Shall the Charter be amended to eliminate the provision providing for forfeiture of office if a public official or employee willfully violates the Citizens’ Bill of Rights and allow, in addition to suit in circuit court, the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust to enforce the Citizens’ Bill of Rights with penalties authorized by the Code?
Here is the Ethics Commission answer to my concerns:
We did not draft the proposal and we would have preferred to keep the removal as an option. However, given a choice between removal per a county court law suit and enforcement by the Ethics Commission, it is not a close call. No one has ever been removed from office pursuant to the existing charter provision, so we really are not giving up that much. And this change does not preclude removal by the governor upon an official’s being charged with a criminal offense, something which has happened repeatedly over the years. The Citizen’s Bill of Rights is really much more suitable for enforcement by the Ethics Commission so the change will effect a more realistic and enforceable penalty option.
Nonetheless, I am concerned that some people will read the wording of the change and think that it is watering down the penalties and vote against it. Nothing we can do about that but state our position that it is an improvement.
I will still vote no because I don't like the underlined part, but you guys now have plenty of info to make up your own mind. I find the ethics commission opinions are usually weak. What can I say, my sense of ethics is different.