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Laura Johnston
By Laura Johnston February 2, 2011

FitzGerald's first executive order the first step for ethics policy

To win over voters weary of corruption scandals, Ed FitzGerald promised to institute ethics reform as the first Cuyahoga County executive.

The issue was No. 1 on his campaign"s Five Points plan.

And it was No. 1 on his to-do list, too. In his first official act, he signed an ethics policy for county staff. The County Council approved the same policy that evening.

The policy states that employees may not accept gifts that would influence their official duties, may not hold outside jobs without approval and must report wrongdoing. It had previously applied to employees of county commissioners, though not separately elected officials, such as the auditor or engineer.

FitzGerald said he is still fine-tuning policies and job descriptions, which will make it easier to discipline employees. And County Council is considering a tougher ethics policy recommended by a volunteer transition committee.

The League of Women Voters is still pushing for that ethics code, which bars county employees from hiring relatives or business associates and requires lobbyists and contractors to file disclosure forms that would be posted on a public web site. It also calls for a county ethics board to enforce the code.

Extending the former county commissioners" ethics policy to all county employees now under the county executive is a start, but FitzGerald still has work to do to complete this promise. FitzGerald has not yet instituted a new policy, one he described as "rigorous” on his campaign web site.

Still, the steps he has taken up to now are enough for us to move the Fitz-O-Meter for this promise to In the Works.

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