Chapter 2.56
TOWN MEETING CODE OF ETHICS, PROCEDURES AND BEHAVIOR

Sections:

2.56.010    Purpose and scope.

2.56.020    Ethical standards.

2.56.030    Conflicts of interest.

2.56.040    Gifts and gratuities.

2.56.050    Confidential information – Disclosure prohibited.

2.56.060    Specific complaint against public official or town employee.

2.56.070    Procedure.

2.56.080    Severability.

2.56.010 Purpose and scope.

The purpose of the town of Concrete code of ethics is to provide a clear statement of the minimum standards of ethical conduct expected of both town officials and employees and local responsibility for compliance with adopted standards. The town of Concrete code of ethics contains standards similar to the provisions of state statute found in Chapter 42.23 RCW governing the ethical conduct expected of local government officials and employees statewide. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.020 Ethical standards.

In order to avoid becoming involved or implicated in a conflict of interest or impropriety or, just as important, an appearance of conflict of interest or impropriety, public officials and town employees shall not:

(1) Knowingly use their office or position for personal or family gain or profit; or

(2) Use town-owned property or town services for personal or family gain or profit;

(3) Use information acquired in confidence by reason of their official position from a town customer, supplier, lessee or contractor for other than town purposes. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.030 Conflicts of interest.

(1) Public officials and town employees shall not knowingly engage in activities which are in conflict, or which have the potential to create conflict, with performance of official duties.

Examples of conflicts or potential conflicts of interest include, but are not necessarily limited to, circumstances where a public official or town employee:

(a) Influences the selection or nonselection of, or the conduct of business between the town and any entity in which the public official, town employee or their spouses or domestic partners has a financial interest.

(b) Accepts any retainer, compensation, gift or anything of value that is contingent upon a specific action or nonaction by the public official or town employee.

(c) Intentionally uses or discloses information not available to the general public and acquired by reason of his or her official position which benefits himself or herself, family, friends or others.

(2) Public officials and town employees shall not take part in any council action, as that term is defined in Chapter 42.30 RCW, concerning any contract, property, or other matter of any kind, in which the public official, town employee or his or her immediate family has a financial interest, or which otherwise creates a conflict of interest.

(3) Public officials and town employees shall not be deemed to violate subsection (2) of this section when they only have a remote interest in a contract or sale. Public officials and department heads shall disclose the fact and extent of a remote interest for the official minutes of the town council prior to the town council taking any action related to the interest and thereafter all action taken by the town council related to such interest shall be by vote sufficient for the purpose without counting the vote of the public official or town employee having the remote interest.

(4) Members of the town of Concrete, Washington, boards, commissions, and town staff are prohibited from being awarded contracts with the town.

Notwithstanding subsection (4) of this section, public officials and town employees may have a beneficial interest in a contract with the town under the following circumstances:

(a) If an item of business relating to the contract comes before the public official or town employee, the official or employee must identify the contract on the record and recuse himself or herself from acting in any way on that item. The individual shall not remain in the meeting room during the discussion of that item; and

(b) The official or employee has not lobbied the town to enter into the contract; and

(c) The official or employee has not influenced town policy with the primary purpose of creating the need for the contract; and

(d) The contact cannot be made by, through or under the supervision of the official or employee, in whole or in part, or for the benefit of his or her office. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.040 Gifts and gratuities.

Public officials and town employees shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit any gift or accept or receive any gift, whether it be money, services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, promise, or any other form, under the following circumstances:

(1) It could be reasonably inferred or expected that the gift was intended to influence them in the performance of their official duties; or

(2) The gift was intended to serve as a reward for any official action on their part. Public officials and town employees may accept de minimis gifts such as, but not limited to, calendars, coffee mugs, flowers, candy, and other similar items that are given as a customary business practice and have no material significance to the recipient, with such gifts from any one source not to exceed $100.00 in value in any 12-month period. Town employees should report any gift to their immediate supervisor.

This section shall not apply to gifts made to the town. All such gifts shall be given to the mayor for official disposition. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.050 Confidential information – Disclosure prohibited.

Public officials and town employees shall not, except as required or reasonably believed to be required for the performance of his/her duties, disclose confidential information gained by reason of his/her official position or use such information for his/her own personal interest. “Confidential information” is all information, whether transmitted orally or in writing, that the employee has been informed, is aware, or has reason to believe is intended to be used only for town purposes, is not intended for public disclosure, or is otherwise of such nature that is not, at the time, a matter of public record or public knowledge. Confidential information includes, but is not limited to, personal information regarding town officials and employees; private financial and other personal information provided by town taxpayers, license holders, contractors, and customers; intelligence and information, including the identity of persons filing complaints; formula, designs, drawings, and research data obtained or produced by the town and preliminary, nonfinal assessments, or opinions, and recommendations concerning town policies and actions. Any public official who is uncertain as to whether certain information is confidential should consult the mayor. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.060 Specific complaint against public official or town employee.

