LAX-Ethic Standards?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
L.A. airport operations to get office to set ethical standards
By Rick Orlov
The Los Angeles (CA) Daily News

In a move designed to improve its tarnished image, the Airport Commission voted Monday to create an office that will set ethical standards and investigate suspected misconduct in the city’s airport operations. The Office of Ethics and Business Conduct will train employees and provide information to contractors, consultants and others on how to deal with Los Angeles World Airports.

“This will enhance the public’s trust in our government,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Public service is an honor and with it goes responsibility. Every decision must be made in the public’s interest.”

Ongoing criminal investigations into possible contracting irregularities at City Hall were prompted last year by allegations that companies had to make political contributions in order to win consideration from the Airport Commission.

Since taking office on July 1, Villaraigosa has vowed to eliminate the potential for “pay-to-play” politics by removing all lobbyists from city commissions and appointing his own ethics czar to enforce city regulations.

LAWA’s new ethics office will ensure the airport department develops and follows a code of ethics in its business dealings and also will create a whistle-blower system for people to report suspicions of misconduct.

“High standards of ethics and business conduct are a prerequisite for everything we want to achieve at our airports,” said Lydia Kennard, named by Villaraigosa earlier this month to take over as LAWA chief. “My first goal is to ensure LAWA conducts its business in accordance with the highest standards.”

Kennard said the new office will be modeled after those in place at other large corporations and governmental institutions and hopes it will serve as a prototype for other city agencies.

Among its first duties will be to survey LAWA staff and develop a code of ethics, then train workers and provide information to contractors, consultants and others on the city’s regulations.

Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Study, who was involved in drafting the original city ethics laws, said he applauds the attention being given ethics but wants to make sure it works in coordination with the city Ethics Commission.

“That would be my only concern, that this does not replace what the Ethics Commission does,” Stern said. “The code of business conduct is something completely different, but also appropriate. What is best about all this is the fact that any attention at all is being paid to the issues of ethics in government.”

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