100-07
CODE OF ETHICS

Department: HUMAN RESOURCES

Effective Date:    9/1/95

Supersedes:    9/1/83

Staff Contact:    B. Nelson Glode

Approved by:    Earl Clymer

1.0 PURPOSE:

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for ethical standards of conduct which shall govern city employees in the performance of city business and the duties of their respective jobs. This policy is intended to provide positive direction to city employees in order to prevent potential conflicts of interest.

This policy is not all-encompassing in its definition of conflict of interest. Action deemed inappropriate by a reasonable person, whether specifically cited in this policy or not, shall be subject to inquiry under this policy.

2.0 ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED:

All city departments/divisions

3.0 REFERENCES:

RCW 35A.42.050

City of Renton Code, Title II, Chapter 2

4.0 POLICY:

4.1    Conflict of Interest: No city employee shall engage in any act which is in conflict, or creates an appearance of conflict, with the performance of official duties. An employee shall be deemed to have a conflict of interest if the employee:

4.1.1    Has any financial interest in any sale to the city of any service or property when such financial interest was received with prior knowledge that the city intended to purchase such property, goods, or services.

4.1.2    Solicits, accepts, or seeks a gift, gratuity, or favor from any person, firm, or corporation involved in a contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of official action by the city.

4.1.2.1    Recognizing that personal friendships often precede and can evolve from official contact between employees and persons engaged in business with the city, reasonable exceptions to this section are permitted for those occasions which are social in nature and are not predicated on the employee's ability to influence, directly or indirectly, any matter before the city.

The Board of Ethics and the employee will be guided in their interpretation of this section by the distinction between a gift, gratuity, or favor given or received which has significant monetary value and is offered or accepted in expectation of preferential treatment, and an expression of social courtesy which is reasonable assumed to be reciprocal in nature. For example: a meal or social event, privately or publicly hosted by either party; exchanges of floral offerings or gifts of food to commemorate events such as illness, death, birth, holidays, promotions, anniversaries or retirement should not be construed as demeaning to the integrity of either party.

An employee should not make a unilateral decision if there is any doubt about his/her ability to impartially review a matter involving one's social contact, acquaintance, or friend. The Mayor's office and/or city attorney should be consulted.

4.1.3    Participates in his/her capacity as a city employee in the making of a contract in which he/she has a private pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, or performs in regard to such contract some function requiring the exercise of discretion on behalf of the city.

4.1.4    Engages in, accepts private employment from, or renders services for private interests for any compensation or consideration having monetary value when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties or would tend to impair independence of judgment or action in performance of official duties.

4.1.5    Discloses or uses without authorization confidential information concerning the property or affairs of the city to advance a private interest with respect to any contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of official action of the city.

4.1.6    Has a financial or personal interest in any legislation coming before the City Council and participates in discussion with or gives an official opinion to the City Council unless the employee discloses on the record of the council the nature and extent of such interest.

4.1.7    Holds directly or indirectly for the purposes of financial gain, investment, or speculation an interest in real property situated within the city if such employee in the course of his/her official duties performs any function requiring the exercise of discretion on behalf of the city in regard to the regulation of land use or development pertaining to that property; provided, that this prohibition shall not apply to:

4.1.7.1    real property devoted to the personal use or residence of the employee or member of the employee's immediate family;

4.1.7.2    any other interest in the real property held by the employee on the effective date of this policy.

4.2    Use of Public Property: No city employee shall request, use, or permit the use of city-owned vehicles, equipment, materials, or property for personal convenience or profit. Use is to be restricted to such services as are available to the public generally and for the conduct of official business.

4.3    Political Activities:

4.3.1    No city employee may use city time or property in any manner or his/her authority to promote any political issue or candidate, to solicit funds for any political purpose or to influence the outcome of any election.

4.3.2    No city employee shall accept appointment or seek election to any public office when the holding of such office would be incompatible or would substantially interfere with the discharge of official city duties.

5.0 DEFINITIONS:

5.1    Employee: Any person holding a regularly compensated position for the City of Renton, excluding elected officials and persons serving on City boards or commissions.

