Board of Ethics
May 17, 2001
DENVER BOARD OF ETHICS
MEETING OF MAY 17, 2001
The meeting was called to order at 1:45 pm in the City Council Conference Room. Present were all of the Board members: Charles Savage, Carolyn Lievers, Marcelina Rivera, Harry MacLean and Christopher C. Weimer. With the consent of the Board members, Interim Director L. Michael Henry presided at the meeting, so that the Board members could become acquainted with each other before electing a Chair and Vice-Chair (expected to be at the Board’s next meeting on June 15, 2001).
Presiding Judge Raymond Satter of the Denver County Court administered the oath of office to all of the Board members.
All of the Board members and several observers introduced themselves. The Board members then gave a summary of their views of the purpose and goals of the new Board of Ethics. All agreed that great emphasis needs to be given to the Board’s advisory and educational roles to help City employees avoid ethics problems.
Stan Sharoff introduced himself as the Assistant City Attorney who has been assigned to assist the Board. Deputy City Attorney, Helen Raabe was also present, who has assisted in drafting the new Code of Ethics, who indicated that Mr. Sharoff will give primary legal assistance to the Board.
The Interim Director indicated that he will regularly prepare a written report to the Board. The first report is attached to the official copy of these minutes.
Harry MacLean requested that a presentation be given to the Board at its next meeting to explain the organization of the City departments and agencies and reporting structures.
DISCUSSION OF TRAINING
The Board and the Interim Director then discussed the importance of training of City employees, officers and officials in the Code of Ethics and general principles of ethics in government. Michael Henry presented a draft Request for Qualifications seeking a consultant to provide services that he, Helen Raabe and Jim Nimmer, the Manager of Training and Organizational Development in the Career Service Authority had prepared and indicated that he proposed to mail the RFQ to several parties who conduct ethics training, subject to any comments from the Board, in a few days. In summary, the RFQ will seek responses from consultants who are able to help in developing curricula for different levels of training, to help in training City staff who will do most of the training and to help deliver training to the City’s top managers and officials. Jim Nimmer then expressed his views of the need for outside help in order to implement the training quickly.
Charles Savage indicated that he believes that current city employees can probably develop and conduct the training without outside help. Jim Nimmer indicated that the City does have a good network of trainers, however, the City should obtain outside help from persons who have already developed effective ethics training models so that the City will not need to “re-invent the wheel.”
Michael Henry stated he hopes that all ethics training for City employees should be high-quality and consistent throughout all the agencies; however, each training session needs to be tailored to the specific situations in each agency and each managerial level.
John Bennett, Staff Director for the City Council, indicated that the trainers need to be well versed in the intention and meaning of the Code of Ethics and that “undoing bad training is difficult”. He indicated his hope that good training will help imbed a culture of ethical awareness in all City employees.
Helen Raabe indicated that ethics training can emphasize a philosophy and understanding of what it is to be a public servant and should give analytical tools to managerial level employees. She also stated that sending an RFQ does not obligate the City to enter into a contract with any entity, but is a way to explore what resources are available. She indicated that the City is now beginning its annual budget cycle and financial information is needed soon to assist in preparing the City budget.
Charles Savage requested that Jim Nimmer should present to the Board at its next meeting information about the availability and expertise of existing City training staff and the availability of electronic means of training.
Stan Sharoff indicated his belief that ethics training needs to be more than a list of do’s and don’ts.
John Bennett recommended that Los Angeles should be contacted to get information on their ethics training and Helen Raabe suggested that Madison, Wisconsin should also be contacted.
It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously that the Request for Qualifications, under the auspices of the City Attorney’s Office, seeking information from consultants about ethics training for Denver employees, officials and officers should be distributed, so long as it is made clear to potential proposers that it is possible that no vendor will be selected, and that there is currently no approved budget. (NOTE: It should be understood that the Board of Ethics will not be the contracting authority, as it has no approved budget and that other agencies will also be involved in selecting a consultant, if any.)
REVIEW OF DRAFT RULES OF PROCEDURE
The receipt of an opinion from the City Attorney’s office was noted, indicating that adoption of the draft Rules of Procedure would not require a formal publication or a formal rule-making hearing, since the draft rules do not add substance beyond the requirements of the ordinance passed by City Council to establish the Board of Ethics and the Code of Ethics.
Nonetheless, Harry MacLean indicated that he wanted interested parties to have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rules before they are adopted.
Michael Henry noted a number of typographical errors and omissions that need to be corrected.
The Board agreed that an addition should be made to indicate that testimony given at hearings on inquiries should be under oath. The Board also agreed that hearings on inquiries should be tape-recorded.
Stan Sharoff indicated that he would research whether or not the screening decision on citizen inquiries could be delegated to a staff person.
Harry MacLean indicated his belief that the Rules should give a more detailed explanation of the procedure for hearings.
After a few revisions were made to the draft Rules of Procedures, the Board agreed by consensus to distribute the revised draft to interested parties and to seek comments at or before the next meeting of the Board, which was agreed to be on Friday June 15, 2001 from 1:30 to 5:00 pm in the City Council Conference Room. The next meeting thereafter was set for Friday July 20, 2001 at 1:30 pm in the City Council Conference Room.
Charles Savage volunteered to help Michael Henry get a web-site for the Board of Ethics established.
The Board members agreed that they will elect officers at the June 15, 2001 meeting.
Police Captain John Weber indicated that agencies would appreciate more clarity about whether requests for advisory opinions should first be sent directly to the Board of Ethics, or to the City Attorney’s Office. The Board will have further discussion of that issue on June 15, 2001.
The Board members had a general discussion about the upcoming budget cycle. (All departments and agencies must submit their budget requests to the Finance Office by June 15 of each year.) The ordinance adopting the new Code of Ethics, passed on January 29, 2001, did not attach the Board of Ethics to any other City department or agency and it did not provide any budget for staff, office, supplies, training expenses, etc. Further discussion will need to be had with the Finance Office, the City Council and the City Attorney’s office, so that the Board can evaluate its budget needs, if any.
The Board then voted to go into executive session to discuss and deliberate upon 1 citizen inquiry (screening decision) and 8 requests for advisory opinion, with the following results:
EXECUTIVE SESSION – DELIBERATION ON CASES
Case 01-1: Citizen inquiry dismissed. (screening decision)
Case 01-2: Board determined that the request related to management
and policy issues and was not appropriate for an ethics advisory opinion.
Case 01-3: Board determined that more information was needed at next
Case 01-4: Advisory opinion issued
Case 01-5: Advisory opinion issued
Case-01-6: Advisory opinion issued
Case 01-7: Advisory opinion issued
Case 01-8: Advisory opinion issued
Case 01-9: Advisory opinion issued
The Board determined that it would wait a few months so that it could see what patterns developed regarding requests for advisory opinions before publicizing any generalized (not using names or specific facts) advisory opinions to give general guidance to City employees.
The meeting adjourned at 5:40 pm.
L. Michael Henry
(Approved by Board of Ethics 6-15-2001)