Thursday, April 10, 2014

Commissioners express support for having state handle ethics


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- At a special meeting Thursday night, the Unified Government Board of Commissioners discussed the county's ethics commission and county charter.

During the discussion on ethics, multiple commissioners proposed having the State of Kansas handle ethics to help ensure a non-partisan outcome.

"It's not just about reacting to an incident," said Commissioner Ann Murguia. "It's about an environment and it should be across the board. Utilizing the state's policy saves us time and money. Our Ethics Administrator can't do anything but issue a censure."

Commissioner Jim Walters said he believes Wyandotte County is the only county in the state that has its own local ethics administrator. He said the "smallness" of Wyandotte County puts those in the ethics department in a tough position.

"We should have higher standards than we do now," Walters said. "We put out ethics people in a very tough position to make judgement on people they know."

Unified Government Mayor/CEO Mark Holland disagrees with the idea, as does Commissioner Jane Philbrook.

"There's a lot of emotions about this," she said. "It's brought me to a point of sadness. We as a government are having trouble respecting ourselves."

Philbrook said there are things that can be changed about the ethics code, but also said the county should retain its own power.

"(Going to the state) is not something I want to do," she said. "The commission has to make decisions based on facts."

Since the issue was discussed at a special meeting, no vote was held on the matter.

However, it could appear on an agenda later on .