Board of Ethics
June 15, 2001
DENVER BOARD OF ETHICS
MEETING OF JUNE 15, 2001
The meeting was called to order at 1:40 pm in the City Council Conference Room. Present were Board members Harry MacLean, Carolyn Lievers, Charles Savage and Christopher Weimer. Board member Marcelina Rivera was absent and excused.
The Board approved the minutes of the May 17, 2001 meeting.
Interim Director Michael Henry expanded on his written report, a copy of which will be attached to the official copy of the minutes of this meeting.
ELECTION OF CHAIR
Charles Savage and Christopher Weimer nominated and seconded Harry MacLean as chair of the Board of Ethics. Harry MacLean indicated that he would be pleased to accept, but only for a one-year term. The Board unanimously voted to elect Harry MacLean as chair.
DISCUSSION OF PROCESS FOR FILING REQUESTS FOR ADVISORY OPINIONS
Captain John Lamb of the Denver Police Department presented Chief Whitman’s request that all requests for advisory opinions and all citizen inquiries relating to Police Department employees should be sent through one location in the Police Department (in the case of requests for advisory opinions) and copies should be sent to one location (in the case of citizen inquiries.)
Major Victoria Connors of the Denver Sheriff’s Department indicated that all agencies and employees would benefit from having clarity about these issues.
Harry MacLean circulated to the Board a draft of a memorandum of understanding which he and Michael Henry had discussed with Deputy City Attorney Helen Raabe regarding the path that City employees should follow in order to file a request for an advisory opinion and stated his belief that it is important for City employees to feel free to speak to their supervisors and /or the City Attorney’s office about issues relating to the Code of Ethics or to submit a request for an advisory opinion directly to the Board without such consultation.
Charles Savage stated that it is important to respect the City Council’s intent to protect the anonymity of City employees requesting advisory opinions, which would not be accomplished if City employees were required to submit a request for an advisory opinion through a supervisor or the City Attorney’s office. Harry MacLean indicated that it is important that City employees feel that the Board of Ethics and its processes are open and accessible.
Charles Savage said that he felt that a Board policy would be more appropriate than a memorandum of understanding. The consensus of the Board was that a Board policy will be finalized soon, in consultation with Helen Raabe, and will be circulated city departments.
DISCUSSION OF ETHICS TRAINING
Harry MacLean stated that the training/education is a very critical part of the Code of Ethics and should be the “apex of the Board’s consideration.” He recommended setting up a task force for education and training and indicated that Marcelina Rivera has agreed to serve as the Board’s representative. He indicated that the training/education process needs to be a team effort, involving the Board, the Career Service Authority, the City Attorney’s office and other departments.
Helen Raabe said that the use of a short-term consultant for ethics training “makes great sense to create a paradigm shift so that ethics can be openly discussed among City employees, officers and officials in a way that they feel ownership of the Code of Ethics.” She indicated that the consultants that have submitted proposals all have good experience in ethics training which is a fast-developing field and that several of the consultants have already developed technological tools, which the City does not yet have. She recommends a one-year contract for a consultant to work jointly with the Career Service Authority training division and the joint task force, before turning over the process to CSA.
Jim Nimmer, training director for CSA, indicated that CSA has three full-time trainers that deal with several cross-agency training programs and there are approximately 22 City employees in various other agencies who are job-titled as trainers plus a number of others who have training as their partial responsibilities. He estimated that approximately 60% of City employees have access to desktop computers.
Charles Savage said that it is his hope eventually to have a “desktop ethics education system”.
Michael Henry reported that requests for qualifications regarding ethics training for City employees were sent in late May to eleven Colorado organizations and that five written responses were received by the deadline of June 13 (Some of the responses were team submissions from a total of eight of the eleven RFQ recipients.)
DISCUSSION OF SECONDARY EMPLOYMENT IN POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS
At the request of the Board of Ethics, Police Captain John Lamb, Fire Division Chief Jim Sestrich and Division Fire Chief Joe Gonzales were present to discuss the general standards used by the two departments to review and approve or disapprove requests for secondary (outside) employment. Captain Lamb indicated that the Police Department regulates all requests for secondary employment, even for one-day events. An officer may not be employed for a total of more than 64 hours per week (including secondary employment). In addition, officers may not work at certain prohibited locations, such as “adult” entertainment locations or designated public nuisances or for establishment owners that have a “troublesome” history. If employed as an off-duty security officer, an officer may only enforce the law and is not allowed to enforce “house rules”, such as dress codes. Police officers are always considered to be “on duty”. The Police Department must also annually approve any off-duty business involving an officer, such as real estate sales, to assure that there is no conflict of interest, that the business is properly licensed and that the total work does not exceed 64 hours per week. For such off-duty businesses, the officers must not represent themselves as being police officers.
(Charles Savage left the meeting at this point to catch a plane.)
Division Chief Gonzales indicated that the Fire Department’s procedures were quite similar. In addition, the department hopes to have a new procedure approved by August 1 regarding assignment of off-duty fire officers to fire-safety monitoring at events, with regard to issues raised in recent new stories.
Major Victoria Connors stated that the Sheriff’s Department has similar procedures and that secondary employment must also be reviewed by the Internal Affairs Division of the Sheriff’s Department.
APPROVAL OF INQUIRY FORM
Christopher Weimer moved and Carolyn Lievers seconded that the draft inquiry form be approved. All members voted in favor of the motion.
APPROVAL OF RULES OF PROCEDURE
Following detailed discussion by the Board and after several amendments were made to the draft Rules of Procedure, Carolyn Lievers moved and Christopher Weimer seconded that the Rules of Procedure be adopted. All members present voted in favor of the motion. The Board requested that the Rules be posted on the Board’s website and be made available at the Board’s office and at the City Clerk’s office, along with inquiry forms.
The Board went into executive session in order to have a discussion with a City employee regarding a request for an advisory opinion.
INFORMATIONAL DISCUSSION ABOUT CITY’S DISCIPLINARY PROCESS
The Board returned to a public session. Sherer Murtiashaw, the Employee Relations Supervisor at the Career Service Authority (CSA), presented information about the Career Service disciplinary process. Ms. Murtiashaw explained that CSA encompasses between 12,000 and 14,000 city employees, many of whom are seasonal, which explains the fluctuation. Rule 16 of the CSA Rules relates to the disciplinary process, Rule 18 concerns mediation and arbitration and Rule 19 governs the appeal process.
In general, the disciplinary process is a progressive discipline system, with the severity of the discipline being greater, in general, if the employee has been involved in past offenses.
City employees who are disciplined are entitled to file a grievance and/or appeal to a CSA hearing officer or appeal directly to the CSA board, depending on the circumstances of the case. In 2000, a total of 46 employees who were dismissed from their jobs appealed to the CSA board. Many of those cases involved alleged dishonesty, insubordination, fighting or violence and abuse of alcohol and drugs.
The Board recommended that information regarding arbitration/mediation and other assistance available through CSA should be provided to City employees by the Board if such information might be helpful.
The Board then voted to go into executive session to discuss and deliberate on three requests for advisory opinions, with the following results:
EXECUTIVE SESSION – DELIBERATION ON CASES
Case 01-3 - advisory opinion issued
Case 01-10 - Board determined that the request did not implicate the Code of Ethics
Case 01-11 - advisory opinion issued
The meeting adjourned at 5:20 pm.
L. Michael Henry
Approved by the Board of Ethics July 20, 2001.