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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

ETHICS, Sturino bills vendors for par-tay [FP]

I like Mike Sturino, Forest Park's administrator, but he's wrong to be demanding--or asking--kickbacks from village vendors.

From the Forest Park Review (Seth Stern):
"It may not be illegal but in my opinion it’s not ethical to ask our vendors to donate money for an employee appreciation outing," [Commissioner Terry Steinbach] said....

Sturino disagreed, stating that the reason laws exist is to avoid arguments over gray areas between different peoples’ individual interpretations of propriety. "Ethics are defined by law, not one person’s opinion" he said, referring to the village’s ethics ordinance, which was adopted from the Illinois Attorney General’s office....

He said that his calls to vendors soliciting donations were "very laid back" and that no pressure was placed upon the vendors to comply.

The weakness in Sturino's position is that there is no clear-and-bright line.

Sturino seems to being saying a quid pro quo is OK as long as either
1. it's not explicit, or
2. it's kept secret

Sturino's interpretation of the rules relies on outsiders trusting the parties engaged in the kickback that there was no explicit quid pro quo. As long as the parties involved in the quid pro quo don't rat themselves out, it's OK.

Sturino is also insulting my intelligence to say the ethics rules coming from Springfield represent some gold standard of ethical wisdom. The ethics rules coming from Springfield are compromises by a number of people, many of whom would like the weakest ethics rules possible.

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