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updated: 8/1/2012 5:30 PM

DuPage election panel considers ethics change

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The DuPage County Election Commission is expected to vote Thursday on an agreement to give the county authority to handle future ethics complaints filed against the agency.

If the election board approves a memorandum of understanding with the county, the commission will become the first local agency to agree to use the DuPage County Ethics Commission and the county's investigator general to review complaints.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said he's "delighted" about the arrangement, which he hopes is adopted by other local government entities.

"It's vitally important that the election commission have the faith, trust and confidence of the public because of the nature of its business (overseeing) elections," Cronin said.

A recent series of consultant reports found a number of agencies in the county either had no ethics rules or "substandard" policies, according to Cronin.

"There wasn't a clear message to employees about where they go and what they do in the event they witness something that was improper," he said.

In June, the county board took steps to help county-appointed agencies bring their ethics policies in line with the county's ethics policy.

To date, eight agencies have adopted the county's ethics ordinance, including the DuPage Airport Authority, Naperville Fire Protection District, West Chicago Fire Protection District and Wheaton Sanitary District.

But the election commission would be the first to take the extra step of using the county's bipartisan ethics panel on an as-needed basis.

The commission also would use the investigator general, who is responsible for receiving and reviewing ethics complaints. He acts as the prosecutor of a complaint if there's a hearing.

Cronin said he is committed to having the county's ethics commission, which hasn't had a hearing in three years, be more active.

"We are going to be a model of how ethics are administered," Cronin said. "It doesn't make sense to have a patchwork of different policies. It's too complicated."

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