Board of Ethics
July 20, 2001
DENVER BOARD OF ETHICS
MEETING OF JULY 20, 2001
The meeting was called to order at 1:35 pm by chair Harry MacLean in the City Council Conference Room. Present was Board members Harry MacLean, Carolyn Lievers, Marcelina Rivera and Christopher Weimer. Board member Charles Savage was absent and excused.
Several guests were introduced.
It was moved, seconded and passed to approve the minutes of the June 15, 2001 meeting as submitted.
Interim Director Michael Henry presented his written monthly report, which will be attached to the official copy of these minutes.
Harry MacLean nominated and Christopher Weimer seconded Marcelina Rivera as vice-chair of the Board of Ethics. All members present voted in favor of the motion.
Chair Harry MacLean indicated that he wishes to have presentations each month by different agencies regarding those agencies or other aspects of City government.
Marcia Cunningham of Career Service Authority gave a Power-Point presentation regarding the history of Denver City government and its organization and checks and balances.
Chair Harry MacLean indicated that he would prepare a written request for a legal opinion to clarify whether or not employees of independent agencies or authorities are subject to the Code of Ethics.
Vice-chair Marcelina Rivera moved and Christopher Weimer seconded to adopt the proposed Policy Memorandum Regarding Proper Forum for Advice and Interpretation of Ethics Code. Following discussion, all members present voted in favor of the motion. The Board directed that the policy memorandum should be placed on the Board of Ethics website and sent to agency heads. The Board also expressed its desire to request the Auditor’s Office to distribute a letter explaining the policy with the paychecks of City employees, officers, and officials.
Assistant City Attorney Stan Sharoff discussed with the Board the provisions of House Bill 1359 of 2001, which amended the provisions of the Colorado Open Records Act and Open Meetings Act regarding executive sessions. In essence, the new law requires that:
1) a local public body must record discussions during an executive session “in the same manner and media” used to record open sessions
2) before going into executive session, a local public body must include in the announcement of the executive session the specific citation authorizing the executive session and the identification of the topic to be discussed in as much detail as possible without compromising the executive session’s purpose.
3) the record of the executive discussion must reflect the citation authorizing the executive session, the contents of the discussion and a signed statement from the claim of the meeting to confirm that the record reflects the substance of the discussion.
Mr. Sharoff indicated that the City Attorney’s office does not yet have an opinion as to whether the Colorado Open Meetings law supercedes Denver’s Open Meetings ordinance. He indicated that an opinion shall be finalized on or before August 8, 2001, which is the effective date of House Bill 1359. Stan Sharoff then discussed the issue of whether the Colorado Open Records Act would or would not protect the confidentiality of requests for advisory opinions. After extensive discussion, without any definitive conclusion, the Board determined that City employees who contact the Board of Ethics office should be advised that it is possible that, under the Open Records Act, a request for an advisory opinion and the advisory opinion may have to be made available to the public.
Marcelina Rivera updated the Board on the status of a contract with a consultant to develop an ethics training program for City employees. The Finance Committee of City Council is scheduled to review a request for a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $125,000 on August 1.
Harry MacLean indicated that he had had discussion with Interim Director Michael Henry (whose contract will be extended until October 15, 2001 for 30 hours per week) regarding the priority of tasks for the Interim Director. The major priorities will be: 1) staffing the board functions – regarding meetings, citizen inquiries, requests for advisory opinion, telephone calls or e-mail from employees or citizens, etc; 2) helping the Board to institutionalize its budget office and staff; 3) helping the Board to prepare an ethics handbook, and 4) helping the Board and the consultant and Career Service and the City agencies to implement the training program.
Michael Henry mentioned that foundation funding might be able to assist in the ethics training; however, the next deadline for submitting an application would be in October, 2001. The Denver Foundation has indicated that its maximum grant amount would be $15,000. Two other foundations may be interested in making grants for ethics training. The Board requested Michael Henry to work with the Finance Office’s grants person to determine the amount of help that could be obtained from the Finance Office and its report to the Board at its August 17 meeting.
The Board then had a general discussion of its budget/staffing office situation. Interim Director Michael Henry advised the Board that the Board office would be moving approximately August 1 to the 6th floor of 1675 Broadway, within the City Attorney’s Contract Section’s space. He indicated that the Denver Asset Management office is analyzing space at the City Clerk’s office (City and County Building, # 281) to set up and equip an office for the Board of Ethics beginning in October 2001. After a period of one or two years there, the Board of Ethics apparently has three options (not entirely within the control of the Board of Ethics): 1) space within the under-construction Civic Center Office Building, planned to open in late 2002; 2) space in 303 West Colfax, where the City Clerk will eventually be moving after that building is completely renovated, probably in 2004, or 3) some other space. Michael Henry indicated that the City’s goal is to consolidate most City office space into City owned buildings, as opposed to leased space. After discussion, the Board determined that its most important long-term priority was to have a private soundproof office space that was independent, rather than located within the space of another City agency. The Board requested the Interim Director to prepare a letter to Asset Management to state that priority. The Board indicated that it is not important which City office building will be the location of the permanent Board office space, so long as the standards of sound-proofing and independence are met.
After discussion the Board decided that, following the August 17, 2001 and September 28, 2001 meetings of the Board of Ethics (both on Fridays at 1:30 pm) the regular Board of Ethics meetings will be scheduled for the third Thursdays of each month at 8:30 am (namely, October 18, November 15 and December 20, 2001). The meetings will be in the City Council Conference Room.
The Board then voted to go into executive session to discuss and deliberate upon 2 requests for advisory opinions and also to have a discussion with the City Attorneys protected by attorney-client privilege (Michael Henry advised that Case 01-16, a request for advisory opinion, had been withdrawn by the requesting party.)
EXECUTIVE SESSION – DELIBERATION ON CASES
Case 01-16 - withdrawn
Case 01-17 - advisory opinion issued.
Case 01-18 - advisory opinion issued.
The meeting adjourned at 5:20 pm.
L. Michael Henry