Monday, January 4, 2010

Open Government

So let's hear it for the state, finally, cracking down on those who would use their government positions--either paid or unpaid--for personal gain: The new Conflict of Interest regulations require online training for all municipal employees and provides real punishment for those found in violation.

• Criminal penalties for bribery have been increased: up to a $100,000 fine, or imprisonment in state prison for up to 10 years or in jail or a house of correction for up to 2½ years, or both.

• Civil penalties for bribery increase from $2,000 to $25,000. Civil penalties for all other ethics violations increase from $2,000 per violation to $10,000 per violation.

The Open Meeting Law will now be enforced by the Attorney General rather than local District Attorney and cities and towns will now have to publish on the web campaign contribution forms for any local office.

Unfortunately the state did not enact fines on individuals found guilty of violating of the Open Meeting Law--something watchdogs have long requested. And private citizens who challenge the actions of a governmental body and wins still cannot collect costs and attorneys' fees for bringing those actions.

But hey, half a loaf is better than none.

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