EDITORIAL | Langley ethics board has a tough job

  • Saturday, October 28, 2017 1:17pm
  • Opinion

The Langley Ethics Training and Advisory Board has its hands full this month with four separate reviews, including one levied against one of its own members.

The complaint levied against board member Monica Guzman by City Councilman Burt Beusch is an interesting one to be sure. It alleges that Guzman libeled Beusch by writing a letter to the editor falsely characterizing him as a Trump supporter. He says the letter damaged his reputation during an election and that Guzman’s actions were unethical because she should be impartial as a member of the ethics board.

Concerning the topic of Trump, there seems to be a perception that asking candidates how they feel about the man is somehow anathema because the council races are nonpartisan. Rubbish. Council positions are as nonpartisan as county positions such as the sheriff or coroner are partisan, which they technically are. Council members do provide oversight, but they are not managers or department heads. They’re lawmakers. So what they think about federal issues such as the environment, sanctuary cities or the most controversial man in the world is entirely appropriate and fair game. As this complaint highlights, the answer to the question is pretty important to those they are choosing as their elected representatives.

The issue before the ethics board, however, isn’t about presidential support. It weighs in one hand the sacred right of freedom of speech, and in the other ethical guidelines and obligations that all Langley public servants agree to uphold as city officials. It’s our opinion that the former trumps the latter, always, but the ethics board doesn’t have the luxury of basing its decisions on what it feels is right or just — opinions are stacked against the principles of conduct outlined in city code. Were they violated or not? That’s the only question the body must answer.

In that context, we don’t envy the job of the ethics board. We trust that they will make the best decision possible.

More in Opinion

Editorial: Federal agency needs to hear from wide range of voices

No matter how they feel about EA-18G Growlers, Whidbey residents should consider… Continue reading

Letter: Global warming no hoax; help to save environment

Editor, Rick Kiser’s letter to the editor on Dec. 15 suggests that… Continue reading

Letter: Langley’s handling of records requests dubious

Editor, It was interesting to hear the city of Langley blame the… Continue reading

Letter: The food bank powered through a power outage

Editor, I don’t often get to send a thank you via the… Continue reading

Cartoon for Dec. 15, 2018

Cartoon for Dec. 15, 2018… Continue reading

Letter: Navy, country need place for Growlers to practice

Editor, As a retired master chief who served at Whidbey Island, both… Continue reading

Letter: Our island community making a big difference

Editor, Thanks to Laura Guido for her article, “Making Art to Make… Continue reading

Letter: Insurance cuts a slap in the face

Editor, WhidbeyHealth recently announced budget cuts, as noted in the South Whidbey… Continue reading

Letter: Arrest by deputies’ helped avert potential tragedy

Editor, On Nov. 21, we on Whidbey Island were very likely in… Continue reading

Most Read