Council passes code on ethics-based governance It applies to elected, appointed officials - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Council passes code on ethics-based governance It applies to elected, appointed officials

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Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:28 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

A unanimous Marana Town Council has passed the town's "Code of Principle- and Ethics-Centered Governance," an 11-page document that governs the actions of town council members, and appointees who serve on town advisory boards and commissions.

Its topics range from financial disclosure to the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, political activities, the use of town-issued equipment and nepotism.

The code, effective immediately, details the possibility of sanctions – reprimand, formal censure, or loss of assignment — against those who violate the rules.

"Marana will continue setting an example for the region," Mayor Ed Honea said in a prepared release. "This code of ethics proves that our council, boards and commissions share a commitment to fair and open government."

Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said the code is a result of Marana's strategic plan, adopted last February. Work began last winter. Davidson told the council at its June 16 meeting that an ethics document would help Marana "promote the transparency of government" and its decision-making processes.

"The Town of Marana, its elected officials and advisory board, commission and committee members share a commitment to professional and personal conduct above reproach in service to the community," the document reads. The code has been created "to specifically articulate the vision, values and processes for conducting the business of town government in an open, fair and transparent environment."

Marana "upholds, promotes and demands" the highest ethical standards from all its officials. Council, board, committee and commission members "shall maintain the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties. This includes avoiding any improprieties in the role of public servant, complying with all applicable laws and never using their town position or powers inappropriately for personal gain."

Five values are highlighted:

• Ethics and integrity, to include honesty, fairness and respect, loyalty, openness and accountability;

• Open communication, to monitor "ex-parte" or one-sided communication, confidential information, electronic communication and "collegial information sharing;"

• Avoidance of conflict of interest, covering the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, advocacy, and representation of private interests. The document makes reference to Arizona statute prohibiting elected and appointed board members "from receiving anything of value or any compensation other than normal salary for any service rendered in connection with that person's duties with the town." Sometimes, meals may be provided, and acceptance is allowed. Small gifts of limited value are allowed; gifts of value may not be accepted "if the gift is a bribe, or reflects to a reasonable person an effort to improperly influence the official contrary to that official's responsibility to the public to act impartially on the merits of a matter;"

• Creation of a positive and productive work environment, with attention to effort to attend meetings, decision-making on the basis of merit, use of public resources, collaboration and teamwork, the policy role of council members; and personal conduct;

• and long-term perspective.

"It is recognized that individuals maintain their own values and are responsible for their own behaviors," the document reads. "This list is designed to articulate the collective values that comprise the organizational vision, culture and way of doing business for the Town of Marana."

Policies and laws identified within the document apply to financial disclosure, disclosure of and policy on acceptance of gifts and hospitality, open meetings, public records, the disclosure of confidential information, political activities, travel, training and memberships, town-issued equipment, non-discrimination and nepotism.

The document details how public officials can seek advice, declare a conflict or possible conflict, whether to decide to accept a small gift or hospitality, and sanctions for improper behavior.

Two years ago, employees formed a working group and created their own employee code of ethics.

Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler said that, initially, "I wasn't real happy about a code of ethics. I don't need a book to tell me what's right and wrong."

Last week, she acknowledged the work of people to create the document, which she described as "a more robust type" of policy.

Appointment pulled from town agenda

Ex-coucilman was suggested for a board position

Tim Escobedo, the former Marana Town Council member who resigned his position in December 2007 after a DUI arrest, was up for reappointment to the Marana Public Safety Personnel Retirement System board of trustees at the Tuesday, June 16 council meeting.

A resolution to reappoint Escobedo was withdrawn from the town council agenda on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the idea of seating Escobedo for a third four-year term upset Councilman Russell Clanagan.

"I realize we've removed Item 1" from the council's consent agenda, Clanagan said. "I still feel I need to speak.

"I'm very disappointed we would consider appointing a former council person … somebody who has multiple DUI arrests, and has been arrested since he left the council," Clanagan said.

As a former law enforcement officer, Clanagan was "appalled" at the suggested reappointment, particularly "without any input from anybody else."

Mayor Ed Honea had requested the four-year reappointment. Escobedo's current term is expiring in June. He has served two terms on the board, beginning in June 2001.

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