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We're glad to see the Porter County commissioners vote to join the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission. That's just one step toward participating, however. We urge Porter County to complete the other steps.

Lake County took that same initial step but didn't follow through, after getting bad advice from its attorneys that signing up is ill-advised.

Local government in Northwest Indiana needs more attention to ethics, not less.

"I think government functions better when people have some faith in it," Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney said.

She feels so strongly about this that she convinced her fellow commissioners to spend $5,000 to join the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission the week after the annual ethics breakfast in Hobart.

The annual membership fee drops to $3,000 after the first year. Larger units of local government pay more because they have more employees to train.

In joining the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, Porter County will need to appoint representatives to the commission and to the Joint Board of Delegates, adopt the shared code of ethics, adopt the interlocal agreement, designate a handful of employees to be trained as ethics trainers, and commit to training all employees.

The county also should commit to offering training for all elected officials and appointees.

The need for this training should be clear.

All anyone needs to know to understand the value of participating in this training process, and putting a sharp focus on ethics, is to look at the frequent FBI visits to the Porter County Administration Building and the high number of public corruption prosecutions in Northwest Indiana in the past few decades.

Porter County has some work to do to continue the path toward membership. Don't stumble.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.