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Archive for Thursday, December 10, 1998

KCK GOVERNMENT GETTING ETHICS AID

December 10, 1998

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An ethics outfit created by Kansas University will help Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., government workers and politicians abide by a uniform code of conduct.

A Kansas University professor and colleagues are preparing to instill and enforce ethical behavior among 2,300 people serving the unified government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County.

George Frederickson, professor of public administration and government, said Wednesday that he would coordinate ethics training and investigation of complaints for the consolidated government approved by voters in April 1997.

The unified government entered a one-year contract with KU to manage a new ethics program through November 1999.

Frederickson said he was unaware of any U.S. university with a similar arrangement with a municipal government.

"We think we've struck on a model that may have some promise for other jurisdictions. It's very applied, very practical, very real-world, very current."

Frederickson teaches ethics at KU and has consulted on formation of the unified government for more than three years.

The university will be paid an hourly rate for ethics services to the unified government. At Frederickson's urging, the contract stipulates that he receive no pay beyond his university salary. Faculty and graduate students will assist Frederickson, who will be the part-time ethics administrator.

In the next two months, all elected officials in the unified government will receive four hours of ethics training. Topics will include conflict of interest, the difference between impropriety and the appearance of impropriety and a survey of the unified government's new code of ethics.

Training for employees -- everyone from secretaries to supervisors -- will begin next year.

"After the training, they'll be given a certificate of completion plus they'll have a judge there and they'll swear the oath to be ethical and legal," Frederickson said.

He said an office would be established so employees could report suspected ethics infractions. Frederickson and associates will have the freedom to investigate allegations and issue reports. Complaints will remain confidential.

"That, we think, is important and unique."

He said the ethics office will be an independent outfit.

"We don't work for the mayor. We don't work for the new unified commission. We don't work for the judge."

-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is tcarpenter@ljworld.com.

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