Council, not CEM, rejected ethics clause

To the Editor:

To clarify more misinformation from opponents of the citizens’ amendment for an elected mayor: Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) did not reject an ethics clause as Jack Newman alleged last month. By law, a proposed citizens’ amendment can address only one issue; unlike council or a commission, citizens cannot offer changes across the entire charter, so we had to focus solely on sections related directly to the manager/mayor structure.

Newman should be more worried that CH City Council itself rejected a key ethics recommendation by the Charter Review Commission (CRC). The Fully Amended Charter draft that council tabled removed CRC’s clause holding that the city manager, vice manager, council members and two department directors “shall avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest and any action likely to give the appearance of impropriety in the execution of their public duties,” and replaced it with a clause simply stating that those individuals have to follow applicable ethics laws. Council also replaced a phrase requiring that all “officers of the City and all employees holding a position with an annual salary” join those other named positions in subscribing to an oath or affirmation that they’ll follow state laws, and limited such an oath to the named offices plus all department heads.

Really? We need a charter revision just to remind lawmakers and city employees to follow the law? That should be self-evident. We need them to follow exactly all the ethics provisions that CRC wanted—in full, not in part.

We’d welcome a modern ethics provision as part of the charter. As soon as the initiative passes this fall, perhaps council can offer one as a further amendment—and include all of CRC’s original language as proposed, not as tinkered with by council.

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett
Secretary, Citizens for an Elected Mayor

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:08 AM, 10.01.2019