City Hall adopts ‘more concrete’ ethics policy for city employees and commissioners

photo by: Chris Conde

Lawrence City Hall, 2018.

City leaders have approved a new ethics policy to replace a more general policy that was created in 1991.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to approve a revised ethics policy that now explicitly applies to all city employees, elected officials and appointed officials, which includes advisory board members, and provides more specific language regarding what constitutes an ethics violation.

City Attorney Toni Wheeler told the commission that the goal of the new policy was to clarify whom the policy applies to and to “make the provisions more concrete and less aspirational.” Wheeler said the city consulted the ethics policies of many other communities in creating the new policy.

“Our goal in adopting this new policy was to update the language and to make it easier to understand,” Wheeler said.

The previous policy, resolution 5403, states that public officers and employees should not use their public position for private gain and should refrain from various behaviors such as taking actions on contracts that benefit them and making promises that would “compromise the integrity of their office.”

The new ethics policy uses more specific language and, among other items, explicitly bans all employees from accepting various forms of gifts, appropriating city-owned property for personal use, using information obtained as part of their position to advance personal or financial interests, and retaliating against people who report ethics violations. It also lays out the potential repercussions for violating the ethics policy, which include possible termination or removal from office.

The new ethics ordinance, resolution 7269, is in addition to updates to city employee policies regarding nepotism and fraternization recently implemented by City Manager Tom Markus.


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