Chapter 2.90


2.90.010    Code of ethics – Necessity.

2.90.020    Definitions.

2.90.030    Prohibited conduct.

2.90.040    Ethics board.

2.90.050    Penalties.

2.90.010 Code of ethics – Necessity.

In keeping with the policies declared by the State Legislature in enacting codes of ethics for state officials, it is recognized that high moral and ethical standards among city officials are equally essential to the conduct of local and state government; that a code of ethics for the guidance of city officials is necessary in order to prevent conflicts of interest in public office, improve standards of public service, and promote and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of the city in their governing body. (Ord. 1250 § 1, 1989).

2.90.020 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter the following definitions shall apply:

A. “Business” means any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, self-employed individual, consultant, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, trust or any legal entity organized for profit.

B. “Business with which the employee is associated” means:

1. Any business in which the employee, or a member of the employee’s immediate family is a director, officer, shareholder of five (5) percent or more of the aggregate number of shares issued, or owner of five (5) percent or more of the total beneficial ownership interests;

2. Any business with which the employee has a contractual relationship, except: contracts involving obligations of $500.00 or less, commercially reasonable loans made in the ordinary course of business, or contracts for commercial retail sales.

C. “Employee” means every individual elected or appointed to an office or position of employment in any city department, board or commission member, whether that individual is paid or unpaid.

D. “Immediate family” means the husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law or any other relative living in the employee’s household.

E. “Interest” means any direct or indirect monetary or material benefit accruing to a city employee as a result of contracts or transactions which are or may be the subject of an official act or action by or with the city, except contracts or transactions which confer similar benefits to all other persons and/or property similarly situated. (Ord. 1250 § 1, 1989).

2.90.030 Prohibited conduct.

A. Improper Use of Public Property. No person, except when acting on the behalf of the city, shall use or possess any property unless such use is available to the public generally. The use of city-owned vehicles after hours and for transportation to the employees residence shall not be deemed improper under the following circumstances:

1. Employees who are subject to call-out;

2. Employees who are regularly required to work more than a 40-hour work week, without extra compensation, or as authorized by the mayor; and

3. Employees authorized to attend professional and/or work-related meetings, classes, seminars, conferences, testimonials or ceremonies in which the employee travels out of town on city business.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, those employees who are allowed to use city property may do so only for the particular purposes for which the authorization is made.

B. Conflict of Interest. No city employee shall engage in any act which is in conflict with the performance of official duties. No employee shall:

1. Receive, acquire or possess any financial interest in the sale of any service or property to the city when the financial interest was acquired with prior knowledge that the city intended to purchase such property or obtain such service;

2. Solicit or receive any retailer, gift, loan, favor, entertainment or other thing of monetary value if the gift, loan, favor, entertainment or other thing of monetary value was solicited, received or given with the intent to give or obtain special consideration or influence as to any job-related action by the employee. Provided, this section shall not apply to:

a. Attendance at a hosted meal provided in conjunction with a meeting, seminar, conference, etc., which relates directly to city business, or which is attended as a staff representative,

b. An award publicly presented in recognition of public service,

c. Any gift which would have been offered or given to the employee regardless of city employment;

3. Participate in the making of a contract in which the employer has a private pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, or performs, in regard to such a contract, some function requiring the exercise of discretion on behalf of the city, except those contracts allowed under RCW 42.23.030, provided a municipal officer shall not be deemed to be interested in a contract, within the meaning of this chapter if he has only a remote interest in the contract and if the fact and extent of such interest is disclosed to the governing body of the municipality of which he is an officer and noted in the official minutes or similar records of the municipality prior to the formation of the contract, and thereafter the governing body authorizes, approves or ratifies the contract in good faith by a vote of its membership sufficient for the purpose without counting the vote or votes of the officer having the remote interest. As used in this section “remote interest” means:

a. That of a nonsalaried officer of a nonprofit corporation,

b. That of an employee or agent of a contracting party where the compensation of each employee or agent consists entirely of fixed wages or salary,

c. That of a landlord or tenant of a contracting party,

d. That of a holder of less than one percent of the shares of a corporation or cooperative which is a contracting party.

None of the provisions of this section regarding remote interests shall be applicable to any officer interested in a contract, though his interest be only remote, who influences or attempts to influence any other officer of the municipality of which he is an officer to enter into the contract;

4. Influence the city’s selection of, or its conduct of business with, a business with which the employee is associated as an officer, director, employee, agent or stockholder or has an ongoing contractual relationship;

5. Engage in, accept private employment or render services for a private interest when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties, or tends to impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of official duties;

6. Appear on behalf of any other private person or business, except as a witness under subpoena, before any regulatory governmental agency or court of law in an action or proceeding directly adverse to the city or in which the city or a city officer in an official capacity is a party. This section shall not apply to any proceeding in which the employee has a personal interest which is disclosed to the city at a regular or special meeting of the city council on the record;

7. Disclose or use any information gained by reason of employment for the immediate or anticipated benefit of the employee, or any other person; or advance a private interest with respect to any contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of official action of the city. Provided, nothing shall prohibit the disclosure or use of information which is a matter of public knowledge, or which is available to the public on request;

8. Having a financial or personal interest in any legislation pending before the city council and participate, discuss or give an official opinion to the city council, or any committee of the council, unless the nature and extent of such interest is disclosed, on the record, to the council;

9. Hold, directly or indirectly, for the purposes of personal financial gain, investment or speculation, any interest in real property situated within the city, if such employee 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;

10. Employees shall excuse themselves from any committee meeting or council meeting during any discussion or vote on any subject in which he or she has or would have a conflict of interest as defined in subdivision 1 of this subsection or where his or her participation would violate the appearance of fairness doctrine as defined in Chapter 42.36 RCW or in decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court or Court of Appeals;

11. Engage in any conduct which violates the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine (Chapter 42.36 RCW).

