I was going to make a crack in the title of this post about foxes and hen-houses, but Judge Farmer beat me to it. Farmer is a long time superior court judge and former state legislator who was appointed by Governor Easley to head his ethics boar. He has some ideas about ethics reforms in the state, and Easley thinks they're good ones.
One of them is that there should be a single ethics board to oversee all branches of NC government (except judges, covered by another board). NC legislators: "But why, when we're doing such a great job of policing ourselves?"
Ok, that's not an actual quote. But this is: "We need to have an ethics committee of our members, who take this issue seriously, who can talk about ethics, who can train us in ethics, who serve with us." The thing about that quote that's interesting to me is that it was spoken by Deborah Ross, a Wake County Representative who has been focused on ethics reform ever since she first came to the House. Either (benefit of the doubt option) she really feels that there's some value to peer oversight that outweighs the notoriously slow pace and limited scope of legislative ethics reform, or (cynical option) she doesn't want to lose her issue. I'd like to think it's the first option, but I'll need some extra 'splainin to understand that point of view.
Members of the House are working through 10 major pieces of ethics legislation. They voted 114-3 yesterday in favor of the second piece, dealing with legislative ethics, but not before adding an amendment that would allow them to accept some gifts up to $1,000 in value without reporting them.