...Stoffa-Gift - Should a Board of Ethics in Nor-Co be weighed?
Yes, we think so. There is no mechanism or device in place at this point in time to assist the taxpayers deal with government unethical questions.
When COAF addressed County Council and asked them to look into the Stoffa-Gift matter, they (CC) suggested that they would deal with the matter only if there was evidence of wrong doing on the part of County Executive John Stoffa, and or his administration.
In December of 2012, the independent office of the County Controller produced two hours of misused tax-resources which has been substantiated. In our humble opinion, this should have been the evidence that Council required to (at minimum) ask the proper authorities to launch a formal investigation into the matter. After all, the taxpayers are asking for it, and they deserve a legitimate response. Don't they? Especially when the taxpayers believe that the actual number of hours misused are more like 30-60 hours.
The intent of any investigation should be to substantiate or disprove wrongdoing within our local government.
Interestingly, after receiving the information from Controller Barron himself, County Council sat silent!
When COAF sought to understand the direction they were planning, they again sat silent!
When COAF asked County Council to censure Mr. Stoffa as a means of demonstrating to the taxpayers that they (CC) did not condone such behavior (in light of the evidence), they sat silent!
Their silence has made it quite apparent that County Council would prefer not to deal with these types of matters.
The local media (taking its cue from County Councils' silence) decides not to report on the very serious matter of misused tax resources in Northampton County. They too chose to sit silent.
We view all of these realities as clear indicators that County Council is not capable (for various reasons), or not willing (for obvious reasons) to handle such matters.
Perhaps local government shouldn't be expected to police itself!
Perhaps an independent body should be established specifically to handle and investigate allegations of improper and unethical government behavior, removing the need to bring such matters before County Council.
Yes, in light of recent events and the evidence which has gone unnoticed, it does appear the time has come to consider establishing an ethics board that would be responsible for reviewing ethical matters relating to our local government. The question is however, who in government would establish such a review board?