The ownership disclosures required by Southington’s revised ethics code for all elected public officials and non-union public employees, such as department heads, have been filed. Some people listed only their employer and their residence, others included side businesses and investment property they own in town.
This was a very controversial issue when the revised code was passed by the Town Council – unanimously – last May.
The main objections, voiced most prominently by Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio, were the claims that such disclosure was an invasion of privacy and that it would deter people from running for office.
The privacy objection, in our view, is overridden by the need for transparency in government. With so much money being disbursed by the town every year, and with real estate transactions so often involved, the public simply has a right to know who owns what. If you want to serve the public, this much openness comes with the territory.
As for the other objection, it does not seem to have panned out; there was no shortage of names on the municipal ballot in November.
“It certainly didn’t stop anybody from running for office,” said Ed Pocock III, a Republican, who proposed the disclosure requirements. “People want to be part of an honest government. They don’t want to be part of a good-old-boy network.”
Others who supported the reforms, including Republican Cheryl Lounsbury and Democrats Chris Palmieri and Dawn Miceli, also deserve credit for bringing about this change in favor of government transparency.
It was not directed against anyone; it was enacted for the people of Southington.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: While it would be very nice to believe that everyone involved is, and always will be, honest and above board, it would also be very naïve. The matter has been dealt with, and now everyone can move on.