Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ethics issues

So, Terry Aldridge, Fairbanks North Star Borough assemblyman and one of the so-called "Gang of Six" before he was even sworn in, has been found by his fellow assembly members to have violated borough ethics with regard to the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. Not much of a surprise there, given the circumstances of the case. Aldridge is claiming he did nothing wrong, which seems to me revealing of a serious lack of comprehension of the difference between right and wrong.

Here's what the ethics board found, paraphrased from the News-Miner:

* His consulting contract wasn't disclosed to the borough or FEDC's board.

* Aldridge was chairman of the assembly's Finance Committee while it debated whether to triple a grant to FEDC. Aldridge didn't disclose his involvement and argued with the ruling that he shouldn't vote on it because he was FEDC secretary/treasurer.

* He took at least four trips on FEDC's behalf: Two to Lower 48 communities doing similar projects and two fishing trips in Alaska.

* Aldridge's explanation about his interest in the UAF business project doesn't wash. Aldridge told them his contract came after June 7; his first payment was in April and he'd traveled previously on FEDC's behalf.

But what really gets me is this charge:

"Borough attorney Rene Broker...said he did not immediately disclose his financial interest, said he wanted to be the director of the project once it began and lied when she asked about his involvement."

The question here is, why would a reasonably intelligent man in a public position such as this not recognize the behavior above as unethical? How could someone get into such a position without understanding that, for example, lying to the borough attorney is a really, really bad thing? Apparently, he knew his position was precarious, otherwise he wouldn't have lied in the first place. Or perhaps he misspoke? It happens...but still, c'mon, Terry! This should have been a no-brainer!

But then, we have all kinds of delightful examples of shameless, brazenly unethical behavior in high places by people who haven't got a clue about ethics: Frank Murkowski, Ben Stevens, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Dick Cheney, George Bush....

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