Sunday, May 25, 2008

FOUR councilors reject ethics proposal-- what are they afraid of?

Mike Plaisance did a nice piece of reporting yesterday in the wake of City Council's failure to pass an Ethics proposal, 's today in the wake of the faulure of an proposed ethics law which would have required financial and conflict of interest disclosures.

It turns out that all nine of Springfield MA's city councilors have spouses or family members who work for a government agency, or they themselves do.

Now, this isn't a bad thing per se. On the face of it, it simply means a family committed to public service. Making this information public-- and of course, it's no secret to those in the know anyway-- just puts potential conflict of interest issues aboveboard for all to see. Financial disclosure shouldn't be very controversial, either.

Yet the Gang of Four-- Bill Foley, Tim Rooke, Jimmy Ferrera and Bud Williams voted against the ethics proposal, with reasons ranging from too much paperwork to protestations of honesty. The proposal was sponsored by Bruce Stebbins and Pat Markey and supported by Rosemarie Mazza Moriarty and Jose Tosado. Kateri Walsh was absent.

All this plays out as we approach our city council's first election with a mixed system of ward councilors and at-large. We have all at-large now, nine seats, but next November we will only be electing five at-large. So at least four of Springfield's current councilors will not be returning to the Council next year (unless some choose to run from their ward and I doubt any of them will, they'd consider it a "demotion.")

My guess is that two of the "Gang of Four" will not run for re-election. I've got my thoughts, which two do you think?

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