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The Politics of Public Integrity and Ethics in Office

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 4/3/2014, midnight

This is not the first time this column has discussed public integrity and ethics in elective office in California, and it probably won’t be the last. But, gosh, another California State Senator indicted on federal charges of corruption, fraud, and even gun-running? And another democrat, too? Is it raining California political crooks now? Water, we certainly do need, but this is more like hot, moldy lard streaming greasily down onto our heads. Is this one of the pitfalls of living in the California paradise? You can’t trust the folks who take an oath to promote your best interests?

So, recently State Senator Leland Yee joined the small band of pirates masquerading as California public servants, or at least he was accused of such by an FBI infiltrator and may yet be proven innocent at trial. The other two bands of bawdy brothers include State Senators Rod Wright and Ron Calderon, both of whom are now on a “permanent,” but paid leave of absence (suspension) from that law-making body.

And just when you think all the news that’s bad in that regard is in, here comes more. The peripatetic and skilled political educator Genethia Hudley-Hayes—now running for the L.A. Unified’s District 1 seat to replace the departed Marguerite Lamotte—is shown to have lied on her resume for the office. She noted a 1976 MBA in non-profit organizational management from San Jose State and the Joint Center for Non-Profit Management, even though the joint school records do not verify that she ever attended, and such a program did not even exist until 1979. Additionally, her papers cite an earned doctorate’s degree in 2000, “specializing in public policy.” She even reportedly ordered Compton College employees to call her Dr. Hudley-Hayes when she worked at the college as the state-appointed administrator a few years ago. She has no such degree. At best, she may have received an honorary doctorate from an institution not certified to graduate students with doctorates, but there is no record of her having attended the school, taken classes and written an approved doctorate dissertation. Why, one wonders, would one do that?

It’s called a lack of public integrity and a belief that one is above the law when one is in the political spotlight.

There is no use merely crying and complaining about this hopefully small trend. We must at least propose a way to correct it before it really gets out of hand. Real politics is about the doing, not the venting and hand-wringing.

There are four current and major Public Policy Institutes in California that study, write policy briefs, and have regular conferences on California political affairs. These are the Tomas Rivera Public Policy Institute at USC, the Pat Brown Institute at California State University, L.A., the California Institute of Public Affairs (now called the InterEnvironment Institute) at Claremont Graduate School, and the Leon Panetta Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. They all do very good work. However, none of the four spends much, if any, time on training future public servants to accept the public trust and integrity that are requirements for elected public service.