Dial "F" For Fraud: Auditor Craig Kinton to Tell Council City's Code of Ethics Comes Up Short

Categories: City Hall
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Shortly before the holidays, Leslie sat in on an Ethics Advisory Commission get-together during which its members stewed in an existential funk, asking themselves such questions as: ""Are we accomplishing what we were created to accomplish?" And: "What does the culture of ethics look like?" And: "How do we define it?" Mayor Mike has put council member Jerry Allen in charge of City Hall's ethics makeover, which includes the giving the commission more power, if only because right now it couldn't have much less. In the words of commissioner Roger Wedell, "I'm unclear about the role of this commission."

Which isn't his fault: Back in November 2009, when the council was voting on Tom Leppert's ethics reforms that more or less consisted of making lobbyists register at City Hall, Angela Hunt lambasted the then-mayor's idea of reform as nothing more than "toothless proposals." Which is how we ended up with another round of another round of another round of reform.

But, first, City Auditor Craig Kinton is weighing in. Tomorrow, when council returns from its Presidents Day off, he'll huddle with the Budget, Audit & Finance Committee to review the PowerPoint you find below with, in which Kinton compares and contrasts Dallas's 12-year-old code of ethics with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations, the latter of which contains seven steps to recovery for every org, especially those in need of a little ethical fine-tuning. Says Kinton's look-see, the city still has a ways to go.

Take, for instance, this bit from the FSGO: "Specific individual(s) within the organization shall be delegated day-to-day operational responsibility for the compliance and ethics program." That's No. 2 on the list, right behind actually writing a list of criminal stuff you shouldn't do, which is the only thing the city has done, far as Kinton can tell. Anyway. It's high up. Important stuff. And the city completely ignores it: There's "no City-designated ethics officer," Kinton notes, and the Ethics Advisory Commission has "limited jurisdiction," which is just being polite. It gets worse. A few ... highlights: "Possible inconsistent applicant reference process." "Lack of comprehensive ethics training program." "Whistle-blower protections not explicitly stated." And, a favorite: "Administrative Directive 2-14 Fraud, Waste and Abuse Procedures shows incorrect Fraud Hotline number." Audit of City's Ethics Program
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6 comments
Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Dallas City Council wants the code to come up short, and that, Auditor will be gone soon.How can you continue to do wrong if you had a real Code of Ethics.How can you with a Federal mandated 14-1 elected Counci .Vote ,pass a resulation changing the method used to Select DFW Airport Board members after 44 years that was plain and simple and approved in the 1968 Contract and Agreement.Resolution takes the appointing power from 14-1 City Council and gives it to Mayor lot stock and barrel,the whole thing. The Dallas City Attorney prepared this Resolution, and found nothing wrong with it,he did not see any thing wrong with the Committee appointed by Mayor, selecting who they would interview from nominees submitted by Council, interview only that group and forward them to Council for ratification it's not a vote because there is no choice,just the ones sent by this hand picked Committee.Leppert started this Transportation committee interview when he took office,at least he had 10 members,Mayor Mike has 6 members three from North Dallas,Queen of Transportation Linda Koop ,Chair.two Hispanics and Black will they ever appoint someone qualified,Hell No.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Ethics-seem to remember Dwain sneeking a weakening of the ethics code last year.  And to think that Mayor Mike made this a top priority at that time too.    Please Oh Please FBI investigate the city council and staff.  Save us from the city, county and DISD.

Mo
Mo

Seriously? We all know ethics and City Hall do not go together. Nice window dressing though! 

james
james

"Administrative Directive 2-14 Fraud, Waste and Abuse Procedures shows incorrect Fraud Hotline number."  nobody's home

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

So Jerry is the new 'sheriff' of ethics? Really?

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

One thing I'd like to see the City tackle is its practice of allowing city officials to take "gifts" from private individuals and/or corporations who are able to mask their identities by using not-for-profit foundations as intermediaries.

Take for example, the case of former Mayor Dwayne Caraway.  Awhile back, out of nowhere he started hammering AirTran to stop service at DFW Airport immediately after its acquisition by Southwest Airlines.  To say that this was a bizarre posture would be an understatement:  adoption of his suggestion would have harmed DFW Airport (via reduced landing fees, gate fees, concession rents, etc.), the City of Dallas (via reduced tax collection pass-throughs from DFW Airport), passengers (who would have faced enormous expense and inconvenience in rebooking flights and having fewer choices), and Southwest Airlines (via reduced profits).  In other words, ALL of Caraway's constituencies stood to lose.  The only winner was American Airlines, who stood to increase its control on certain key routes, which would allow it to charge higher fares.

Around the very same time, the DFW World Affairs Council offered Caraway an all expense paid luxury trip, anywhere in the world-- he chose to go to Nigeria for a presidential inauguration.  American Airlines is one of the largest financial backers of the DFW World Affairs Council.

Was there a quid pro quo here?  Did the money for Caraway's trip come from American Airlines as payment for his advocacy on its behalf?  Impossible to tell under the city's current ethics rules.

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