Editorial: Ethics policy changes are wise

City Commissioners should approve suggestions to clarify, modernize outdated rules on ethics.

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

The Lawrence City Commission should update the city ethics policy.

City commissioners are expected to consider updates to the policy at a meeting on Tuesday. The policy was adopted more than 25 years ago, in 1991. City Manager Tom Markus is recommending the changes which he said sends a message to the public about expectations of behavior.

Among the updates is language that makes clear that the ethics policy applies to elected officials, appointed officials and city employees. Additions to the policy include banning all employees from accepting certain gifts, using city property for personal use and retaliating against people who report ethics violations.

Other updates include changes that:

l Prohibit harassing or treating any person differently on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, familial status, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity.

l Prohibit city employees from contracting with the city for one year after ceasing to work for the city.

l Sets forth the potential repercussions for violating the ethics policy, such as employee discipline up to and including possible termination or removal from office.

The updates also establish potential repercussions for violating the ethics policy, including possible termination or removal from office.

Markus also recommends that the city adopt new employee relations policies. The first bars the city from hiring relatives of certain city employees including the city manager, city manager assistants, city attorney, department directors, city clerk and employees of the human resources department. The second gets more specific about relationships between city employees and includes a ban on romantic relationships between any supervisor and any employee he or she supervises.

Markus is right to update the ethics policy and seek stronger, more specific language. Being clear about what is a violation is in the best interest of everyone, including elected officials, city employees and the public.

The updates to the ethics policy and changes to employee relations policies are sensible and warranted. Lawrence city commissioners should approve the changes.


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