Tag Archives: ethics

Ethics Meltdown in Legislature

The Legislature is at an impasse trying to decide whether to establish and adequately fund a statewide ethics commission that has real enforcement capability. There’s been considerable favorable testimony by Vermonters, ethicists and our secretary of state, Jim Condos, who has been a relentless champion of government transparency, inclusion and establishing such a commission. Each time VTDigger runs a story on ethics legislative testimony or ethical lapses by state officials, comments from Vermonters run almost universally in favor of establishing such a commission. Legislative arguments against it are unconvincing: In this year of budget constraints, we can’t afford another government bureaucracy ($330,000 of $3.5 billion); (less than 1/100th of a percent) Financial disclosure of possible conflicts will discourage Vermonters from …
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Vermonters Want a Real Ethics Commission

The Vermont legislature is at an impasse trying to decide whether to establish and fund a statewide Ethics Commission. There has been considerable favorable testimony by Vermonters, ethicists, and our Secretary of State, Jim Condos, who has been a relentless champion of government transparency, inclusion and establishing such a commission. Each time VTDigger runs a story on ethics legislative testimony, the comments from Vermonters run almost universally in favor of establishing such a commission. Legislative arguments against it are disingenuous: In this year of budget constraints, we can’t afford another government bureaucracy ($300,000 of $3.5 billion); Financial disclosure of possible conflicts will discourage Vermonters from government service; We’re all good people and we all know each other; What if an …
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Ethics and Strategy

Whomever we elect to lead us for the next two years, we’ll need to confront two gaping holes in our governance: strategic planning and ethics. Our last few decades ought to have alerted us to the need for both. Lacking these essential guardrails, we fall prey to the egos and legacy whims of our political leaders and are left to choose from their menu of needs rather than our own. Strategic planning looks through the lens of known facts at real trends affecting Vermont and its people – economic, demographic, social, and environmental. It quantifies current challenges and opportunities, measures them against known trends and data and offers scientific rather than ideological solutions. Ethics establishes sensible guidelines for what is …
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Banking with Felons?

The news was stunning. Barclays, Citibank, J.P. Morgan – Chase, RBS, Bank of America – Merrill Lynch, and UBS, all pled guilty to illegal currency and LIBOR rate manipulation and agreed to pay some $5.5B in aggregate fines – pocket-change for most and no jail terms for any executives – but, nonetheless, an unequivocal institutional admission of guilt and not the usual claim of “a few rogue bad guys.” So, we open our wallets and look at our credit cards, review our retirement accounts, our investment portfolios, and mortgages. At our next non-profit board meeting, we ask who manages the endowment portfolio. As a director, we have a fiduciary obligation to do so. How many times do those names appear? …
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