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Moonlighting Madness - A free-fall of corporate ethics
Lee Walton

Charleston's Digital Corridor creator can do private consulting on the side This was the July 8th Business Section subtitle in the Palter & Chatter describing an unbelievable deal with a former, now rehired city official. It clearly demonstrates Mayor J. Pericles Riley's profound lack of business ethics and understanding of basic corporate management principles. What a terrible message to send to hundreds of loyal City employees and the Greater Charleston business community. This latest example of yet another questionable business practice by Pericles also highlights his increasing detachment from the realities of corporate management and core business ethics.

Pericles increasingly demonstrates the classical characteristics of a despotic, isolated individual suffering from acute cerebral narcissism (e.g., grandiose, self-important, exaggerates achievements and talents, demands recognition as a intellectual superior, obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, possess unequaled brilliance, firmly convinced that he is unique among men, requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation). His ethical behavior now transcends the requirements of law. His attitude is -- if it's not illegal, it's OK; this flawed logic is wrong, and it sends conflicting ethical signals to all honest, loyal, hardworking private and public sector employees.

In the day-to-day business world, there is a fundamental principle, the Corporate Opportunity Doctrine, which imposes two basic loyalty standards upon the relationship between employee and employer. First, an employee may not enter into a business competition with his employer. An employee with access to proprietary strategy and business plans could make a competitive business harmful to his employer. In effect, the employee could use his position for personal gain at the expense of his employer. Second, the Corporate Opportunity Doctrine imposes an ethical standard that prohibits an employee from taking advantage of a business opportunity based upon insider knowledge that may be in the best interest of his employer; the employee owes his employer the first right to benefit from his skills and knowledge gained at the employer's expense.

In the case of Ernest Andrade's new consulting corporation, Andrade Economics, this blatant moonlighting is not remotely comparable to or justified by a City employee having a second, after hours job or a police officer working as a security guard on his own time. In the relationship between the City of Charleston and Andrade Economics, his "…private consulting on the side" will be in direct conflict with the City's best interest as it seeks to promote its fledgling Digital Corridor as a benefit and enticement to small, high-tech businesses considering the peninsula as a location. Any competing city seeking to use Andrade Economics as start-up consultants for their own version of a wireless "digital corridor" would be doing so in direct competition with the City of Charleston. The citizens of Charleston will be subsidizing the efforts of City employee Andrade's private consulting company with their tax dollars and the flamboyant blessings of the Mayor. Has Pericles finally lost his mind? Can't he comprehend the direct conflict-of-interest and risk to the best economic interest of Charleston created by this sweetheart deal with employee Andrade?

Just what part of employee Andrade's City car, desk, cell phone, copy machine, computer, and administrative staff will be used for "…private consulting on the side"? What part of employee Andrade's City medical insurance, FICA, vacation, paid holidays, sick leave and State Retirement will be reimbursed by Andrade Economics? How much of CFO Bedard's time will be devoted to the financial justification of this little fiasco?

Lastly, why didn't the Palter & Chatter's staff reporter question this obvious breach of corporate ethics? Where was his journalistic obligation to thoroughly investigate and report on this basic violation of corporate business policy? Why the silence when Pericles pushes far beyond the boundary of accepted managerial standards? Is the Palter & Chatter so controlled by Pericles, that its editors must turn blind eyes to such transgressions? Mercy!

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