Yesterday, I commented on the Northwest Herald’s recommendation that the McHenry County Board move forward on enacting some form of the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water’s proposed conflict of interest ordinance.
I disagreed with the NW Herald editorial writers’ willingness to allow those who are not paid, e.g., planning and zoning commissioners, to get away without revealing their local property ownerships. Clearly, there could be potential conflicts of interest.
The editorial also did not mention including employees and consultants.
These categories of people who financially benefit from county government should be included in any enhanced ethics ordinance, in my opinion.
Thinking things ethical brought to mind another real estate matter that needs sunshine.
Imagine for a moment that a local municipal official went into the real estate business. In the town where he/she is an elected official.
Imagine further that another local tax district decides to buy some property, but before that other tax district will buy it, it suggests it might be a good idea to designate the elected municipal official as the seller’s real estate agent.
Understand the land selection has already been determined; the tax district is just trying to make sure the elected municipal official gets a commission.
Had I heard of this at the time it happened, I would have been on the phone with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
It is that wrong.
This year, I noticed that Metra has figured out a way to protect themselves from similar charges.
It’s pretty simple really.
In the contract to buy land, for instance, the new Ridgefield commuter station, there is a section which says who will get the commission.
I believe that is a good example for local tax districts to follow.