It is interesting that the local newspapers are finally asking the Ethics question of our freeholders. In today’s Sunbeam, posted on the Cumberland County News website is an interesting article touching on the Ethics Panel that Bill Whelan and Reverend Dunkins are still dancing around. Dunkins goes so far as to say, “We’re not going to answer these questions quickly.”
Of course, Wheland and Dunkins were quick enough in 2009 when they amended the Code of Ethics for the sole purpose of allowing Lou Magazzu to to campaign for money for his failed NACo run. On February 26 Freeholder meeting, the second to last piece of business was to change the ethics rules. There was no debate whatsoever, and interestingly enough, those minutes were never approved by the Freeholder board, or so it says on the county website.
It has always been a favored tactic of the Magazzu administration to put questionable resolutions at the end of a very long meeting, in the hopes that the resolutions will not be scrutinized.
The purpose of the code of ethics is “to establish ethical standards of conduct for all officials, elected, appointed, as well as employees of Cumberland County…”
The changes were additions to the policy, beginning with paragraph (h)
(h) Non-public, non-partisan office – Any position with a local, state, or federal non-profit organization including, but not limited to professional associations, that a county offficial or employee accepts campaign contributions for while a County official or employee.
Does that suspiciously sound like Lou double-dipping while campaigning for his job with NACo while pretending to serve the citizens of Cumberland County? This was an addition to the existing ethics code definitions.
Next, in section four, there is another addition (addition in underline):
excepting that nothing in this section shall preclude any Freeholder from accepting a lawful contribution to his/her campaign for elected public office or his/her campaign for elected non-public, non- partisan office including, but not limited to professional associations…
This major change to the county code of ethics went on with NO DEBATE, and did not take MONTHS to do. Now, Whelan and Dunkins claim that putting together an ethics panel to enforce the existing code is too onerous a job for them to do in an expeditious manner.
You see a classic case of misdirection, with Whelan and Dunkins claiming that they are worried about the scope of the ethics code, and legal repercussions. There was no concern about legal repercussion when they hired a new employee known to have a history of sexual harrassment.
The ethics committee is to be comprised of two freeholders, and three private citizens. Whelan is doing his best to drag his feet in performing the simple task of creating a non-partisan committee. It is NOT the job of the foxes to iron out the scope of the policy of protecting the hen house. NOW is the time to have a fully-formed committee to iron out the details. With the input of the three citizens sitting on the panel, more headway can be made. But as we all know, ethics is NOT a strong point of the sitting Democrats.