July 13, 2010

The Limits of Disclosure

Is disclosure enough?

Like many families during these tough economic times, Clark County School Board member Deanna Wright has worried about her husband losing his job.

"We're in the same boat as a lot of families," she said.

Unlike many spouses, Wright got to weigh in on her husband's union contract, which gave him a half-percent raise worth about $109 based on his annual salary of $21,902 for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

As a board member, Wright ratified the Clark County School District's contract with the Education Support Employees Association, which represents 11,582 support staff employees, including Wright's husband. Jason Wright is a typist clerk at Coronado High School in Henderson.

While she may have been in technical compliance with the law (which only requires disclosure), the most ethically-sound option would have been to recuse herself entirely.

Let's hope that in the future Ms. Wright will abstain from voting on contracts that would personally benefit her and her family. Doing so is the only way to ensure that people don't use their positions of authority to personally benefit themselves.