A2Ethics Press Release: An Ethics Policy for Ann Arbor's Elected Officials?

On October 2, 2013, A2Ethics issued a press release to local media outlets about our new City & Local Ethics podcast series. Please share this news with other A2Ethics enthusiasts:  

A2Ethics.org launches the City & Local Ethics podcast series to invite discussion on ethics guidelines for local office holders

How can city officials craft a social media policy that encourages open government and respects citizen participation? What training is available to City Council members to educate them about conflicts of interest? Is it ever appropriate for a local official to fundraise from city employees for a favorite nonprofit? Is it ethical for former elected officials to work for firms that have city contracts?

These are just a few of the many issues that could, should and will be addressed if local nonprofit A2Ethics.org succeeds in its grassroots effort to inform Ann Arbor residents and city officials about the value of instituting a formal ethics policy and education program for elected officials.

According to Jeanine DeLay, an ethics educator and co-founder of A2Ethics.org, Ann Arbor is one of a number of Michigan cities without an official city ethics policy. 

"People sometimes say that Ann Arbor is known for being an ethical city and doesn't need a local government ethics policy," says DeLay. "Yet in a time when privatization of city services is increasing and new forms of transparency are in demand, a city ethics policy makes common sense, and works for the common good. Not only does a city ethics policy help city officials understand the obligations of professionalism in doing the public's work, it also gives citizens an opportunity to evaluate how well public servants are doing their jobs."

DeLay points out that, in the past, other community advocates have called for fair and open government. As she notes, “We want to add our voice by persuading City Hall to follow what other city governments across the state have already done: to establish a strong ethics policy, supported by an independent ethics commission whose charge is to provide sound ethics guidelines rather than simply offer legal or compliance advice on ethics-related matters.”

A2Ethics.org is helping to create an ongoing public dialogue about a city ethics policy through a series of thought-provoking podcasts. Known as City & Local Ethics, these conversations feature elected officials and other community leaders offering insights about common ethics issues they encounter in their work.

The first podcasts in City & Local Ethics include conversations with Ann Arbor Public Schools board member Glenn Nelson, speaking on ethics and school boards, and Ann Arbor (D-Ward 3) City Council member Steve Kunselman, discussing ethics and City Council members.

Continuing through October, City & Local Ethics will highlight issues ranging from responsible social media policies for local government  to the effectiveness of city ethics policies in other Michigan cities. 

Of course, an election year offers the rare opportunity of talking about broader issues, so the podcasts will also take on the topics of campaign ethics and election finance, among them, the ethics investigations of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network and the advocacy dilemmas of the Michigan Women’s Power Assembly.

Just before election day, the final podcast will focus on voting ethics and pose the provocative question: do we as citizens have a duty to vote?

The mission of A2Ethics is to give ethics a permanent voice and place in our local communities. Founded in 2008 by three local community leaders as an online resource and educational tool, the nonprofit has continued to expand. Leveraging social media and creative programming to reach every corner of the community, the organization now includes an impressive constellation of media resources, programs and partnerships.

Current initiatives include two popular podcast series, Working Ethics and The Michigan Ethics Economy Initiative; community events such as the Big Ethical Question Slam, a one-of-a-kind ethics improv competition in which teams from local organizations compete for a cash prize by responding to major ethical questions; arts collaborations with other local nonprofit organizations; and membership in Think Local First.

For more information about the City & Local Ethics podcast series, visit www.a2ethics.org.

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