Fellow Irving Citizens,
Why Update the City of Irving’s Ethics Policy?
Since I was first honored to be chosen by the people of Irving to represent them on City Council and then as Mayor, my promise to those very same people has been, and is now, to work to ensure Irving officials are held to a higher standard by strengthening the City’s Ethics Policy.
A strengthened Ethics Policy not only will make the City workings more transparent and accountable, it will also be a positive statement to business interests who are investing in Irving or considering moving to Irving.
Opponents say a revised Ethics Policy is unnecessary and Irving’s officials do not need someone looking over their shoulders. I disagree. My campaigns were against the backroom deals and outlandish sums of money poured into my opponent’s coffers by certain individuals who were doing business with the City and stood to make millions in profits had my opponent been re-elected. The past two election results showed that the people of Irving agreed that this abusive situation needed to stop.
The City has some great opportunities to grow, add new employment opportunities, create developments with high quality of life standards and strengthen the future for our families. Now is the time to make a declarative and unanimous statement that Irving’s future will not only be bright, but it will be built on honest, straight-forward government policies.
Three Common Sense Pillars of Ethics Reform
Breaking the Backroom Deals – Identifying the Lobbyists
The new Ethics Policy will ensure individuals accepting board appointments meet certain ethical standards to prevent conflict of interest situations and that those acting as lobbyists will be identified as such.
Currently, there is no guiding policy regarding board appointments or lobbyist disclosure, which means:
- individuals could be appointed to a board even though they have direct business interests with the city and could steer decisions to benefit their interests; and
- once appointed or involved with city decision making, these individuals could represent themselves to outside business interests as having insider knowledge and influence on city activity.
The new Ethics Policy limits these conflicts and the policy requires the registration of lobbyists who are either receiving more than $500 for a single interest or more than $2,000 from multiple interests. This will ensure that people coming before council or representing interests before Council will be known and their business interests clearly understood.
No More Attempts to Buy an Election
$968,519.13 in direct contributions and loans – that is the amount developer Billy Bob Barnett poured into former Mayor Herb Gears’ campaign during 2011. Make no mistake, given the millions of tax dollars Billy Bob had previously received (though he’d done no substantive work whatsoever), this $968,519 was essentially our precious tax dollars being laundered through Barnett to pay for Herb Gears’ election.
NEVER AGAIN – With the updated Ethics Policy, the City will LIMIT contributions from individuals and organizations to no more than $10,000 for single member council districts and no more than $25,000 for at large positions.
Additionally, the Policy will PROHIBIT individuals and their close associates (family, lobbyists, legal signatories, etc.) who are seeking discretionary contracts with the City from donating to campaigns. This will apply where a contract is pending, active, or under consideration by the City Council.
More Disclosure and Transparency in City Council Operations
For the citizens of Irving to know who is petitioning for business with the City, there will be more disclosure of contractor information, their partners, and others who stand to benefit from contract work.
Additionally, the new Policy will no longer allow City Officials who are members of a board or other City body to represent clients before those boards of which they are members or before City Staff who have responsibility to that board. The revised Policy will not allow those same City Officials to accept compensation to represent anyone other than themselves or an immediate family member.
These are three simple, common-sense pillars of our new Ethics Policy:
- Stop the backroom deals;
- Limit contributions for campaigns; and
- Require disclosure and transparency by those who seek to do business with our city.
I urge the citizens of Irving to join with me and stand for this common sense reform.
Mayor Beth VanDuyne