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HOBART — It isn't enough to avoid evil, the Rev. David Link told participants of the 2018 Ethics Summit at Avalon Manor.

"Shock your agency, your firm with morality. Doing good means passionately pursuing your life's purpose. I'm not talking about your vocation, but rather what you do to make living worthwhile," Link said.

About 200 Northwest Indiana government and business leaders attended the eighth annual summit Thursday to hear Link, a member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty since 1970 and its dean from 1975 to 1999.

Among those in attendance were a number of federal and local government officials, including Lake Circuit Court Judge Marissa McDermott, who said she and her husband, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., recall Link's guidance to law students like themselves.

Link served as chairman of the Indiana State Ethics Commission from 1988 to 1990, and wrote the first ethics code for state government employees. He recently became a priest and is now chaplain to inmates of six state prisons in Northwest Indiana.

The summit is held by the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, a volunteer group that has advocated for demanding ethical standards for local government in Northwest Indiana.

It currently provides ethical training for elected officials and employees for the cities of Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hobart, Lake Station, Portage, Valparaiso and Whiting; the towns of Burns Harbor, Cedar Lake, Chesterton, Dyer, Hebron, Highland, Lowell, Merrillville, Munster, Ogden Dunes, Schererville, St. John and Westville; and Lake, LaPorte and Porter counties.

Cal Bellamy, who helped form the volunteer organization in 2005 and served as its president until January, told the audience, "We are just trying to make good people better. We are not born with integrity. Ethics and integrity are learned experiences and a lifelong endeavor. We want government employees to apply ethical standards to what their real life environment is."

He said they will ask the 380 candidates in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties to sign the Shared Ethics pledge to make formal ethics training available for all local government employees, support policies promoting ethics in government and protect employees from any retribution for reporting ethical violations.

Bellamy introduced Dan Klein as the new Shared Ethics president and Courtney Smith as vice president. Bellamy remains as a member of the commission. Klein said local government has to be more accountable to the public.

Klein said the commission is purchasing a tree to be planted in Munster's Centennial Park with a plaque commemorating Bellamy's 11 years of service with the commission.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.