In the wake of the now patched-up controversy involving charges of legislative vote-buying by Douglas Administration Transportation Secretary Neale Lunderville, Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington has called for the establishment in law of a state ethics code for the executive and legislative branches, as well as creation of an "ethics council" or "ethics commission" to enforce it.
At his weekly press conference Wednesday, Republican Gov Jim Douglas was asked if he agreed with Symington?
DOUGLAS: “I don’t think we need a new bureaucracy to monitor the performance of our public officials. I think Vermont is a state where we can be proud of the people that serve in all branches of government, people who for the most part are above reproach, people of integrity and people who follow the constitutional edict of serving the public and acting in the public interest.
"I believe that codes of ethics are appropriate. The judiciary has the canons of ethics for attorneys and judges.
"Four governors in a row have adopted executive codes of ethics.
"Frankly, the only branch of government that doesn’t have a code of ethics is the Legislature and I think it would be very appropriate for them to adopt one."
Lunderville first served Gov. Scissorhands as his young and successful twenty-something campaign manager in the 2002 race and followed up in that role in 2004. In between campaign seasons, the Boy Wonder has been a key member of the governor’s 5th floor inner circle. Neale was appointed to the transportation secretary position last year despite having absolutely no experience or training in the field. Gov. Douglas was asked if the Boy Wonder's political past and lack of "transportation" experience reinforced the impression he wasn’t the right choice for the position?
DOUGLAS: "On the contrary, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. As soon as he was appointed, Sen. Mazza ( Dick Mazza, a Chittenden/Grande Isle Democrat and chairman of the Transportation Committee), spoke very positively about the choice. I think everybody who sees the work that he’s done knows that he’s just the right person for the job!....I think he’s doing a great job!"
On other matters of "ethics" in politics, Gov. Douglas was asked if he "has confidence in U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," who is scheduled to testify under oath and in public Thursday before U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Judiciary Committee.
Douglas refused to give a "yes" or "no" answer, instead telling reporters we "should let the process go forward," and we should "wait and see what Gonzales has to say before the committee."
And speaking of ethics in government and media...
Here's a picture I shot around 11:20 A.M. on State Street in Montpelier across from the Pavilion Building.
Won't see this on the Six O'Clock News, eh?
I dare say it's solid evidence WCAX-TV News doesn't get any special breaks from les gendarmes of the parking space in Vermont's state capital.
When it comes to parking, everybody pays.