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The City Board of Ethics: It's Not Just FOIA Requests

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 3, 2006 5:40PM

While Topinka and G-Rod tried desperately to link each other to convicted former Governor George Ryan in last night’s debate, the Executive Director of Chicago’s Board of Ethics was handing in her resignation. More time with the retiring husband, she says.

Dorothy Eng served as the ethics chief in the city since the first day Daley took office. In 1998, she was given a 37% pay increase, and her staff was increased to 11, one year after the City Council gave the Daley-appointed Board subpoena power. While largely advisory in nature, the Board of Ethics has made such major changes to the management of city ethical behavior as requiring training for all employees.

Ultimately, whether Eng runs the show or not, no ethics board can realistically hope to stop the kind of malarkey that is so endemic to Cook County and Chicago. While the Board has pretty much let Daley call the shots, they haven’t been involved in much controversy, with Eng preferring a low-profile shop, for better or for worse. As Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association pointed out, it’s mostly been the media that have stopped or exposed ethical lapses, not the Board of Ethics. But then when you aren’t actually regulating the ethical actions of city government, you don’t tend to call attention to yourself.