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OK, this is classic. You’ll remember my incessant whining a while back about the ridiculousness of the mayor’s Office of Ethics and Integrity. It was never clear what the point of the organization is. Never.

The city had an Ethics Commission. The city attorney had a Public Integrity Unit. The city had a human resources effort for training on ethics issues. And all city employees presumably had some kind of mentor who told them it was wrong to, you know, lie, cheat and steal.

But the mayor decided to hire a high-priced lawyer to run a new department in the cash-strapped city called the Office of Ethics and Integrity.

Now, after adding a layer of fat, the mayor is ready to cut something. Witness this memo Ethics Commission Chairwoman Dorothy Leonard sent to Ronne Froman, the city’s chief operating officer:

On June 4, 2007, we were advised by the Commission’s Executive Director, Stacey Fulhorst, that the Mayor’s Office would like to initiate a Business Process Re-Engineering [BPR] of the three ethics departments in the City (the Ethics Commission, the Office of Ethics and Integrity, and the City Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit). We are writing to advise you that the Ethics Commission must respectfully decline to participate in this BPR effort.

As we have discussed in other contexts, because the Ethics Commission is an independent department responsible for regulating the conduct of the Mayor and his staff with respect to the City’s campaign laws and ethics laws, we believe it is extremely important for the Mayor’s Office to recognize the independence of the Ethics Commission and avoid the appearance of managing the Commission in the same manner as those City departments that report to the Mayor.

SCOTT LEWIS

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