Palm Beach County tries to shake corruption image with online ethics quiz

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Scandal-plagued Palm Beach County's latest bid to remake its "Corruption County" image includes an online ethics quiz that tests people's ability to avoid wrongdoing.

The 15-question quiz can be found at palmbeachcountyethics.com/ethics_quiz.htm.

Those who correctly answer all 15 questions can print a certificate attesting to their ethical prowess.

Only a 100 percent is considered a passing grade, and that's a standard several Palm Beach County officials fell well short of in recent years.

Scandals starting in 2006 have prompted four Palm Beach County commissioners to resign and plead guilty to criminal charges related to misuse of office.

That string of scandals led to reform measures that include tougher new ethics rules for local government.

The online quiz is another way to spread the word about the new ethics rules.

"For there to be an effective ethics program, there has to be public involvement," said Alan Johnson, executive director of the county's new Ethics Commission. "Perceptions and attitudes take time."

The quiz lays out 15 scenarios of potential ethics conflicts and asks multiple choice questions about whether county rules apply.

The Ethics Commission plans to periodically update the questions to keep the quiz fresh for those who keep coming back to try to get their certificate.

"People are having questions about these issues," Johnson said. "[The quiz] is a training tool; a teaching tool."

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