Public Trust Review: New Show Focused on Ethics and Santa Clara

By Robert Haugh

Recently, a new video blog called the Public Trust Review (PTR) has started airing on Facebook and YouTube.

It’s moderated by Kirk Vartan and features ethicist Dr. Tom Shanks.

Vartan is a Santa Clara business owner and founder of the award-winning A Slice of New York Pizza.

Shanks is the former Executive Director of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and a former Jesuit priest.

Shanks set up the City’s award-winning ethics programs years ago. (That’s almost as impressive as award-winning pizza).

Shanks’s new project is Ethics for America which includes a case study of Santa Clara and the 49ers.

The PTR is a 15-minute program that airs live on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. on Kirk’s facebook page.  There’s also a YouTube channel

Santa Clara News Online has been hearing good things about it and watched the latest episode.

Vartan does a good job and isn’t advocating for anyone on the show. Shanks is really educational and knows his stuff.

The episodes are brief and they seem to move quickly through issues, so they’re not boring.

Here’s a screenshot of them talking about a paragraph in the Civil Grand Jury. 

Shanks made the case that even though it wasn’t highlighted in the report, it may be one of the most important issues to investigate.  

If found guilty of misdemeanors, some Councilmembers could be removed from office, according to the City Charter. Wow.

In another segment, Vartan leads Shanks through a discussion of ethics principles that’s interesting. And something the City Council needs to learn.

Shanks also discusses Police Chief Pat Nikolai’s letter to the Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

“It’s an incredible letter,” said Shanks. “It’s a great letter. It lays out the legal areas that are a problem for this Council.”

If you’ve watched the show, leave a comment about your thoughts.


  1. “Santa Clara News Online has been hearing good things about it and watched the latest episode.”

    As of this comment, Santa Clara News Online is 1 of 2 people who watched the latest episode. SCNO just e-high fived the only other person to watch it. In the past two days PTR channel has posted six video with an average of 1.33 views among them. But hey, even T-Series (YouTube’s most viewed channel) with more than 204,334,266,347 views at one time had an average of 1.33. Vartan is off to a hot start!

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