[Amended 12-1-1980; 12-30-1980; 4-1-1985; 2-6-1989; 12-7-1992]
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics which shall be charged with the administration of the Code of Ethics.
The Board of Ethics shall consist of five regular members and two alternate members, to be appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the Common Council. No more than three regular members and one alternate member may be members of the same political party. Each regular and alternate member shall, at the time of his appointment and throughout his term on the Board, be an elector of the City who is known for his personal integrity and sound judgment, who is not an employee or official of the City, who is not the chairman, vice chairman, secretary or treasurer of any political party, who has no claim pending against the City and who has no contractual relationship with the City. Both the regular and alternate members of the Board shall serve without compensation for their services.
The terms of office for the regular and alternate members of the Board shall be for five years from December 1 of the year of appointment. Initially, in 1980, one regular member shall be appointed for a term of one year, one regular member for a term of two years, one regular member for a term of three years, one regular member for a term of four years and one regular member for a term of five years. Each year thereafter a regular member shall be appointed to serve for a term of five years. Initially, in 1988, one alternate member shall be appointed for two years and one alternate member shall be appointed for three years. After the initial terms of office end, each alternate member shall be appointed to serve for a term of five years. If a vacancy occurs before the end of a term for a regular and/or alternate member, a member shall be appointed for that vacancy by the Mayor with the consent of the Common Council for the unexpired portion of the term.
Alternate members may attend all meetings and executive sessions of the Board. When seated in place of a regular member, the alternate member shall have and exercise all powers and duties as set forth in this chapter. Alternate members shall act as a regular member, when needed, on a rotating basis.
Annually at its first meeting after December 1, the Board shall elect a Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. The Chairman shall preside at all meetings. The Vice Chairman shall perform the duties of the Chairman in the absence of the Chairman. The Secretary shall sign all approved minutes.
The Chairman or, in his absence or inability to act, the Vice Chairman shall call such meetings as are necessary for the conduct of the Board's business. A meeting shall also be called if requested by any three members of the Board.
The Board of Ethics shall have the power and duty to give advisory opinions on proposed action when requested to do so by an official or employee; to investigate and hear complaints concerning allegations of unethical conduct as to any official or employee of the City and render its opinion thereon; and to make recommendations to the Common Council for changes in the Code of Ethics. The Board may adopt such rules as it deems necessary for the conduct of its business. The findings of the Board are advisory and it does not have any power to take disciplinary action.
Pursuant to C.G.S. § 7-148h and any amendments thereto or substitutes therefor, the Board may, after a finding of probable cause, issue subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum, enforceable upon application to the Superior Court, to compel the attendance of persons at hearings and the production of books, documents, records and papers.
Advisory opinion. Before requesting an opinion, the official or employee shall consult about the matter with the director of his department or other supervisory authority. Requests for advisory opinions shall be made in writing on a form prescribed by the Board and signed by the official or employee. All relevant facts shall be stated. The Board may require additional information. The Board shall meet within 15 days of receipt of all information and shall render its decision in writing within 15 days of the meeting, a copy of which shall be sent to the one requesting it. A copy of each decision shall be filed with the Mayor's office and City/Town Clerk's office. An official or employee who in good faith relies on an advisory opinion of the Board shall not be disciplined if such action is thereafter found to be a violation of this chapter.
Required vote for advisory opinion. No advisory opinion shall be made except upon the concurring vote of three members of the Board.
[Amended 10-4-1993; 1-3-1994; 2-6-1995; 8-2-1999]
The Board of Ethics shall have the power to investigate a written complaint concerning official conduct of any City official or employee. Any person (complainant) may file a complaint with the Board on a form prescribed by the Board. The complaint shall be signed under penalty of false statement and shall state the name of the person accused (respondent) and the specific acts alleged to constitute the violation. Specific acts alleged to constitute the violation(s) of the Code of Ethics must be stated or the complaint will be rejected by the Board. The complainant must sign an acknowledgment that the complaint and its contents are confidential unless and until the Board makes a finding of probable cause or the respondent requests that they be made public.
If the investigation of the complaint is confidential, the allegations in the complaint and any information supplied to or received from the Board shall not be disclosed during the investigation to any third party by a complainant, respondent, witness, designated party or Board or staff member.
Written acknowledgment of receipt of the complaint shall be sent to the complainant, and a copy of the complaint shall be sent by the Board to the respondent within seven days of the date that the Board meets and reviews the complaint. Upon receipt the respondent may either request a hearing or may submit a written statement as to whether the complaint states a violation. The time for response shall be set by the Board but shall not be less than seven days nor more than 30 days.
If after investigation the Board determines that the complaint does not allege facts sufficient to constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics, it shall dismiss the complaint. Within three days after the end of its investigation the Board must notify the complainant and respondent of its findings and provide a summary of those findings.
If the Board determines that the complaint alleges sufficient facts to state a violation, the Board shall fix a date for the commencement of a hearing on the complaint, which shall not be more than 60 days from the finding of probable cause. The Board shall make public such a finding of probable cause not later than five business days after the termination of the investigation. At such time the entire record of the investigation shall become public. The Board shall give notice of the date fixed for the hearing at least 14 days before the date of the hearing. The hearing may be continued from time to time in the discretion of the Board. The hearing shall be open to the public.
The hearing shall be recorded by a stenographer or a recording device provided by the Board. If the Board does not provide a stenographer, the complainant or respondent may employ a stenographer at his own expense. If a transcript is made, a copy shall be supplied to the Board and another made available to the other party upon payment of 1/2 of the cost of obtaining the transcript.
The Board shall render its findings in writing within 30 days after the conclusion of the hearing on the complaint. A copy of the findings shall be sent to the complainant and respondent. If the Board's decision is that the complaint was justified a copy of the decision shall be sent to the Mayor, Common Council or other authority for action in accordance with the appropriate ordinance, Charter provision or state statute.
No finding of a violation of this chapter shall be made except upon the concurring vote of three members of the Board.
No complaint may be made under this section except within three years next after the violation alleged in the complaint has been committed.
Upon the written request of an official or an employee against whom a complaint has been filed with the Board of Ethics, the City shall provide reimbursement of all reasonable expenses incurred in preparation for defense and in the defense of such complaint, including attorneys' fees, provided, in the event the Board of Ethics makes a finding of a violation of the Code of Ethics by such official or employee as alleged in such complaint and such finding is not reversed or otherwise invalidated by the judgment of a court, the City shall not provide reimbursement for expenses incurred by such official or employee in defending such complaint.
If there is a finding by the Board of Ethics of a violation of the Code of Ethics by an official or employee, and a court enters a judgment reversing or otherwise invalidating such finding, such official or employee shall be reimbursed by the City for reasonable expenses incurred in the proceedings which resulted in the invalidation of the finding of the Board of Ethics and in defense of the complaint before the Board of Ethics.
A clerk shall be provided to record the minutes of meetings and provide secretarial services to the Board.