Although an ethics proposal from a Democratic member of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners was scuttled last year by county Republicans, the board’s GOP members are now looking to establish an ad hoc committee to study and review the county’s existing ethics policy and see if the 20-year-old rules need some updating.
Last week, a resolution cleared the county board’s Human Resources Committee, which is chaired by Commissioner John Scott (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield), who said that it will be the responsibility of Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Gingell (R-Lake Orion) to appoint the three-member committee which will be comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat.
The resolution also would allow Gingell to appoint “other non-commissioner members” to the ad hoc committee.
A vote by the full Board of Commissioners on the matter is expected tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 2.
“I think there’s some updates that could certainly occur,” said Commissioner Jim Runestad (R-Waterford, White Lake). “Our ethics policy is 20-years-old. There are some things to be looked at and improved upon.”
Commissioner Marcia Gershenson (D-West Bloomfield) agreed, saying that the policy “absolutely” needs revision.
“This is an initiative that the Democrats introduced at the end of 2010,” she said. “Our policy is old and we wanted to bring it up at least to compliance with the former Attorney General’s rulings that were in place for the state.”
The issue was raised during the Board of Commissioners’ last session of 2010, when Commissioner Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) put forward a trio of proposed ethics policies that died in committee.
“I welcome this development,” Greimel said. “I am glad that the Republicans on the commission are finally acknowledging the need to review our 20-year-old ethics policy.”
“I plan to work with them to come up with an improved and updated and hopefully stronger and more enforceable ethics policy.”
The first resolution Greimel introduced would have enacted the Oakland County Ethics Ordinance, which is based almost entirely on former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s Model Ethics Ordinance for Local Governments.
The second resolution would have required that all check registers for “all individual expenditures by all county elected officials and departments be posted online in such a way as to be easily accessible by members of the public,” starting in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.
The third resolution would have essentially called on the Department of Information Technology to implement a “Track Your Taxes” website, similar to one that Cox’s department maintained.