Board of Ethics
August 17, 2001
DENVER BOARD OF ETHICS
MEETING OF AUGUST 17, 2001
The meeting was called to order at 1:35 pm by Chair Harry MacLean in the City Council conference room. Present were Board members Harry MacLean, Marcelina Rivera, Charles Savage and Christopher Weimer. Board member Carolyn Lievers was absent and excused.
Several guests were introduced.
It was moved, seconded and passed to approve the minutes of the July 20, 2001 Board of Ethics meeting as submitted.
Interim Director Michael Henry presented his written report, which will be attached to the official copy of these minutes.
Chair Harry MacLean announced the following:
1) Notice will soon be distributed, courtesy of the Auditor’s office, notifying all Denver employees, officers and officials of the policy adopted by the Board of Ethics on July 20, 2001 regarding the proper forum for advice and interpretation of the Ethics Code. He expressed appreciation to the Auditor’s office.
2) He and Interim Director Michael Henry are working on a draft of the Board’s first quarterly report to be submitted to the Mayor, the City Council, city agencies and the public. Other Board members will have the opportunity to comment before the report is finalized.
3) He and Michael Henry have had negotiations with the Budget Office which appear to indicate that the Board of Ethics will have a separate budget, probably listed under the City Clerk’s budget, for the year 2002 and that a supplemental appropriation will probably be requested through the Budget Office for the period between October 16, 2001 and December 31, 2001.
4) On August 1, the City Council Finance Committee recommended approval of the supplemental appropriation request of $125, 000 for a consultant and for printing for the ethics training program and also for printing of ethics handbook. City Council approved the appropriation on first reading on August 13 and is expected to give final approval on August 20.
5) He and Marcelina Rivera and Michael Henry are working on an outline and a first draft of the ethics handbook.
John Bennett, staff director of the City Council, was invited to give his perspective of the legislative intent for the new Code of Ethics as a result of having observed the 18 months of drafting and committee hearings before final passage of the new Code of Ethics on January 29, 2001. Some of the major points of the discussion were:
1) Many Council members had a concern about the reference to “appearance of impropriety” in the Code’s Legislative Intent section and did not wish to have any penalties imposed for an appearance of impropriety.
2) The Council wanted, in the exception to the Gifts section, to indicate what is allowed as well as what is not allowed.
3) The Council made a conscious decision that it did not want the Board of Ethics, at least until future notice, to interpret the Charter provisions relating to conflicts of interest.
4) The City Council does want to hear from the Board of Ethics if any problems arise in interpreting or implementing the Code of Ethics.
5) The City Council intended for the Code of Ethics to apply to employees, officials and officers of all City departments and agencies including “independent agencies”, except for perhaps the Water Board.
6) The City Council intended for the role of the City Attorney’s office with regard to hearings on citizen inquiries to be as a consultant rather than as a prosecutor.
7) A key element, which many find difficult to understand, is that a finding of “direct official action” is a necessary trigger for the gift and conflict of interest provisions of the Code of Ethics.
8) The Board does not have the authority to discipline or terminate an employee or to void a City contract, because the Charter would need to be changed to provide such remedies.
9) If a City employee, officer or official has resigned from the City, it would be possible for the Board of Ethics to conduct a hearing to elicit facts concerning a citizen inquiry; however, the Board has no remedial or corrective power.
10) Regarding the Gifts section of its Code of Ethics, both the triggers of 1) direct official action and 2) existing or pending contract, business or regulatory relationship with the donor must apply.
11) It was contemplated by the Council that the Board of Ethics may issue definitions or guidelines, even though the Code of Ethics does not give rule-making authority to the Board. An example of an appropriate term that the Board may wish to define is “nominal” in Section 2-61(a)(6) of the Code of Ethics.
Dante James, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Compliance, described his office’s functions in response to the Board’s desire to become familiar with the workings of various City agencies. The MOCC has 21 employees and primarily certifies and monitors those contractors or potential contractors with the City that are “disadvantaged business enterprises” (if federal government dollars are involved) or “small business enterprises” (if no federal dollars are involved).
June Twinam, who will be the project manager for the consultant contract for ethics training between the Career Service Authority and Twinam and Associates updated the Board on the plans for the services to be provided. She indicated that she and her colleagues will be preparing the curriculum, delivering the training to the upper-level city personnel, preparing a facilitators’ manual, training the City-employed trainers and will be co-training a few sessions with the City-employed trainers. She indicated that the materials prepared will be jointly owned by the City and Twinam and Associates. She said that she will work with the Board of Ethics’ Handbook Committee to assure that the training materials and the handbook are not in conflict.
Marcelina Rivera moved and Charles Savage seconded that the Board go into executive session in order to deliberate on one request for an advisory opinion and to make screening decisions on two citizen inquiries and to have attorney-client communication with the Board’s attorney.
EXECUTIVE SESSION – DELIBERATION ON CASES
Case 01-19 - advisory opinion issued
Case 01-20 - citizen inquiry dismissed at the screening level for lack of jurisdiction
Case 01-21 - citizen inquiry dismissed at the screening level because, even if the alleged conduct were true, it would not violate the Code of Ethics.
The meeting adjourned at 5:03 pm.
L. Michael Henry
Approved by Board of Ethics, September 28, 2001.