ACTION ALERT: GIVE HEMPSTEAD RESIDENTS THE ETHICS REFORM THEY DESERVE

 

Much-needed ethics reform is finally up for debate in the Town of Hempstead.

Town Supervisor Anthony Santino has proposed an ethics reform package that is weighed down by one bad proposal, and the fact it is missing a number of positive proposals from town councilmembers.

Supervisor’s Santino’s strong-arm control of meetings is preventing these measures from being considered – and that means residents may not get the best ethics reform possible.

An analysis shows Santino’s plan offers a number of good measures that would cut down on nepotism, conflicts of interest, and abuse of town resources. These could serve as a starting point for a broader conversation about ethics. But an ill-advised recommendation to cap outside income for elected officials risks sabotaging ethics reform.

Hempstead residents deserve better. Improved transparency and open debate will help Hempstead officials create an ethics reform plan that can truly restore confidence in government.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Hempstead’s code of ethics was adopted in 1990. Since then, the town has seen lawsuits, arrests, and convictions related to public corruption. With such an outdated code and clear problems, accomplishing real reform is imperative.
  1. Supervisor Santino wants to limit outside income earned by elected officials. This will serve as a disincentive for citizens to run for public office. Even worse, it does nothing to address the source of outside income – which can actually drive corruption. Tying an ill-informed income cap to good ethics reforms could spoil it entirely.
  1. Some of the Supervisor’s recommendations are similar to provisions that already exist in the town’s current code of ethics. This calls into question whether Hempstead is even following its current ethics laws at all.
  1. Santino’s plan could still lead to much-needed reform. But it will require an open process that allows for adjustments and fresh ideas proposed by other town board members and the public. At a minimum, Hempstead must embrace the industry standard for ethics.

Here are the 7 things that should change in the Supervisor’s plan:

  1. Add provisions requiring the town to post collective bargaining agreements, bids, and all contracts over $10,000 on the town’s website.
  2. Add a provision requiring the town post its checkbook (annual spending information) in a searchable format on the town’s website.
  3. Add language making the ethics board a 5-person body (instead of a 3-person body).
  4. Add language establishing an online process for submitting confidential complaints of ethics violations.
  5. Add a provision requiring bidders for town contracts disclose political donations made to town elected officials.
  6. Add a provision establishing a specific penalty (fine) for violating the town’s code of ethics.
  7. Eliminate a provision capping outside income for elected officials.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Call and email your town board member and tell them you support real ethics reform, not a cap on outside income for elected officials.
  1. Make your voice heard at a public meeting of the Hempstead Town Board:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
10:30 AM
Hempstead Town Hall
1 Washington Street
Hempstead, NY 11550

  1. Sign our petition below to send a message to Supervisor Santino and the town board that you support better ethics reform in the Town of Hempstead.

Tell Supervisor Santino you support real ethics reform in Hempstead.

Tell Supervisor Santino you support real ethics reform in Hempstead.

[your signature]

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