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