New Dallas Code of Ethics Passed Unanimously – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
After years of past scandals, Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved a new code of ethics.
It was the result of September recommendations from a task force appointed by current Dallas mayor Eric Johnson.
âEthical issues and federal investigations have cast a cloud over this building for far too long,â Johnson said.
Officials said the new code rewrites and simplifies existing Dallas ethics rules and adds an inspector general officer who will investigate complaints and settle frivolous cases. Almost $ 200,000 has been set aside to set up the new office and hire staff.
The current ethics review board reviews complaints but does not have the power to investigate. The current council will be enlarged with members appointed by each member of the municipal council.
Council member Paula Blackmon led City Council’s review of the task force recommendations. A review every two years is foreseen in the new plan.
âIf there are any additions, if there are strikes that we have to do, let’s have this discussion. And let’s create something that brings integrity and transparency back to town hall, âsaid Blackmon.
Recent scandals include former City Councilor Dwaine Caraway convicted of accepting bribes as part of the Dallas County Schools Bus Stop Camera Program and deceased council member Carolyn Davis who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from developer Ruel Hamilton. Davis was killed in a car crash with an impaired driver before being sentenced.
Hamilton was convicted in June of paying bribes and sentenced in November to eight years in prison.
Dallas City Council member Adam McGough has never been charged with a felony, but has raised ethical questions this year over his role as video spokesperson for a no-tender deal with a profit-making agency non-profit for the long-term lease of a city property. Email recordings showed McGough had discussed a paid position with the nonprofit group, but he denied that he planned to continue in that role. The deal was pulled from the city’s scrutiny amid controversy. Critics said it should have been put out to tender.
McGough said he was transparent from the start about his support for the project which he said would have been good for the community.
McGough was part of city council’s unanimous vote in favor of the new ethics rules.
âToday’s vote on ethics reform represents a sea change in the way this city does business. It is a historic vote. It is a monumental vote and it is the right thing to do to restore public confidence, âsaid Mayor Eric Johnson. “We are sending a message and this message to the people of Dallas is that their best interests are our only interest.”
Council member Cara Mendelsohn has called four committee meetings since September to help craft the final version of the law approved on Wednesday.
“It’s the most important vote I’ve taken since I got elected and it’s also the easiest,” Mendelsohn said.
The current Dallas Ethics Review Board will remain in place until the Dallas Inspector General is hired and the Expanded Ethics Review Board is appointed.