Loose Lips

Once Mandatory Ethics Pledge Now Optional

Yesterday Mayor Vince Gray's staff had to take an ethics training class. The takeaway, according to one participant: don't do anything!

One thing that city employees won't have to do is sign a ten-point ethics pledge. The mayor circulated said pledge in February, on the same day that news broke that dozens of city employees had  likely been breaking the law while collecting unemployment benefits while working for the District. LL asked the mayor's spokesman back then whether the pledge was mandatory. He said it was.

When some employees balked at signing the pledge, Attorney General Irv Nathan put out a letter last month saying non-signers could get into trouble: "If, then, an employee disagrees with and refuses to sign the pledge, that refusal may be considered insubordination and subject the employee to disciplinary action."

But that hard line was not meant to last. In recent days, District employees received an email from the H.R. department informing them that no one, in fact, will be punished for not signing the pledge.

To clarify, employees will not be disciplined for disagreeing with, or not taking, the Ethics Pledge. However, each provision of the Ethics Pledge is supported by a corresponding Federal or District statute and employees may be disciplined for any violation of those statutes.

As a reminder, the deadline for completing the Ethics Pledge is April 17, 2012. All agencies will continue to work toward that goal; however, employees will not be disciplined for not taking the pledge by the deadline.

So, in other words, it's not really a pledge—more like a request!

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • truth hurts

    What a bumbling city!

  • DJ Ren

    One City: Failings great, failings small - when it comes to incompetence, we do it all!

  • InTheMixx

    Well, how about giving preference to employees who volunteered to sign the pledge when it comes to promotion and upward mobility.

  • Kyle W

    If you aren't willing to sign the ethics pledge, join the unemployed. Plain and simple.

  • Lee

    there's no need to sign a pledge if the elements of the pledge are in the law. ignorance of the law is no excuse. i guess signing a pledge will stop the ethical criminal (sarcasm)!

  • DC Tax Payer

    No wonder the District is the laughing stock of the country. And as residents we keep electing the same fools to govern the city. Bring back the Control Board!

  • Wilhelm Ogle

    Forget the Control Board. Just endorse the Constitution and repeal the illegal "Home Rule" act.

  • InTheMixx

    Speak for yourself DC Tax Payer. I've always seen people that desire for a federal big brother to come back in and take over the government to be like slaves praying that master come back in and take over their lives. So hopeless that they can't take care of themselves.

    The few District residents that want that again are on that pitiful island all by themselves.

  • InTheMixx

    @Wilhelm Ogle, nothing illegal about the Home Rule Act. It was endorsed by Congress.


  • Washingtonian

    Many DC government employees saw this mandatory requirement to sign an ethics pledge as a throwback to the McCarthy era from the 1950s. It was merely for show. If the Mayor wanted to give the appearance of doing something, all he needed to do was to prepare an ethics one pager for distribution and to have employees sign that they received it. Period! Employees were basically forced to first sign the pledge first and then were forced, after the fact, to take mandatory Ethics training. The Training should have been first. Employees feel they have been hoodwinked again, but this time by Mayor Gray; he has a tin ear and is not listening to the complaints of those who must endure the immaturity, inexperience, and uncaring behavior of management staff and mean-spirited human resource (HR) personnel. HR should be centralized; the agencies should only have one or two agency representatives that report dually to main HR and agency heads. What is going on now is scandalous.

  • Washingtonian

    And one more thing: one issue with this Ethics Pledge was that the language in the pledge was slightly changed from the wording of the law. This troubled many employees. If anything is going to be listed, just list the law. Additional language was placed in the pledge essentially making people sign to altered language or someone's interpretation. The agency I am currently associated with is being run by the previous Fenty crowd; that crowd retains the Fenty way of doing things and the Fenty view of employees: crack the whip, think the worse, base decisions solely on who you like, discriminate against those you don't like, put people in a position to fail. The end result is a workplace filled with the air of the whip and gotcha. Mayor Gray was not voted in as Mayor to keep the Fenty meanness as the way of doing business. There is a lot of distrust. Things are imposed on employees and the management staff ARE themselves without ethics, fairness, or integrity. So what do you expect. Election time is fast coming.

  • http://btolson1@verizonnet.com Susan

    Do you think Gray is attempting to enforce ethics training because he is the REAL criminal?

    Its quite ironic that when the truth comes out regarding his campaign, he will go down to being the biggest criminal yet.

    Where is Lorraine now days?