Board of Ethics
July 24, 2003
DENVER BOARD OF ETHICS
MEETING OF JULY 24, 2003
1. Chair Charles Savage called the meeting to order at 1:35 pm. Also present were Carolyn Lievers, Leslie Lawson and Leonard Plank. Christopher Weimer was absent.
2. Steven Bachar, Esq., provided information to the Board regarding Mayor Hickenlooper’s request for an advisory opinion concerning travel and lodging expenses for himself and a small number of his staff for an economic development trip to California in early August. Mr. Bachar said that the Mayor “is looking for guidance.”
3. Karon Hatchett, Executive Director of the Denver Election Commission, presented information to the Board concerning her request for an advisory opinion about the possible acceptance of funds to be raised by a private citizen who serves as an election judge. The purpose of the funds will be to supplement the Election Commission’s budget to pay for the printing of “I Voted” stickers given to voters on election day.
4. Bill Lysaught, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, gave information to the Board and responded to questions concerning his request for an advisory opinion relating to the possible issuance of a MOED loan to a former MOED employee. The former employee was also in attendance and answered questions.
5. The Board then continued its discussion from the June 24, 2003 Board meeting about possible improvements to the Code of Ethics for presentation to City Council for consideration. Statements were made to the Board by Professor Roy Wood of the University of Denver, Pete Maysmith of Colorado Common Cause and Nancy Ulrich of the League of Women Voters of Denver. Professor Wood said he believed that there should be stronger protection against retaliation for city employees who are “whistle-blowers,” such as (1) not giving the name of the “whistle-blower” to the city employee or officer being complained about until after the Board of Ethics has determined that a written response is required and/or (2) requiring that supervisors should not be allowed to retaliate against employees who file inquiries with the Board of Ethics. Professor Wood and Mr. Maysmith recommended that the four-meals-per-calendar-year exception from the gift section of the Code of Ethics should be eliminated. Professor Wood also recommended that Section 2-63 of the Code regarding outside employment should be amended to state that “if there is a potential for a conflict of interest, the Board of Ethics should be consulted.” Ms. Ulrich presented a letter from the League of Women Voters of Denver and said that “gifts to the city” should be in the interest of the public rather than benefiting only a few city employees or elected officials. Assistant City Attorney Stan Sharoff said that the Board of Ethics could develop regulations about how to determine if a gift benefits individuals or the city, instead of making determinations on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Maysmith suggested that the city might establish a “blind trust” to accept gifts. Mr. Maysmith also indicated that “it is not right to say that ethics is less important to the City and County of Denver in difficult economic times.”
6. It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously to approve the minutes of the Board of Ethics meeting of June 24, 2003.
7. Professor Roy Wood of the University of Denver presented to the Board the second installment of a report that he and Professor Spoma Jovanovic of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro prepared, based on their observations and research of the decisions and activities of the Denver Board of Ethics. (The first installment was presented on May 22, 2003.) The report indicates that “the Board of Ethics has evolved into a kind of ethical conscience in Denver.” The report, which will be attached to the official copy of these minutes, provides recommendations for revisions to the Code of Ethics and recommendations for future ethics training of city employees, officers and officials.
8. It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously to go into executive session to deliberate on Cases 03-26, 03-28, 03-29 and 03-30 and to confirm the Board’s earlier screening decision in Case 03-27.
9. The Board adjourned following the conclusion of the executive session at 4:10 pm.
Approved by the Board of Ethics: August 28, 2003