The newest member of the Allen County Ethics Commission would rather prevent misbehavior than punish it.
So IPFW Department of Philosophy professor Abraham Schwab – who was expected to participate in his first meeting as a commission member on Friday – wants to help county employees and elected officials become better aware of their obligations under the 2005 ordinance that resulted in a conflict-of-interest complaint against County Councilman Paul Moss that ended late last year, after a five-month investigation that resulted in an apology from Moss but no official action from the board.
“I prefer education, not retribution,” said Schwab, who was appointed to the Commission in January to replace former Allen Circuit Judge Tom Ryan, who resigned in October in protest of the board's handling of the Moss case. A former county employee had accused Moss of a conflict of interest for calling Sheriff Ken Fries following a traffic stop last June.
Schwab said he also hopes to participate in any amendments the Commissioners may make to the ordinance after discussing the issue with fellow members Wendy Stein and Tom Hardin, who have also suggested the need for improvements in the wake of the Moss case.
“When I grade my students, there are clearly identified outcomes based on certain metrics. (The ordinance) should be the same way. There's always room for improvement,” said Schwab, who teaches a variety of ethics courses.
Although the Commission has little authority over elected officials – “we can't un-elect them,” Schwab said – he wants members to make it clear to elected officials that they must avoid not only the reality but also the appearance of misbehavior “so the public can see” what happened. Moss did not seek re-election and his term on Council ended Dec. 31.
The agenda for Friday's meeting consists of routine matters, such as disclosures from employees and officials who accepted small gifts, including free tickets to the recent Batman program at the Coliseum.