To analyze the current practices and procedures associated with the city’s Ethics Policy, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh implemented the Ethics Committee to review relevant changes and implement new programs.
The committee will enact a new Statement of Financial Interest for city employees and make changes to education programs pertaining to ethics issues, among other responsibilities. Walsh appointed Eugene O’Flaherty, Elissa Flynn-Poppey, Peter Sturges and Chancellor Keith Motley to the committee, a Thursday release stated.
“[The committee] will work diligently to reassess our internal policies and procedures,” Walsh said in the release. “All through the campaign, we talked about establishing an even stronger culture of ethical behavior and transparency in city government. The citizens of Boston and those who interact with our government should be absolutely confident that their government is working for them, at the highest ethical standards.”
Walsh said he chose the committee appointees for their active participation in city government and familiarity with current policies and regulations, values that will help them to evaluate the city’s current ethics codes, according to the release.
“The City of Boston is fortunate to have an experienced and talented, diverse group of individuals to review and make recommendations about out ethics policies,” he said.
Several professors said they appreciate Walsh’s efforts to increase transparency between the city and its constituents, and they are looking forward to the implementation of the ethics committee.
Kathleen Einstein, a political science professor at Boston University, said the ethics committee would allow the city to focus on current financial policies, but it should go further and tackle issues such as corruption.
“It seems like Mayor Walsh is pushing for more transparency,” she said. “Financial issues should take priority, as it seems that they are, but the priority should be improving transparency and preventing corruption.”
Timothy Longman, a professor of political science at BU, said Walsh has proposed strong goals for the committee, but the decisions made by the committee’s members may not follow his original plans.
“The question is whether or not these people will remain independent of what Mayor Walsh wants, so that instead they can focus on the needs of the city,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding, and it depends on whether the mayor lets them do their work. By establishing an ethics committee early on, the mayor does establish ethics as being important to him and to the city.”
Several residents said the Ethics Committee would be beneficial to the City of Boston if the program is properly implemented.
Cassie Moore, 26, of Boston, said the committee would help businesses establish the thin line between ethical and unethical practices.
“Boston has a lot of potential and has come a long way,” she said. “I have noticed that it’s really hard to distinguish between what is ethical and what is profitable for businesses. I’m all for progress, but especially with technology, the line between ethical or profitable is very thin.”
Pierre Lamarre, 26, of the North End, said people should be aware of the ethical issues in the city and encourage the government to maintain ethical standards.
“Ethics is always a good thing,” he said. “People should know more about ethics. It’s good that there’s a committee dedicated [to] making sure the government is ethically sound.”
David Mather, 48, of Allston, said he hopes Walsh can accomplish as much as former Mayor Thomas Menino did while he was in office and allow the committee to function on their own.
“Menino has done a lot and Walsh is going to continue to do more,” he said. “I agree with the need for a government that maintains ethics, but there are so many different things that need to be addressed. Hopefully Mayor Walsh is able to oversee that committee without getting too involved.”
Mina Corpuz contributed to the reporting of this article.