(1) In conjunction with CMC 2.52.790 these provisions are intended to supplement the guidelines for appropriate conduct of town employees and officials as follows:

(a) Any person may submit a written complaint to the mayor alleging one or more violations of this ethics code by a public official. If said complaint or allegation is against the mayor the complaint shall be submitted to the mayor pro-tem. The allegation shall set forth specific facts with precision and detail, sufficient for a determination of sufficiency by the mayor. Complaints should be signed by the person or persons submitting them, include the submitter’s correct name, address at which mail may be personally delivered to the submitter, and the telephone number at which the submitter may be contacted.

(b) The mayor or his/her designee shall inform the public official and the council of the complaint and shall submit the complaint to the town council for determination of sufficiency of the complaint within 24 hours of its receipt. Voicemail, email or similar notification of the defendant is acceptable if actual notice is not immediately practicable. A copy of the complaint shall also be sent to the defendant by registered mail within three days of receipt. A complaint cannot be sufficient unless it precisely alleges and describes unjustified acts which constitute a prima facie showing of a violation of a specified provision or provisions of this code.

(c) The complainant shall have the responsibility for proving the allegations in the complaint by a preponderance of the evidence.

(d) Complaints shall be subject to a one year statute of limitations. The limitations period shall commence from the date that information on completion of the alleged misconduct was reasonably available to the public.

(e) Complaints may be amended as authorized by the decision-maker as justice requires; provided, that the time frames of the review process provide the defendant with a fair opportunity to respond.

(f) All public officials and employees, excluding the alleged violator, shall observe strict confidentiality as to the complaint and alleged violator until the review is complete, to the extent that the information is acquired as a result of a person’s status as a public official or employee.

(g) In the event the final determination by the town council provides that the individual against whom the complaint has been filed has violated the code of ethics, the council shall convene and render its decision within 30 days of the receipt of said determination unless an extension is requested by the defendant and granted by the council. In the event that the town council members agree by majority vote that one or more of the violations occurred, then as to the violations the town council may take any of the following actions by a majority vote of the council; provided, that penalties may only be based upon violations alleged in the complaint or amended complaint and not upon other violations discovered during the complaint process:

(i) Admonition. An admonition shall be a verbal nonpublic statement made by the mayor to the individual.

(ii) Reprimand. A reprimand shall be administered to the individual by letter. The letter shall be approved by the town council and shall be signed by the mayor. If the individual objects to the content of such letter, he or she may file a request for review of the letter of reprimand with the town council. The town council shall review the letter of reprimand in light of the report and the request for review, and may take whatever action appears appropriate under the circumstances. The action of the town council shall be final and not subject to further review.

(iii) Censure. A censure shall be a written statement administered personally to the individual. The individual shall appear at a time and place directed by the town council to receive the censure. Notice shall be given at least 20 days before the scheduled appearance at which time a copy of the proposed censure shall be provided to the individual. Within five days of receipt of the notice, the individual may file a request for review of the content of the censure. The town council shall review the proposed censure in light of the report and the request for review, and may take whatever action appears appropriate under the circumstances. The action of the town council shall be final and not subject to further review. If no such request is received, the censure shall be administered at the time and place set. It shall be given publicly, and the individual shall not make any statement in support of or in opposition thereto or in mitigation thereof. A censure shall be deemed administered at the time it is scheduled whether or not the individual appears as required.

(iv) Removal. In the event the individual against whom the complaint has been filed is a member of a town board, commission, committee, or other multi-member bodies appointed by the mayor with the approval of town council, the town council may, by a majority vote, remove the individual from such board, commission or committee; provided, however, that nothing in this section authorizes the town council to remove a council member or the mayor from his or her office.

(h) Action by the town council shall be by majority vote. If the proceeding involves a member of the town council, the member does not vote on any matter involving the member. As provided in RCW 35.27.280 and clarified in RCW 35.27.270 and 35.27.330, the mayor shall vote in the case of a tie, except if the action is against the mayor. Deliberation by the council may be in executive session; however, upon request of the person complained against, the meeting shall be open to the public.

(i) A complaint cannot be sufficient unless it precisely alleges and describes unjustified acts, which constitute a prima facie showing of a violation of a specified provision or provisions of this code.

(2) Specific Complaint Against a Town Employee. In the event the individual against whom the complaint has been filed is a town employee, the town shall follow the appropriate discipline, through the employee’s supervisor and/or department head, procedures as outlined in the appropriate bargaining agreement, employee handbook, and/or standard operating procedures. Employees also have the right to appeal through the court system as regulated by state and federal law. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.070 Procedure.

The town council shall, from time to time, adopt rules of procedure for the orderly conduct of business at any public meeting. These rules shall generally follow the guidelines attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter and Robert’s Rules of Order. The guidelines attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter are the rules of procedure of any official town meeting wherein a record is kept. [Ord. 725, 2014]

2.56.080 Severability.

If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the remaining portions of this chapter, it being hereby expressly declared that this chapter and each section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause, sections, subsections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, or phrases be declared invalid or unconstitutional. [Ord. 725, 2014]