By Bill Black

A few years ago the State of California passed laws and set regulations requiring all publicly elected or appointed officials to take an ethics course and pass a state-adopted ethic’s test.

The multi-area curriculum is designed to emphasize the importance of ethical behavior while holding a public office. In addition, the ethic’s curriculum reminds them of their fiduciary responsibility to the public that elected them. This required ethics course reinforces the need to act in an ethical manner, foster public trust, and guard the public interest.

The State’s purpose in passing ethical standards was meant to encourage a higher level of expectations of our elected officials. It clearly defines accepted as well as unacceptable behavior, the legal as well as the perceived consequences of betraying the public trust, and penalties for actions, which undermined the public interest. In addition to the ethics requirement, governing bodies have to adhere to the “Open Meeting Laws” which require governmental business to be conducted in public.

Given these laws and regulations, it is clearly the responsibility of all public officials to act in an ethical manner. This also includes the “requirement” for policing their own members, as well as insuring the organization they represent does business in an ethical manner. The public should not be expected to accept anything less than the highest ethical behavior from those they have elected.

Sadly, some of those elected to positions of trust openly abuse and tarnish the office to which they have been entrusted. It seems to be a regular occurrence that we learn of misbehaving politicians, such as the case in Bell, California, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, San Diego’s mayor, Bob Filner, and of course the recent drug-using Florida Congressman, Trey Radel.  All refused to take the ethical path to step down because of their unethical behavior. Thankfully for the people of Bell, who recalled their council, and the San Diego and Toronto Councils, which stepped to the plate and did what they were elected to do – “act in an ethical manner,” I would hope that the citizens of Lemoore do likewise and demand that their elected council members do the right thing.

Bill Black