Chicago mayor replaces Ethics Board

October 3, 2012

Quinn Ford and the Associated Press

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Wednesday he was replacing the city’s entire Board of Ethics.

The board was formed in 1987 to ensure aldermen and other city officials follow the city’s ethics ordinance. That includes educating city workers about the ordinance, regulating lobbyists and campaign contributors, and investigating complaints.

But the board has been criticized in the past for a lack of action, and Emanuel said he expects his seven new nominees to change that.

“I wanted to start with a new energy and a new commitment with a totally new board, all of them, with the type of professionalism and commitment to raising the ethical standards, conduct and oversight in city government,” Emanuel said. ““I want to turn the name that Chicago has, its politics.”

When asked why Chicagoans should believe new board members would make any difference, Emanuel said it is up to the public to hold them accountable.

“All of us will have a job to make sure they’re not just another rubber stamp,” Emanuel said. “I can’t prejudge it for you. I do think though, based on their history, based on their resume, based on their background and the way they have pursued what they’ve done in the past, I have confidence.”

The Board of Ethics is made up of seven members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Members are unpaid and serve four-year terms; they cannot hold any elected, appointed or political office.

A spokesperson for the mayor said Emanuel asked three members of the current board to resign. Another three members were serving on expired terms, and a seventh spot was vacant.

The new board will be chaired by Stephen Beard, an executive and general counsel at an executive search firm called Heidrick and Struggles.

Other nominees include: Illinois Appellate Court Judge Michael Gallagher; former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Julia Nowicki; former Chicago budget official Russell Carlson; community development expert Fran Grossman; Community and Economic Development Association executive Daisy Lezama; and theologian and pastor Mary Trout Carr.