Ethics Talk


Local governments always deal with ethics. The base nature of these entities creates consistent opportunity for “grey areas” among their employees and for Elected Officials. Whether it is HISD, Harris County, City of Houston or any of our regional governments, the opportunities abound for corruption.

This has been clearly demonstrated over the last few years when we have witnessed numerous stories and even court cases involving government officials. It seems to be a never-ending saga and the public thinks about “who is next?”

Why? Don’t we elect good people to office and expect them to behave in an ethical manner? We do, actually. Most Elected Officials never intend to cross the line but the lines become very blurred over time. These folks control billions of dollars in contracts. While many rules and regulations have been set to lessen the impact of influence in the contracting process, challenges still exist.

County Judge Ed Emmett made ethics a key point of his State of the County address. The county has been barraged with ethics issues recently and he indicated that he wants to strengthen enforcement. Alas, it appears that he will have to seek changes in State Law to make that happen. Still, he is drawing attention to the subject and that is an important first step. In fact, he has consistently spoken on this topic since he was first elected.

Meanwhile, Mayor Parker is also facing challenges. Her Director of the Office of Inspector General resigned and claimed that the office had little to no teeth to actually take necessary actions. She is searching for a replacement.

HISD has also been enduring investigations of various school board members.

The State of Texas has the Texas Ethics Commission and complaints may always be filed there. And, of course, if a situation is serious enough, law enforcement officials will step in and arrests will be made.

Kudos to Judge Emmett for his call to clean-up county government and to other leaders who are striving to govern ethically. 

This entry was originally posted at Nancy Sims' blog, Ponderings.