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posted: 3/13/2010 12:01 AM

Officials get first look at Kane Co. ethics reform proposal

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Kane County's ethics reform proposal might not be ticketed for fast-track approval, but it did inch forward in debate Friday as a county board committee reviewed the plan for the first time.

The discussion centered on the board's legal ability to impose new restrictions upon itself. The Judicial and Public Safety Committee asked State's Attorney John Barsanti to review the entire proposal.

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"We can do that, but it will take some time," said Barsanti, who then made his role in the process clear.

"The policy is up to you," he said. "Whether it's a good idea or not, that's up to you."

County board member Jim Mitchell put forward the ethics reform proposal and indicated he hoped Barsanti's review wouldn't take too long. Mitchell said the proposal is identical to the list of reforms recently instituted by DuPage County with a few changes. Namely, Mitchell's proposal further limits the monetary value of gifts to board members and restricts the ability of county board members to take a county job or paid appointment.

"I'm not sure you need to review the whole thing," Mitchell said.

Barsanti and county board member Mike Kenyon disagreed. Barsanti said he couldn't simply rubber stamp the proposed ordinance just because DuPage County endorsed it. He'd have to do his own review before putting his name on a legal opinion. Kenyon said a full review ensures no mistakes.

"We want it to be right," Kenyon said. "I'm just guessing the whole board wants to make sure it's the right thing, the right legal thing."

Barsanti did not set a timetable for when he'll complete his review. The county board's Human Services Committee will review the ethics proposal next in a special meeting.

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