Photo by Nick Youngson
The Morning Call, October 18, 2018
Municipal Ethics Codes Do Make a Difference
I was extremely dismayed by the tepid responses from Allentown Mayor Pawlowski and Republican mayoral candidate Nat Hyman to the timely question from The Morning Call Town Square piece, “Does Allentown need a stronger ethics code for elected officials and city workers?” The clear answer is “yes!” The argument that Allentown needs to do better enforcing its current code is parallel to the argument that we don’t need better gun control laws, we just need to enforce the ones we already have.
Better enforcement is a red-herring argument and shows a lack of understanding the differences between unethical behavior and illegal behavior. Mayor Pawlowski states “Codes and documents do not drive personal conduct.” In fact, they do. An independent ethics oversight board does drive conduct. And it is clearly needed.
Councilwoman Olga Negron introduced a comprehensive ethics ordinance to Bethlehem City Council in January of this year (Councilman Michael Colon was a co-sponsor), and it was promptly shelved by the remainder of council. Comprehensive ethics reform reestablishes the lost trust of the public to the relationship between a municipality and its citizens.
Reading enacted such reform, as have Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It’s time for comprehensive ethics reform for Allentown and Bethlehem. The voters demand it.
Paige Van Wirt
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