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Letter to Editor: Is There Any Point to Continuing With Ethics Board?

Ocean City resident Jim Tweed suggests the board was a well-intentioned but failed experiment.

To the Editor: 

Communities are like people. Some of them never grow up. One of the arguments against keeping our local Ethics Board was that Ocean City was “too small a town.” That was a curious admission that we were not able to police ourselves. When I heard it, I thought it was sad to have so little faith in your own community. Now it’s time to admit that I was the one who was wrong.

 An Ethics Board can only be as good as the people who serve on it and the support it receives from the community. When the Ethics Board dismissed its own findings, the only one left talking was the defendant’s attorney doing what attorneys are paid to do: advocating for their client. Trials are the great engines of truth. And that is the one thing that has been avoided. Witnesses who really knew what happened will never testify. The accuser has been silenced by a $50,000 dollar payoff by the taxpayers of Ocean City. The accused is left free to spin the story his way without ever being confronted with evidence to the contrary.

Everybody wins, except “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

So what now? The Ethics Board was a well-intentioned experiment that failed.  Is there any point to leaving behind a monument to that failure?

Jim Tweed
Ocean City

Eric Sauder October 03, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Jim I think it failed, not because it didn't have popular support, but because it was undermined from within. If the City didn't have the ability to control it I don't think it ever would have been allowed to exist. It wasn't perceived as a threat to the way this City conducts it's business. And as it turns out, it wasn't.
TheGuessWho October 03, 2012 at 11:18 PM
One of the problems with the Board is an inadequate member selection process. Despite this, sometimes city council has done a good job of screening. An example is the case of a candidate who assiduously argued for continuation of the Board when that was in doubt. His efforts included having published a letter to the editor making the case for the Board while not disclosing that he at the same time had an application in to become a member. Now that very same person has another letter to the editor in advocating eliminating the Board, and again does not mention that he had applied for appointment to it. Ethics can be gray, but they should not be convenient.
Eric Sauder October 05, 2012 at 02:53 AM
From what I read in your comment it would conclude that that person has a deep concern for the state of ethics in this town. I don't see any inconsistency there. I too defended the Ethics Commission, and I would defend it today on principle. But I can't defend this board. I don't see where it has contributed to the public good. I know I'm probably being overly judgmental but that is how I FEEL. I don’t know why they vacated their findings and I'll probably never know. When the $%^# hits the fan in this City it simply disappears. And we're left to wonder, WHY?
jenn October 05, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I had a case before the Ethics Board about an accussation that a city representative deliberately mislead a federal agency. I met with 2 representatives of the Ethics Board. After clearly explaining the case, one of the members of the Ethics Board said, "Well, don't all politicians lie?" "Wouldn't you lie too if you had the chance?" The other member of the Ethics Board, instead of focusing on the accusation, went into a rant about Philadelphia politicians. Neither of them even tried to understand the case or maybe they simply did not have the intelligence to grasp the matter or maybe they were so biased, it didn't matter to them so they just wanted to dismiss it out of hand. The Ethics Committee should be done away with completely in Ocean City. It is clear, from my experience, that these people do not have an idea about what an Ethics Committee should be doing. They shouldn't be sitting in judgement of anyone.
TheGuessWho October 05, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Eric - You clearly entirely miss the point: It can reasonably be concluded that making a public argument for continuing the Board (in a submitted and published letter to the editor) why not disclosing that your currently have an application in to be appointed to the Board, is at the least unseemly and very likely unethical. And, to then argue against keeping the Board, and again omitting one's application for appointment is even more inappropriat. Please focus on commenters' thesis and respond on point, rather than gleening the comments and then shoe-horning some part of it into your perpective on the subject, regardless of its baring on that. You certainly have enough practice at the posting business to have acquired that skill/habit.
Eric Sauder October 05, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I'm sorry guesswho but I fail to see what is unseemly or unethical about supportnig having an Ethics Commission and volunteering to serve on it ... making a commitment of your time to it. Maybe I'm just being dense but I don't see any inconsistency in that. As for not supporting this particular board I can certainly understand that as well. Application to it may well represent an attempt to make it better. I'm not trying to be argumentative or anything. I just dont' see your point. I've noticed in tha past anytime Mr. Tweed posts anything on this site there's an immediate backlash to it (a neagative reaction to the person). And I don't understand it. Can you tell me why? What am I missing?
TheGuessWho October 05, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Eric - You again miss the point: My point is....yikes!!!!!! I want to capitalize every letter. One last attempt at penetrating what appears to be an impervious force field protecting your position::::: Writing a letter arguing in support of keeping the Board when that controversy was intense, submitting it for and having it published in local new outlets, while not mentioning that you currently have an application in to become a member is problematic (unseemly at best and likely unethical - because - and here I spell it out for you: There is an inherent and glaring conflict of interest.) Following up later, when your position changes, with a letter in oppostion to the Board and AGAIN omitting the critical information that you had offered yourself as a candidate is nearly as egregious. It is mind-blowing how you can interpret my statements to be an objection to volunteering for the Board while you support it. As to your last parapraph - I don't know if that happens, but can venture a guess based on his present letter and the previous one on this topic. If they are all like this then the backlash they deserve would be for their lack of integrity, logical consistancy, etc. If I were so inclined I'd research others and, if he is like other writers who do this sort of thing, then I expect I find pedantic lectures unpinned by the mere fluff of opionion and no substantial basis - research, etc. Doing this in an obstensibly reasonable way is not good for society.
Frank Worrell March 02, 2013 at 02:44 PM
The boards closed sessions minutes are now public record and can viewed at city hall. Please read the minutes so a fair conclusion of the boards actions can be judged.
Eric Sauder March 02, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Thanks for the info Frank. Maybe Doug would like to do an OPRA request and a follow up? It was a disappointment to a lot of people that those findings were vacated. And the public who did so much to support it only wanted to know WHY. Jim is right. Without public support it will fail..
Frank Worrell March 02, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Off topic I think you and Jim wrote great letters about gun control. A a topic I am reluctant to post my views as some who disagree with yours Jim,s and my views are completely obtuse.
Eric Sauder March 02, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Thanks Frank. Everybody has an opinion and I don't see the harm in expressing it.
George Petrie March 02, 2013 at 05:49 PM
looks like someone gave frank a new word and he is trying it out. it will not soothe your battered pride, nor does it make it any more appropriate or civic minded to insult people who are concerned about the harm your predudicial posts do to the town, but here's what I'll do: throw a pity party for you.
George Petrie March 02, 2013 at 05:55 PM
eric - yes, everyone has an opinion, but there is harm in some people in some roles putting that opinion on the public record. an example is someone whose official postion is precisely to judge the conduct of fellow citizens and in the context of specific and more general issues, and those judgments can potentially have enormous consequences on the people judged and their loved ones and on the reputation and treasury of the town where the person serves. but you reject that, which is your right AND it is ok - because you rejecting it causes no harm.

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