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The SLOP staff has gotten together and decided to go ahead and admit that we have lost the long war against Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Office of Ethics and Integrity.

It wasn’t a war against ethics and integrity. That’s like the war on terror – how could you ever win a war against a concept. No, it was a war against spending money wastefully on something that city employees’ should have learned as kids: don’t lie, cheat, steal or drool on your desk at work during a long afternoon nap on the taxpayers’ dime.

But, although City Councilman Jim Madaffer and a couple of others wondered aloud what the point of the $1.4 million new bureaucracy was, nobody, as usual, really wanted to rock the boat. The City Council, after hours of useless jabber, passed the mayor’s budget without much resistance – save Donna Frye as always.

So we lost. We thought for a minute there we had a chance to kill the proposal and break up that disgusting Ethics Orgy that’s wasting all of our time and money. With the Ethics Commission, the city attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, the Office of Ethics and Integrity and the separate diversity and personnel training groups in City Hall, we thought somebody might recognize the folly of it all.

We were wrong. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep following it. We’re still waiting for the results of our public records request that asked the city for any of the records of the complaints made to the OEI’s hotline. We don’t care who is making the complaints, we just want to know what they’re complaining about.

We sent the request to the mayor and shortly thereafter got a response from the City Attorney’s Office rejecting our request, asserting that the information about the hotline, all of it, was confidential.

Then, we got another response from the City Attorney’s Office saying they were going to reevaluate that stance.

We’ll keep you informed.

In the meantime, the mayor’s ethics empress will continue to spend thousands on things invitations and worthless junkets meant to teach people things they already should know. In April, the OEI sent out invitations that were nicer than my wedding’s and were emblazoned with the word “HONOR” asking city government managers to attend a … hmmm… it doesn’t really say. It was some kind of meeting of the Citywide Advisory Committee for the Office of Ethics and Integrity on April 20.

Who sends a costly invitation to a meeting at work? Oh wait, it wasn’t just an invitation. It was also a laminated bookmark with the OEI’s motto (and some seemingly random capitalization):

The Office of Ethics and Integrity’s mission is to strengthen the City’s Ethical Climate so that HONOR is cherished, personal integrity and ethical courage are the cultural norms and all employees are supported and encouraged to use their judgment and initiative in the conduct of ethical practices in the workplace.

A shiny voiceofsandiego.org traveling coffee mug goes to the reader who can best translate what that means in English and why it costs more than a million bucks to do.

Click on my name below and send your entry. The best ones will be posted.

SCOTT LEWIS

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