Originally published December 20, 2010--County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has introduced new, wide-ranging ethics rules as part of her comprehensive 100 Day Reform Initiative.
Preckwinkle issued her second executive order on Monday expanding the number of employees who are required to receive ethics training as well as the frequency of those trainings.
Previously, only about 500 elected officials, their staff and county employees were required to participate in ethics training within 120 days of becoming an elected official or their hire date.
Under Preckwinkle’s new mandate, all 2,000 employees working under the office of the president – including employees of the Cook County Health & Hospital System and the Cook County Forest Preserve District – will be required to undergo ethics training on an annual basis. This training must take place within 90 days. Additionally, training must be renewed annually. Previously, mandated training was repeated only every four years.
“It is essential that Cook County employees meet the highest ethical standards. Every employee will understand the responsibilities placed upon them when they work for the people of Cook County and the Office of the Cook County Board President. We’re building a culture of transparency, openness and accountability and this is an important step in that process,” Preckwinkle said.
All employees in the President’s office, including the President, underwent training during her first full week in office.
The executive order was drafted with assistance from Marynic Foster, the Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Ethics. Foster said the President’s new ethics initiatives promote a wider understanding of the Cook County Code of Ethical Conduct to which officials and employees of Cook County must adhere.
“Requiring annual training for all employees, not just those senior level employees mandated to undergo training every four years, is a huge and necessary step in the right direction,” Foster said.
“Increasing awareness of the Code of Ethical Conduct among all Cook County employees will serve to improve the standards of Cook County public service and will strengthen the confidence of the people of Cook Count in the integrity and the fair and honest administration of their Cook County government.”
The Cook County Board of Ethics is responsible for enforcing the Cook County Ethics Ordinance, which sets forth directives to ensure honest government.
The order changes the current policy in two key ways. First, as mentioned above, every employee under the Office of the President must complete annual training courses conducted by the Cook County Department of Ethics. These training sessions can be completed online.
Second, all new hires under the Office of the President currently exempt from mandatory ethics training will be required to complete ethics training.