Dec 1, 2021 - News

Dallas City Council will consider solutions to ethics problems

Illustration of the scales of justice with a gavel on one side and stacks of cash on the other.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Dallas City Council will be briefed today on proposed changes to the city’s code of ethics and the creation of the Office of the Inspector General.

Why it matters: Creating an Office of the Inspector General will streamline investigations into allegations of misconduct by elected officials and city employees.

  • The goal is to increase transparency within the municipal government.

Context: Complaints are currently filed to the city secretary’s office, and the onus is on the person making the complaint to present the information before the Ethics Advisory Commission.

  • This means that the complainant essentially acts as a prosecutor.

What’s happening: Under the new system, if it's approved by the council, the inspector general will investigate complaints. If evidence of a violation is found, the inspector general will either prosecute the case before the EAC or recommend a settlement.

  • One of the key differences between the current system and the proposed model is the inspector general will have direct access to city records as opposed to a person having to file public records requests to back up their complaints.
  • The inspector general would be hired by the city attorney.

Flashback: Real estate developer Ruel Hamilton was sentenced in November to eight years in federal prison for bribing two former Dallas City Council members.

What they’re saying: Council member Paula Blackmon said she hopes the ethics code changes and hiring an inspector general will prevent more of the corruption cases the city has become known for.

  • "I just don’t want to see more ‘FBI investigates X at City Hall.’ I just don’t want to see that headline anymore," Blackmon told Axios. "We’re trying to restore integrity to our local government."

The intrigue: A key change is the creation of a “personal benefit” recusal instead of the current conflict of interest policy.

How to watch: You can watch the briefing online starting at 9am.


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