‘Standards of Conduct’ proposed for County Board appointees
By Frank Abderholden firstname.lastname@example.org September 2, 2013 6:48PM
Updated: October 4, 2013 6:12AM
People who are appointed to any one of the more than 70 units of government by the chairman of the Lake County Board will now have to sign a “Standards of Conduct” saying they agree to follow ethical standards.
Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor announced the plan last week for the 300 appointees that sit on various boards and commissions and it will be voted on Sept. 10 by the full County Board.
The standards fall into five key areas: accountability, fiscal responsibility, transparency, efficiency and ethics.
“These standards of conduct will help create a culture of accountability for our appointees and establish clear expectations,” said Lawlor.
“Adherence to common sense standards will improve fiscal responsibility, transparency and communication with me, the county board and the people we serve,” he said.
“We have seen this in the media lately,” said Lawlor referring to the Metra Board, but locally at the Lake County Housing Authority. David Northern left for a new job and the new executive director, Jeneen Smith-Underwood, was there for four months before getting a $122,000 settlement. She quit for unexplained reasons.
The new standards do not have a penalty such as the threat of removal because it was not in the legislation, but at least the standards establish a “chain of accountability,” he said. Two years ago, the law governing these positions was amended so now the county board can ask for audits from the governing bodies they appoint people to. “We didn’t have that until two years ago,” he said.
Lawlor as chairman makes appointments to everything from sanitary, drainage and fire districts, to the transportation service boards, affordable housing commission, board of health, and board of review.
Some examples of requirements include requiring boards to follow fiscally conservative budgeting by adhering to best practices set through the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and other professional groups, operating in a transparent manner by posting information to its web site and being responsive to citizens, as well as striving to decrease costs and increase efficiency. Signing the certificate of acknowledgement is required in order to serve on a board or commission.
“I believe the public not only expects this, but demands it. This plan aims to protect the public’s interests and ensure that we continue to be good stewards of their trust, and their money,” said Lawlor.
The plan also requires appointees to follow the county board’s ethics policy, which is required by a new state law.
Lawlor commends the members of these boards and commissions for dedicating their time to their duties. “The important work of our boards and commissions would not get done without these conscientious citizens. We sincerely thank our appointees for their service,” he said.