Bernard C. "Jack" Young, president of the Baltimore City Council, speaks to the media in Annapolis. Young will take over as ex officio Baltimore mayor as Mayor Catherine Pugh takes a leave of absence.  (Pamela Wood / Baltimore Sun video)

Here's my idea. Before any person is eligible to run for elected office (federal, state or county), or serve as a politically appointed member of a board or commission, she or he must pass an examination regarding basic ethics. Just like a driver's test, the exam may be repeated until the applicant receives a passing score. The questions need not be tough; just enough to make sure such persons understand that public servants should avoid self-dealing or even the appearance of impropriety.

Here's an example: "By election or appointment, you find yourself privileged to hold public office. A person or business who seeks to do (or does) business with the governmental entity which you serve offers you anything of value (such as a gift card or a book publishing deal). You should: A) take the offer, tell no one about it, and apologize if caught; B) take the offer, tell no one about it, and then deny you've done anything wrong if caught; or C) ask for and abide by the advice of a reputable ethics experts.”

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Indeed, think how many current messes we'd avoid if every public servant learned to choose "C" every day she or he held office (“Can Baltimore remove a mayor from office? Without conviction, it’s complicated,” April 2).

Marlene Trestman, Pikesville

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