Weekly Recap Ethics News and Trends – March 3, 2014

by Best Best & Krieger LLP
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Public servants with the utmost integrity also need to be aware of what is happening ethically around the state. In today’s climate, every public agency’s image is impacted by the missteps or misconduct of others. Below you’ll find a sample of recent news stories about ethical principles, values, and ethics laws. One of the best practices available to all of us is to learn from the mistakes or stories of others.

Here is a sample of the stories from February 21st to February 28th:

California has a quarter of foreign-born U.S. residents

Posted by Dan Walters, The Sacramento Bee, Capitol Alert blog, February 26, 2014

Demographics shifts should also inform our decisions about how to make government more accessible and transparent.

California is home to a quarter of the nation’s foreign-born residents and they also make up more than a quarter of California’s 38 million residents, according to a new Census Bureau report. 

State Sen. Ron Calderon faces 395 years for alleged bribery scheme

By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2014

Will this be California’s version of American Hustle?

The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles on Friday painted a picture of government for sale as he announced that state Sen. Ron Calderon had been indicted on suspicion of taking roughly $100,000 in bribes, meals and trips in exchange for favorable legislation.

California Sen. Rod Wright sentencing delayed two months

Posted by Laurel Rosenhall, The Sacramento Bee, Capitol Alert blog, February 21, 2014

Will this eventually spur changes to the residency requirements?

Sentencing has been delayed by two months in the case against Sen. Rod Wright, who was found guilty of eight felonies by a Los Angeles jury last month for lying about where he lives.

Audit finds questionable Long Beach port commission travel expenses

By Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2014

Please be aware of what your agency can or cannot spend related to spouses.

The Port of Long Beach spent tens of thousands of dollars subsidizing the travel of spouses who accompanied harbor commissioners and staff on trips to Tokyo, Paris and Montreal despite city restrictions that ban such reimbursements, a city audit shows.

Complaint to FPPC: Anaheim Mayor Has Conflict of Interest

By Adam Elmahrek, Voice of OC, February 21, 2014 (Updated March 3, 2014)

Compliant filed.

A complaint to the state’s political watchdog alleges Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait violated a state conflict of interest law by casting City Council votes on matters relating to the Orange County Transportation Authority, which contracts with his environmental engineering firm.

Winners of free-speech suit against L.A. are awarded only $2

By Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2014

Not all harms are seen the same.

Two men who were repeatedly kicked out of Los Angeles City Council meetings for violating public comment rules won part of a free-speech lawsuit against the city last year. But a jury recently awarded them only a few dollars for their trouble.

Ethics agency releases warning letter to Gov. Brown

By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2014

Stricter disclosure rules and gift limits govern the actions of lobbyists.

The state ethics agency on Tuesday made public a warning letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, 10 days after it was provided to the chief executive as a caution for accepting improper contributions from a lobbyist.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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