Rushern Baker and Ethics Reform — Serious or Scam?
Thanks to pg-politics for sharing.
Where’s the beef IG?
Candidate Rushern Baker’s “30-day plan” as published in the Post Voters Guide and summarized in the Gazette Voters Guide (see below) contained at least an implied promise to act within 30 days on the establishment of an Inspector General. Mr. Baker also promised several additional reforms:
- Prohibit County Credit Cards for Elected Officials (by executive order)
- Prohibit Gifts, Meals and Beverages for County Officials (by executive order)
- Transparent Government Online (by executive order)
- County Council Slates (by county ordinance)
- County Council Lobbyists (by county ordinance)
- Contractors reports of campaign contributions (by county ordinance)
Not counting the day of his inauguration he had until 6 Jan 2011 to act on those promises.
- That means he had over seven months to come up with specific plans, executive orders, and proposed ordinances for submission to the county council.
- He had almost four months from the time he won the primary election to come up with specific plans, executive orders, and proposed ordinances for submission to the county council.
- He had about two months from the time he won the general election to come up with specific plans, executive orders, and proposed ordinances for submission to the county council.
- He had almost 50 days from from the time his predecessor and an incoming council member were arrested to come up with specific plans, executive orders, and proposed ordinances for submission to the county council.
So what did Mr.Baker actually do? None of what he promised!
Instead of putting forward specific plans and promulgating executive orders or sending the council proposed ordinances, Mr. Baker took the road followed by too many politicians who want to avoid dealing with tough issues or want cover for breaking their promises–he established a task force to try to hide his failure to act.
Baker’s task force took almost 6 months to draft a report, and came up with the kind of preliminary recommendations that should have been ready long before Baker’s inauguration. The report did not propose any specifics that could actually be promulgated by the county executive or submitted to the council for enactment.
Writing recently in the Examiner, six weeks after the task force report was submitted, Ben Giles reported that the task force has had no feedback since submitting its report and Baker’s staff says it might be months, possibly not until fiscal 2013, before an Inspector General is appointed, if ever.
Repeating the question: Rushern Baker and Ethics Reform — Serious or Scam?
The lack of any meaningful action by Mr. Baker seems to answer more loudly than the empty words that have come out of his propaganda machine. It is unfortunate that, except for Mr. Giles, the media seems to have been bamboozled by Mr. Baker’s rhetoric and hasn’t bothered to look beyond it or made any attempt to follow up on or hold him accountable for his promises.
- May 19, 2011, Is Rushern Baker really serious about cleaning up the county’s image?
- January 14, 2011, Status of Rushern Baker’s 30 Day Plan for Ethics Reform
Excerpt from candidate Rushern Baker’s “30-day plan” as published in the Post Voters Guide on the establishment of an Inspector General. See my January 14, 2011, posting for the full plan and comments on progress at that time. There has been no substantive progress on the county controlled aspects of the plan since then.
RAISING OUR STANDARDS
The First Thirty Days as County Executive Thru:
Introduction of Legislation to the County Council
Introduction of Legislation to the House of Delegates
The County will create an office of Inspector General to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement and conflicts-of-interest in the County government. The Inspector General must be professionally qualified with a background in auditing and public financial management. The Inspector General must be selected based on ability and integrity, without regard to political affiliation. The Inspector General will be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council for a fixed term of office that is staggered and non-concurrent with the Executive and Council. The office of inspector general will have its own staff and will enjoy subpoena power. The Inspector General will conduct investigations, review financial managements, examine potential conflicts-of-interest, conduct performance audits and similar reviews, make recommendations, public findings, and make referrals to law enforcement agencies. The Inspector General will also conduct annual ethics audits of locally elected officials and make results public.
[Can be accomplished by county ordinance.]
And Mr. Baker told the Gazette Voters Guide
Much more needs to be done to open government. Major ethics reform is long overdue in Prince George’s County, I will end pay for play practices in government business dealings. I believe in full disclosure and my campaign posts a list of its donors every sixty days. I have also released a comprehensive list of initiatives I will take in my first thirty days. As County Executive I will strive to make government and campaigns more transparent. I also pledge to establish a first ever County Inspector General to police ethics conduct and perform annual ethics audits.