SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ethics codes are there for a good reason
By Andy Rauwolf



June 25, 2007
Monday PM

The editorial in Friday's paper entitled "Thorny Issue" was misleading and lacking facts, but certainly wasn't short on the writer's own bias on the issue of the ethics charges brought against two members of the planning commission. Before accusing good citizens in this community of filing a complaint because they "didn't like a planning commission's recommendation regarding a rezone", perhaps it would have been wiser to talk to those who are involved so you could get the facts before editorializing on a subject. The citizens involved filed ethics charges for a very good reason, namely that the ethics codes were violated. The complaint was withheld until after the borough assembly unanimously overturned the planning commission's recommendation based on the merits of the case, namely that it did not adhere to the borough's comprehensive plan. To insinuate otherwise is a disservice to the assembly members.

Ethics codes are there for a good reason, so that we can have an open and honest government, and so that issues like these can be addressed fairly for all parties involved. When two of the planning commissioners have worked for the applicant on the property in question for substantial financial gain, and both of these individuals promoted this project to their fellow commissioners, I would say yes, ethics codes have been violated, and no, the citizens involved were not treated fairly. If no complaints were filed, wouldn't it leave the door open for other citizens to get the same kind of treatment on other issues? The code specifically states that any official having a financial interest in a matter before the commission or assembly SHALL NEITHER VOTE NOR PARTICIPATE IN ANY DISCUSSION related to the matter in question.

Contrary to the editorial's claim, and that of Mr. Lybrand, this does not make it difficult to find qualified individuals to serve in these capacities. There are seven members on a commission, and five of them can easily decide an issue without the input from fellow commissioners who have a conflict. There is absolutely nothing that prevents someone with a conflict from serving on these commissions. All he has to do is excuse himself from participating in a particular issue that he has a financial interest in. End of story!!

For an editorial to claim that the ethics code was used to challenge an unpopular decision is a dangerous supposition and may discourage others from speaking up when government officials step over the line. You are accusing citizens of misusing codes to get their own way. If you really want corruption to get a toehold in our local government, just keep on intimidating citizens who try to speak out. If what these two commissioners did is ok, then it would follow that anyone seeking a favorable decision from a government body need only to put a couple of the commissioners or assemblymen on his payroll prior to making the request, and pay them to represent his case. This editorial attitude is very disturbing, given the responsibility that goes with your job.


Andy Rauwolf
Ketchikan, AK

Received June 25, 2007 - Published June 25, 2007

About: Longtime Ketchikan resident.

Related Editorial:

Thorny issue - Ketchikan Daily News (subscription required)

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Ketchikan, Alaska