Friday, July 14, 2017

Letter to the Editor "Code Of Ethics", Press & Dakotan, July 13, 2017

Letter to the Editor, George Fournier MD, FACS, Yankton, Press & Dakotan,

Code Of Ethics

"With the current controversy surrounding the permitting of CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations] in Yankton County and concerns being voiced about the seeming unethical and almost subliminal way the commissioners and the zoning commission have relaxed zoning laws for proposed CAFOs, I asked the question: Is there a code of ethics and principles that Yankton County commissioners must adhere to in the performance of their duties as commissioners?

A Google search of the topic as well as a search of the county web site fails to specify the code. What is out there is a Commissioners Handbook, authored by the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners (SDACC). I read the second edition. The ethics section is on page 17.

Reading the section several times gives me the sinking feeling that there are potential ethical land mines faced by the commissioners. Two of the five commissioners are officers at a local bank, and a third is described in his bio on the commissioners’ website as, “He runs a diversified operations of alfalfa, soybeans, corn and hogs. Ray sits on many agricultural-related boards and is all about the future of the industry.” Really? Is he also all about the welfare of the citizens who elected him to office?

In the ethics section of the SDACC Commissioner’s Handbook on page 18: “… they should abstain from a vote on issues on which they would profit or enhance a relationship.” Clearly there are potential ethical issues facing our commissioners that need to be cleared up.

Should these three commissioners recuse themselves from voting on CAFO issues to avoid the appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest? It is unsettling to think that Yankton County commissioners could be blatantly violating the code of ethics suggested by their association."

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