The Whitewater, WI Conflict of Interest Gallery™

Ours is an era of conflicts of interest and self-dealing. Conflicts of interest sometimes begin with ignorance but they persist through arrogance. Simple principles of separation between roles that were once understood and respected (in the main) are now commonly rationalized away. If one bemoans degraded national ethics, one should be clear that local officials and private parties paved the way for ethical lapses through their own lesser standards.

And so, and so — a gallery of conflicts and ethical lapses, to be updated so often as necessary. One can – and should – match each lapse with a reply.

Latest Submission: School Board Member Reports for Local Newspaper on His Own District’s Meetings (online 9.6.19, in print 9.9.19).

Whitewater Unified School District board member Tom Ganser writes as a ‘correspondent’ for Daily Union editor Chris Spangler in a story entitled Whitewater School District Holds Annual Data Retreat. He is nowhere in the story identified as a school board member. That’s the editor’s lapse of journalistic standards. The board member has an official duty of oversight on a public body, but reports on those over whom he has oversight. That’s his lapse into a conflict of interest between roles as an impartial overseer and a mere press agent.

The Whitewater, WI Conflict of Interest Gallery™

In fairness, this conflict-laden approach has beset Whitewater for years. A truly proper gallery of this sort would require an entire wing dedicated to the work of longtime Whitewater councilmember and current school board member Jim Stewart, who so often published accounts of the very meetings and government initiatives of which he was a part. I’ve a fair number of saved examples, but perhaps the current owners of Stewart’s archive will place the full oeuvre de l’artiste online.

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