Written by Phil Cerroni
The City Council will discuss adopting an ethics code for the City at an upcoming meeting. The ethics code, which applies to the Council, City staff, board and commission members, and city contractors and consultants, has not been amended since it was adopted in 1994.
The council deferred action on adopting the code and policy at the Aug. 9 Council Meeting.
An ethics committee started work on updating the code in December 2011 and worked on the policy until May. The committee has recommended approval of the policy.
The 29-page policy, up from the city’s current five-page policy, includes specific dos and don’ts, an enforcement section and addresses topics such as gifts, political campaigns and the registration of lobbyists.
The draft adds in language that those under the policy may “not engage in or facilitate any discriminatory or harassing behavior” and also specifies that they may not “persuade or attempt to persuade any employee of the City to leave the employ of the City or to become employed by any person or entity other than the City.”
Other specific additions include prohibiting employees or officials from accepting gifts valued at more than $50. An employee or official cannot accept more than $500 in gifts in a single year, according to the draft.
Also, the draft defines a “prohibited financial interest” in a contract with the City if the employee or official or a member of their immediate family directly or indirectly owns 10 percent or more of the voting stock of the business or 10 percent of the fair market value of the business.
The draft also spells out the process for filing an ethics complaint with the City.
If the Council allows the complaint, a three member Ethics Review Panel will review the case. The panel can dismiss the complaint, send a letter of notification, a letter of admonition, a letter of reprimand or make a referral to ethics training.
An appeal cannot be filed.
The Council will consider approving the policy at their September meeting.