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As a planning commissioner you are part of your community's political world. As such, it should come as little surprise that you may be subject to pressures to show your political allegiances. Let me present a "hypothetical" situation:
The Mayor, who perceives you as a friend and an ally, repeatedly calls you about issues appearing before the Planning Commission in an effort to influence your opinion and be sure that you understand the "Mayor's perspective."
You were appointed to the planning commission because of your strong relationship with the Mayor. You had worked with the Mayor on a variety of community issues over the years and developed a sense of mutual trust and friendship. When a vacancy arose on the Planning Commission, the Mayor asked if you would be interested. You agreed and were subsequently appointed by the City Council.
Now that you are on the Planning Commission, you find yourself in an awkward position. The Mayor, who perceives you as a friend and an ally, repeatedly calls you about issues appearing before the Planning Commission in an effort to influence your opinion and be sure that you understand the "Mayor's perspective." This seems natural to you since you are political allies, but you have the vague sense that there is something improper about these conversations. Is there an ethical issue? How should you respond to the Mayor? ...
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C. Gregory Dale, FAICP, is a founding Principal with McBride Dale Clarion, the Cincinnati affiliate office of Clarion Associates. He has managed planning projects throughout the country, and is also a frequent speaker at planning and zoning workshops and conferences.
Between 1991 and 2009, Dale authored 31 articles for the Planning Commissioners Journal, including 21 for our Ethics & the Planning Commission series, and others on a variety of transportation and zoning topics. Dale is also a co-author of The Planning Commissioners Guide (American Planning Association, 2013).