Wednesday, June 20, 2007


By Faith Chatham
DFW REGIONAL CONCERNED CITIZENS believes that ethics and transparency in government is vital for public confidence.

We especially applaud governments who have clearly defined ethics rules and endeavor to achieve full complaince by officials, staff and advisors of their organization and full disclosure by vendors and those seeking to do business with their governmental entity.

We are noticing an uneven application of some key Texas Local Governments ethics rules between governments and political subdivisions in this 16 country region. For several months we have been engaging informally in discussions with various city, county and regional officials about public disclosure and ethics.

We hope that all governmental entities will come into full compliance with Texas Local Government Code 176.

Some governments wrote their ethics rules prior to the 78th and 80th Legislative Session of the Texas Legislature when Chapter 176 was established and amended. We recommend that all governments and political subdivision review the exisiting wording in their ethics codes and bring them into conformity with Chapter 176 of the Local Government Code. In the Side Bar of this site, we have links to the Texas Ethics Boards discussion of Chapter 176 and the disclosure forms, the two house bills which enacted the rules, and the Attorney General's opinion on the application of Chapter 176. We hope these resources will help governments assess these rules and evaluate whether they are in compliance with the regulations.

Chapter 176 applies a broader definition of conflict of interest than the 10% financial interest rule in Chapter 171. Chapter 176 requires decision makers and potential vendors to disclose relationship. Elected officals and their advisors who serve on boards, even if unpaid, must disclose relationships with potential bidders or vendors. The disclosure forms are to be submitted within 7 days of the discovery of a potential bid or intention to pursue business with the government or political subdivision.... These disclosure forms are to be made available to the public. If the governmental entity maintains a website, they are to be posted on the website for the public to examine. The law establishing Chapter 176 clearly states that the intent of the law is to inform the public of the relationships between governmental decision makers and those who contract with or seek to do business with the governmental entity.

We have begun an informal survey of the ethics rules posted on governmental websites in the 16 county NCTCOG region. We are discovering that some bodies approach ethics with a "broad stroke" while others clearly define and spell out the rules. There appears to be a wide gap between those who attempt to educate and enforce ethics rules, especially compliance with Chapter 176, and those who seem to pay less attention to complying with these laws.

We will begin an informal assessment of the ethics rules as posted on governmental websites. We will assess them for content and clarity of the ethics codes in their published policy and for evidence of compliance with Chapter 176 on their websites.
We will publish the degree of compliance and clarity of the published codes on our website. When notified of changes, we will gladly go back and reassess those entities and and publish updates to our assessment.

We do not claim to be experts in ethics or lawyers. We are a citizens group and will view the codes and compliance as citizens. Our goal is to be able to show appreciation to those governments which are leaders in applying high ethical standards to the people's business, and to enable other governments to know that there are examples of excellence in our region. Hopefully, those with identified deficiencies will find other nearby neighbors who they can use as models to inspire and assist them in achieving greater transparency and compliance.

In addition to examining website for ethics, we will also look for ways the government makes it easier for citizens to participate in the process and to be informed in a timely manner of important issues.

Fair Use

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Material from diverse and sometimes temporary sources is being made available in a permanent unified manner, as part of an effort to advance understanding of the social justice issues associated with eminent domain and the privatization of public infrastructure. It is believed that this is a 'fair use' of the information as allowed under section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 USC Section 107, the site is maintained without profit for those who access it for research and educational purposes. For more information, see: To use material reproduced on this site for purposes that go beyond 'fair use', permission is required from the copyright owner indicated with a name and an Internet link at the end of each item. [NOTE: The text of this notice was lifted from]

See ARCHIVE on side bar

Content is being archived weekly. Many pertinent articles regarding Transportation in the DFW Region are in the archives.

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. - Thomas Jefferson

The Opnions On this Site are Diverse

DFW Regional Concerned Citizens attempts to examine issues from all directions. When a story says "By Faith Chatham" it contains my viewpoint. When it is by others, but posted by Faith Chatham, it is from someone else's viewpoint. When I discover contents which is on topic for this site, I frequently link to other sites. Usually those sites contain content which differs from my viewpoint (and frequently that of other members of DFW-RCC).