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La Joya City Council, employees undergo ethical training

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Both elected officials and employees of the city of La Joya are taking part in a required, 8-hour training on ethics. It comes after their city council moved to adopt a code of ethics in December of last year.

The idea came from interim city manager Leo Olivares, who cited a pattern of corruption in local government from neighboring areas, as well as their own city hall.

“It wasn’t just one instance of public corruption in La Joya, there were several,” Olivares said. “So we’ve put that behind us — but we want to do better — and start building that trust again.”

Although city governments generally offer ethical requirements in their city charter, Olivares said he believes their code is different because it requires training of all personnel, including elected and appointed officials — eight hours, as well as city volunteers — two hours. Additionally, elected officials who don’t complete the training have to pay a $75 penalty.

“It gives some sense of, everybody’s doing the right thing,” said La Joya Police Chief Ramon Gonzalez. “This is the first step — having the ethics training that leads us in the right direction. In the past, it hasn’t been done, but I’m glad Mr. Olivares has taken steps forward to making the city better and also the mayor and the city council.”

Olivares, who noted La Joya still has room to grow both literally and figuratively, hopes that this push is something that can bring development into the area and effectively ‘transform the community.’

While the timing of these ethical training “classes” ironically comes at a time when many are celebrating spring break, Olivares recognizes that the measure is important for re-gaining the public’s trust.

This is a big step forward, I think this will help a lot, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” he said. “No one should ever think that this is ‘the’ solution, because the minute people don’t pay attention, they don’t listen to the news and the employees and appointed officials — that they’re not doing their jobs — you’re going to start to have those problems (again).” 

Members of the city are required to complete the training by the end of the month.

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