Board of Ethics
January 24, 2002
DENVER BOARD OF ETHICS
MEETING OF JANUARY 24, 2002
Chair Harry MacLean called the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m. Harry MacLean, Marcelina Rivera, Christopher Weimer, Carolyn Lievers and Charles Savage were present.
It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously to accept the minutes of the December 20 and December 27, 2001 meeting as drafted.
PRESENTATION BY AUDITOR
City Auditor Donald Mares, at the Board’s invitation, discussed several matters with the Board. He believes that some of the principal powers of the Office of Auditor is to review and approve all contracts of the City and to authorize or not authorize all City payment requests. He indicated that the office has developed an audit plan for an internal audit for every City agency at least every five years to help each agency run better; however, he stressed that the Auditor’s office cannot require that the agencies must implement internal audit recommendations.
Auditor Mares told the Board that he has directed all of the employees of the Auditor’s office not to accept any gifts over $25 in value or any meals or any tickets from anyone doing business with the City, regardless of whether a specific employee is or is not able to “take direct official action’ with regard to the donor. He indicated that he believes this policy has the advantage of avoiding the necessity to itemize and disclose gifts, meals, etc.
He indicated that he also believes that it is important for City officers, and employees to live by the spirit, as a well as the letter, of the Code of Ethics. Auditor Mares also encouraged the Board to consider that there is a need for better “whistle-blower protection” for City employees considering the filing of an inquiry (complaint) with the Board of Ethics.
ETHICS TRAINING AND ETHICS HANDBOOK
Vice-chair Marcelina Rivera and Staff Director Michael Henry said that they were very pleased with the 2002 Ethics Handbook and the 8-hour ethics training for top-level managers. The first 1000 handbooks have been printed and 65 top-level leaders have received the training. (after the final training session on February 1, approximately 110 top leaders will have received the training.) Training consultant June Twinam, Career Service Authority Training Director Jim Nimmer, Board member Christopher Weimer and observer Roy Wood, Ph.D. and Spoma Jovanovic, Ph.D. all commented on the high quality of the content and the presentation of the training.
The next steps will be the distribution of the handbooks to all city employees in February 20002 and the delivery of mid-level management ethics training in March and April, 2002.
CHAIR’S REMARKS/RESOLUTION OF APPRECIATION FOR MARCELINA RIVERA
Chair Harry MacLean expressed regrets on behalf of the Board at the resignation of Vice-chair Marcelina Rivera, effective at the end of today’s meeting. He and all of the Board members voted to pass a resolution of appreciation for her very fine work in overseeing the development of the 2002 Ethics Handbook and the ethics training program and for her thoughtful participation in all other Board activities.
He indicated that he and Michael Henry were preparing the Board’s annual report, due February 15, 2002 and that draft copies will be mailed to the other Board members for their comments.
REQUEST FOR CITY ATTORNEY’S OPINION
The Board asked Staff Director Michael Henry to request a City Attorney’s opinion regarding whether the employees and board members of the following agencies are subject to the Code of Ethics: Denver Housing Authority, Denver Urban Renewal Authority, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Public Library.
Staff Director Michael Henry presented a report on the status of expenditures for the 2001 and 2002 budgets. The Board indicated that it wanted to have monthly reports on expenditures that had become obligated, as well as those which have been actually expended.
The Board approved Michael Henry’s proposal for a budget reduction plan in response to the Mayor’s requirement that every agency propose a detailed 2002 budget reduction of at least 1%.
The Board members discussed several possible recommendations to City Council and the Mayor for changes to the Code of Ethics to be included in the February 15, 2002 annual report. The Board agreed that the following recommendations were ready to present now:
(1) Add to Section 2-52 (b) – definition of “direct official action” – 6) approving, disapproving or recommending for or against a rezoning or a zoning variance for land.
(2) Addition of “to solicit” to the phrase “to accept” in Section 2-60 (a) regarding gifts.
(3) Strike the following sentence from Section 2-55 of the Code of Ethics: “The city clerk shall