Sutherland Newsletter – November 20, 2008

1.Another Outstanding Session with Dr. Quinn McKay – as Participants Wrestle with the Challenges of Integrity in Public Service

On Wednesday, December 3, Sutherland again hosted Dr. Quinn McKay as he led a stimulating, thought-provoking exploration of the topic, “Wrestling with the Challenges of Integrity in Public Service.”  Facilitating dialogue in this fifth season of the Institute’s Transcend Series program, Dr. McKay focused on fundamentals and practical applications addressed in his most recent book,The Bottom Line on Integrity – Twelve Principles for Higher Returns.

Among the concepts discussed were Incremental Morality, Moral Ethics vs. Gaming Ethics, and Principles in Conflict.  As a foundation, Dr. McKay emphasized the importance of establishing a definition of integrity, citing the best description of honesty he knows – a statement by Robert Louis Stephenson: “To tell the truth is not just to state the facts, but to convey a true impression.”

Among those participating in the session were elected municipal officials, community leaders, and members of the Utah Legislature, including Representative Steve Mascaro, and Representatives-elect Trisha Beck, Becky Edwards, Marie Poulson, and Jay Seegmiller.

Drawing on his extensive experience as a consultant to Fortune 100
companies and federal government agencies, university educator, and
author of three books on the subjects of integrity and ethics, Dr.
McKay emphasized that integrity requires skills.  Participants learned
about many of those skills and how to make use of them as they serve in
their respective roles.

 

2.Authentic Charity Care Proposed to Health System Reform Task Force

Sutherland Institute President Paul T. Mero testified before the Health System Reform Task Force on Tuesday, December 16, encouraging state legislators to create a coordinated, private-sector approach to basic health care for Utah’s neighbors in need.

Referring to Caring for Our Neighbors in Need and Strengthening Community in Utah, a policy brief distributed to the Task Force prior to his testimony, Mero said, “Our goal is to reverse the ever-growing burden on taxpayers from Medicaid and other state government-driven programs.  In addition, as the best alternative to reversing this trend, we need to promote private-sector solutions to our health care needs, and to build community in the process.”

Mero said there are many Utah citizens who are going the extra mile to help their neighbors in need, but those needs are much greater than heroic efforts to date can satisfy.  Explaining that authentic charity care requires a private-sector approach, he reminded lawmakers that the more government gets involved with something, the less the private sector has an opportunity to play a role.

Sutherland’s proposal for authentic charity care includes two main keys.  The first key is to understand that there is a complementarity between a culture of charity and a culture of self-reliance.  The second key is that everyone be united in meeting this definition of basic care.  Sutherland’s plan incorporates layers of charity care beginning with a state-wide network of free clinics.  These clinics would be supplemented by associated advanced services, such as regional surgical centers and all of the good work currently being done by Utah’s hospitals and other high-end providers – all working in unison to meet the medical needs of those who cannot afford them.

During his closing remarks, Mero urged members of the Task Force to include authentic charity care as part of their comprehensive plan.

“You must trust that the private sector will respond,” he said.  “I have great confidence in that, especially in this state.  People will be helped, taxpayers will be less burdened, and we will build a real and lasting community in the process.”

 

3.Sutherland Institute Issues Ethics Reform Policy Recommendations

In light of recent events that have underscored the need for ethics reform and a renewal of public trust, the Sutherland Institute today released Politics or Polity? Ethics Reform for Utah, a set of policy recommendations for Utah lawmakers to consider as they prepare for the general legislative session in January.

“The Sutherland Institute is pleased to offer recommendations for a new ethics reform package,” said Paul T. Mero, president of the Institute.  “We urge the State Legislature to make this issue its highest priority for the 2009 legislative session.”

“Real ethics reform can be accomplished only by honest legislators who seek to establish laws and regulations that promote good governance and full accountability in government at all levels.  Perhaps we will see the 2009 State Legislature act swiftly to restore public confidence,” the policy document states.

The Sutherland Institute’s recommendations for ethics reform rest on two pillars of polity: first, preserve personal accountability for every state legislator; and second, establish a clear basis for the public to respect the integrity of the Legislature as an institution.

Effectively, Sutherland presents seven areas to be considered for reform and implementation.  Among the recommendations:

  • Create a new Joint Committee on Standards and Official Conduct
  • Create the Office of Advice and Education within the Joint Committee
  • Permit recusal on votes that constitute a conflict of interest
  • Impose a comprehensive ban on gifts, with reasonable exceptions involving meals and  attendance at charitable or education events
  • Narrowly restrict the use of campaign contributions