LANSING (WWJ) – When it comes to helping citizens fight public corruption — Michigan gets a failing grade.
According to a report from Better Government Association, a watchdog group out of Chicago, Michigan ranked 48 out of 50 states in four key areas: holding open meetings for the public, freedom of information for citizens, protecting whistle-blowers, and conflict of interest laws for elected officials.
Better Government’s Emily Miller says Michigan is the worst in the area of conflict of interest.
“Conflict of interest laws are there really to prevent elected officials from working for their own private interests as opposed to the public interest,” Miller told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Chrystal Knight. “You guys don’t have any of that.”
Michigan ranked 35th out of the 50 states when it comes to whistle-blower protection.
“Our overview is that there was a decent process for protection, but the law doesn’t cover all state employees and has a week appeals process,” said BGA Director of Programs and Operations, Bob Reed.
Reed said, clearly, some changes need to be made. “We’d love to hear what they[Michigan lawmakers] have to say about it. We think that it;s important that we have this dialogue and that we talk about it, and then start doing things to make things better,” he said.
This report comes as a federal corruption investigation continues into Wayne County government, where several high-ranking staffers have already been indicted.
Meantime, Detroit has filed for bankruptcy following years of mismanagement by elected leaders. The city’s former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, remains behind bars as he awaits sentencing for racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.
To get a detailed look at the BGA report, visit this link.