Public trust is abused too often

Officials at the Ohio Industrial Commission have a strange way of getting the message across to employees about inappropriate behavior.

About six months ago, five OIC hearing officers were disciplined for attending a party arranged by attorneys whose clients have dealings with the commission. The OIC handles Workers’ Compensation disputes involving employers and their employees.

The party included alcoholic beverages, a hot tub and women clad in bikinis, according to a published report.

It takes little imagination to see at least the appearance of a conflict of interest for the hearing officers.

But in May, two of them were promoted and given 5 percent pay raises, one to $99,091 a year and the other to $95,784. One had been disciplined for creating the appearance of impropriety, the other for accepting items of value from an improper source.

An OIC official explained the promotions by citing a union agreement and the two men’s seniority.

No wonder so many government employees abuse the public’s trust – and no wonder that trust is at such a low ebb.