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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More On The "CESSPOOL": Zero Tolerance At Transportation Or Just An "ATTEMPT"?

Zero tolerance at Transportation

One line in Gilbert Newman's resignation letter gives insight into why he lost his job last week.

Newman, the state's chief highway engineer, and Bill Gulick, executive adviser to the Transportation Cabinet's Office of Project Development, resigned after questions arose about conflicts of interest on a road widening next to property that Newman owns in Franklin County.

"I regret any embarrassment this may cause to an administration that is attempting to make the Transportation Cabinet transparent and forthright," Newman wrote.


Newman, a 20-year veteran of the road business in Kentucky, knows that cleaning up the cabinet requires more than waving a wand. It's an attempt, perhaps a valiant one and hopefully one that succeeds, but there's a lot of tradition and culture and money arguing against it.

And that's why he had to leave his job.

It was what Secretary Joe Prather had to do to convince the cabinet's 4,500 employees that he's serious. People will lose their jobs when they do cut ethical corners even if — as Newman and Gulick assert in this case and Prather said he thinks likely — their transgressions were the result of carelessness rather than greed.

"Even the perception of a potential conflict must be avoided, if we are to maintain the trust of the people we serve," Prather said in a statement.

Decades of looking the other way, of slaps on the wrist in the face of sloppy ethics or outright corruption don't go away because a governor or a transportation secretary wishes them gone.

The attempt to clean up this sprawling, money-laden, politically powerful cabinet will only succeed if Prather and his boss, Gov. Steve Beshear, prove they mean business on every project, every day, for everyone.

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