C. Former Employees. No former employee shall, during the period of one year after leaving city employment:

1. Disclose or use any information gained by reason of his/her city employment for his/her gain or anticipated gain, or for the gain or anticipated gain of any person, unless the information is a matter of public knowledge or is available to the public on request;

2. Assist any person in proceedings involving an agency of the city with which the former employee was officially involved while a city employee;

3. Represent any person as an advocate in any matter in which the former officer or employee was officially involved while a city officer or employee;

The prohibitions of subdivisions 2 and 3 of this subsection shall not apply to former employees acting on behalf of the city of Grandview, or on behalf of another governmental agency unless such assistance or representation is directly adverse to the interest of the city.

D. Political Activities. No employee shall solicit funds or otherwise campaign for political purposes on city property. (Ord. 1255 § 1, 1989; Ord. 1250 § 1, 1989).

2.90.040 Ethics board.

A. Ethics Board Created.

1. There is created an ethics board for the purpose of insuring the proper implementation of the code of ethics, determining violations of this code, and imposing appropriate penalties. The board shall operate as a board only during the review of a specific complaint.

2. The board shall be composed of three members at large who are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by a majority vote of the city council.

3. The initial board shall be appointed for the following term: one board member shall be appointed for a three-year term, one board member for a two-year term and one board member for a one-year term. Thereafter, board members shall be appointed for two-year terms.

4. Removal. Board members may be removed from office by the city council for cause. Absence from three consecutive meetings of the board shall be deemed a resignation of the absent board member and said board position shall be deemed vacant by the board and a new board member appointed by the mayor.

B. Board Authority/Duties. The board shall:

1. Adopt, amend and rescind rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this ordinance and govern the conduct of the board. The board may authorize investigations and hold hearings in accordance with such administrative rules and proceedings as may be adopted by it in furtherance of its purposes;

2. Make expenditures in accordance with the annual budget adopted by the city council and mayor and utilize the services of the city attorney as the board may deem necessary or advisable for assistance in carrying out its duties;

3. Make recommendations to the city council and mayor for amendments to this chapter and such other legislation affecting the subject matter of this chapter as the board may deem necessary or desirable.

C. Complaints and Investigations.

1. Any person may file a complaint alleging a violation of this code. If such complaint is filed by a member of the ethics board, he or she is then disqualified from participating in any proceeding that may arise from the complaint.

2. The complaint shall be in writing and shall be signed by the complainant. The written complaint shall state the nature of the alleged violation(s), the date(s), time and place of each occurrence, and name of the person(s) charged with the violation(s). The complaint shall be filed with the board who shall provide a copy to the person charged with the violation(s). The complaint shall provide the board with all available documentation or other evidence to demonstrate a reason for believing that a violation has occurred.

3. Within 30 days after receipt of a complaint, the ethics board shall conduct a preliminary investigation.

4. If the ethics board determines, after preliminary investigation, that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a violation has occurred, the ethics board shall dismiss the complaint. If the complaint is dismissed, it shall be done in writing, setting forth the facts and the provisions of law upon which the dismissal is based, and shall provide a copy of the written dismissal to the complainant, to the person charged with the violation, and to the mayor and to the city council.

5. If, after a preliminary investigation, the complaint is not dismissed, the ethics board shall set the matter for hearing, within 30 days.

D. Conduct of Hearings – Oaths – Subpoenas.

1. Hearings.

a. Within 30 days from the date a complaint is set by the ethics board for hearing, the board shall hold a hearing and issue a written determination stating whether the code has been violated and setting forth the facts and the provisions of law upon which this determination is based. A copy of said determination shall be delivered to the complainant, to the employee charged with the violation and, where appropriate, to the employee’s superior.

b. All hearings that are held to determine whether the provisions of this ordinance have been violated shall be conducted in conformance with ethics board rules and regulations except as otherwise provided in this ordinance.

2. Oaths. In the performance of the duties imposed upon the board by this code, the chairperson shall have the power, and is authorized, to administer oaths and affirmations and examine witnesses.

3. The board or the chairperson thereof may request that the city council issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of persons, and the production of documents, papers, books, accounts, letters and records.

4. Council. Any person summoned to appear before the board to give evidence shall have the right to be represented by counsel, at his or her expense.

E. Decisions – Violations.

1. If the board determines that a city employee has violated the provisions of this code, the board may recommend to the city council that the employee be subject to disciplinary action. In addition to any other penalty herein or otherwise provided by law, a violation shall be caused for suspension, discharge or removal from office, or such other disciplinary action as may, by the appropriate city authority, be deemed necessary and proper, and consistent with the city personnel manual, and/or state law. A written report of the disciplinary action taken as a result of the board’s recommendation shall be made by the appropriate city authority to the board within 14 calendar days after receipt of the board’s recommendation.

2. This section shall not derogate from employee rights under any collective bargaining agreement or city personnel manual or rules promulgated thereunder.

3. Upon receipt of the written report of the disciplinary action taken, or in the event no report is received, the board shall review such matter and make such further recommendations as may be appropriate. (Ord. 1250 § 1, 1989).

2.90.050 Penalties.

Violation of a provision of this code is an infraction. Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this code shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000. (Ord. 1250 § 1, 1989).