5.2    Interest: Any direct or indirect monetary or material benefit accruing to a city employee as a result of a contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of an official act or action by or with the city except for such contracts or transactions which would confer similar benefits to all other persons and/or property similarly situated. Examples include:

1.    Interest in an employee's family; and

2.    Interest in any business entity in which the city employee is an officer, director, or employee; and

3.    Interest in any business entity in which stock or legal beneficial ownership is in excess of one percent of the total stock or legal and beneficial ownership is controlled or owned directly or indirectly by the employee; and

4.    Interest in any person or business entity with whom a contractual relationship exists with the employee; provided, that a commercially reasonable loan made in the ordinary course of business, or a contract for a commercial retail sale shall not be deemed to create an interest.

5.3    Immediate Family: Includes spouse, child, parent, parent-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, grandparent, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. This policy shall also apply to any person related by blood or marriage who is financially dependent upon the employee and/or is residing in the employee's home.

5.4    Contract: Shall include any contract or agreement, sale, lease, purchase, or any combination of the foregoing.

6.0 PROCEDURE:

6.1    Board of Ethics: A Board of Ethics shall be established to insure the proper implementation of the code of Ethics and to investigate and report on alleged conflicts of interest involving city employees. The committee shall be composed of five members who are appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation by a majority of the members of the City Council.

6.1.1    The City Attorney shall be available and shall serve as technical staff for the Board throughout the review process.

6.1.2    The City Human Resources & Risk Management Administrator shall provide staff support and other available resources to assist the Board with the investigation of complaints.

6.1.3    The Board shall meet within thirty (30) days after receipt of any written complaint or directive from the Mayor.

6.1.4    Board Authority/Duties:

6.1.4.1    The Board shall render advisory opinions to the Mayor, in writing, concerning questions of ethics, conflicts of interest, and applicability of this Code of Ethics. The Board shall limit its scope to specific complaints and shall not go beyond matters relating to the complaint.

6.1.4.1.1    The Board shall investigate all formal written complaints, from any source, with regard to alleged violations of this policy.

6.1.4.1.2    The Board shall also investigate any suspected or alleged violation of the code of Ethics upon direction of the Mayor.

6.1.4.2    In the course of its investigation, the Board of Ethics may require any city employee or request any other person to appear before the Board to give full information under oath and to produce books, memoranda, papers, documents, financial statements, receipts, canceled checks, or any other relevant information or data in the possession, custody, or control of the person ordered or requested to appear.

6.1.4.2.1    All witnesses required or requested to attend such hearings shall receive written notificatiion, in person or by certified mail, of the time and place of the hearing at least fifteen days prior to the date fixed for attendance.

6.1.4.2.2    Whenever a city employee is under investigation for any alleged violation of this Code, he/she shall receive appropriate notice in writing from the Board at least fifteen days prior to any hearing. That employee shall also be entitled to be present, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, to be represented by counsel, and to call witnesses on his/her own behalf.

6.1.4.2.3    In order to protect the rights and reputation of persons who may be unjustly attacked or criticized and given the fact that investigations of complaints may serve as a prelude to further legal or disciplinary action, hearings concerning violations of this Code shall be conducted in private. A record of such proceeding shall, however, be made and retained.

Provided, however, that any city employee who is the subject of a complaint may demand a public hearing. All hearings whether public or private shall be conducted under the guidelines established herein.

6.1.4.3    The Board shall render a written record of its findings upon conclusion of the investigation, and a copy of these findings shall be transmitted to the Mayor.

6.1.4.3.1    The record of the Board’s written findings shall be open to public inspection unless:

1)    The information is exempt according to state law (RCW 42.17) and damage to individuals resulting from the release of the record would outweigh the public's need to know;

2)    The Board of Ethics has determined in the conduct of any hearing or proceeding under its jurisdiction that it is reasonable to withhold information in order to protect individuals who may be unjustly or improperly accused or who may be disproportionately harmed or injured in their reputation, employment, or profession by any premature disclosure;

3)    Civil or criminal action by the City of Renton or any other governmental agency having jurisdiction may be pending.

6.1.4.4    Based on the findings of the Board of Ethics, the Mayor shall make the final determination regarding the degree of violation and the penalty (if any) to the individual. Any employee who is found to be in violation will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment.

6.1.4.4.1    In the event the Board’s findings disclose an apparent violation of any state law, a copy of the findings shall be filed with the Prosecuting Attorney of King County.

6.1.4.4.2    If the Board’s findings disclose an apparent violation of any local law, then the city Attorney may prosecute by appropriate action of either a criminal or civil nature.