Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter County Commissioners vote to join shared ethics commission

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Board of Commissioners took a first step in becoming part of the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission.

All three Commissioners voted in favor of joining the Commission as was suggested by Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, during the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

“I think the public really needs to know that this is important to us,” she said.

The Commission is open to units of government from Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. According to the Commission’s website, the Porter County Commissioners would be the first governing body from Porter County to join. Current members include Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Gary, Highland, Hobart, LaPorte County, Lowell, Munster, Schererville and Whiting.

The website, sharedethics.com, says the groups share in a code of ethics that revolve around a few sets of foundational values - Honesty and Integrity; Respect and Civility; Accountability and Responsibility; Fairness and Justice.

Blaney said she would like for officials and employees to have easy access to information whenever they have a question about ethics.

“I want to make it clear to the public and our employees that ethical government is a priority in Porter County,” she said.

The Commissioners will pay $5,000 the first year of membership and $3,000 for each year after, which will be used for training, supplies and public awareness of government ethics. The funding will be paid out of the Commissioners’ budget for special projects. Fees are based on the population of which a governing entity serves.

Blaney said she has been in contact with Commission president Cal Bellamy as to what is required in being a member. The Commission meets once every two months.

A call to join the Commission was made three months ago by County Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, after he told his peers on the Council he felt targeted by the Commissioners in the Council redistricting process which resulted in him being removed from his Portage district.

Blaney did not mention if that or any other incident motivated her to propose join the Commission but did say it had to do with “everything that’s been going on lately.”

She said now, more than ever, the public needs to know that government can be trusted.

 

 

Posted 3/19/2014