[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of North Branford 5-17-2005 by Ord. No. 231, effective 6-14-2005. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Building Code Board of Appeals — See Ch. 12.
Conservation and Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency — See Ch. 20.
Economic Development Commission — See Ch. 29.
Board of Education — See Ch. 33.
Flood and Erosion Control Board — See Ch. 44.
Housing Authority — See Ch. 48.
Justices of the Peace — See Ch. 60.
Permanent Project Building Committee — See Ch. 73.
Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals — See Ch. 75.
Parks and Recreation Commission — See Ch. 88.
Salaries and compensation — See Ch. 92.
The purpose of this chapter is to set standards for Town officials, elected and appointed, by establishing a Code of Conduct. It is intended to strengthen the tradition of good government in North Branford.
Good government depends upon public servants who make decisions which are in the best interest of the Town as a whole, without regard for personal gain.
While this document establishes minimum standards for ethical behavior, it is not possible to anticipate all circumstances that may occur. It is for this reason that Town officials should make every effort to avoid actions that appear to be a conflict of interest, even when the conflict is not clearly defined by the language of this Code.
The following words or phrases shall have the following meanings:
- For the purposes of this chapter, "campaign" shall refer to those activities as are restricted in § 35-5C.[Added 8-7-2007 by Ord. No. 238]
- CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
- Oral or written information, obtained by an official in the course of performing his or her duties and is not, at the time of transmission, a matter of public record or knowledge.
- FINANCIAL INTEREST
- A direct or indirect personal interest having a value of more than $50, to an official or a member of his or her immediate family and which is an interest distinct from that of the public at large.
- GENERAL PUBLIC
- Ordinary people, especially all the people who are not members of a particular organization or who do not have any special type of knowledge.
- Any thing or group of things, including but not limited to loan, promise, service, entertainment, food, beverage, travel, and lodging, given or paid to the extent that consideration of equal value is not received by the donor having an aggregate monetary value in excess of $50 in any calendar year. "Gift" shall also include any thing or benefit, regardless of its monetary value, perceived or intended by either the donor or the person to whom it is offered to be of sufficient value to influence an official in the performance or nonperformance of his or her duties.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- Any parent, child, spouse, parent or child of said spouse, spouse of any child, grandchildren or cohabitating person of an official irrespective of whether or not any of the foregoing persons reside in the official's household.
- Any person holding elective or appointive office in the government of the Town as a regular or alternate member on the Town Council, Board of Education, or any council, board, commission, committee or agency, including, but not limited to Town Council, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation and Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, Permanent Project Building Committee, Registrars of Voters, Board of Fire Commissioners, Police.
- Any individual, entity, corporation, limited liability company, association, partnership, or political entity.
- PERSONAL INTEREST
- A direct or indirect interest having a pecuniary or nonpecuniary value peculiar to an official, which is not shared by the general public or is not in furtherance of an official governmental duty.
- POLITICAL PARTY
- An organization of voters formed to influence the government's conduct and policies by nominating and electing candidates to public office. In the Town of North Branford, which has traditionally maintained a two-party system, political party refers to either the Democratic or Republican party.
- PROBABLE CAUSE
- Trustworthy facts and circumstances sufficient to justify a reasonable person to believe that a violation of the Code may have transpired.
No official shall use or authorize the use of Town funds, services, property, equipment, owned or leased vehicles, or materials for a personal interest, except when such use or authorization is provided in conformance with established Town policies for the official Town business.
If an official, his or her immediate family, business or employer, will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer direct monetary loss distinct from the privileges, rights, restrictions or benefits afforded the general public, in any matter that comes before the official in the course of discharging his or her duties or responsibilities, said official shall refrain from any discussion, decision, action or vote in said matter.
Contracting with, selling to, or purchasing from the Town. No official shall be financially interested, directly or indirectly, as a principal, surety, officer or otherwise, except as a minority stockholder of a publicly held corporation, in any decision pertaining to any contract with, sales to or purchases from the Town or comparable services rendered to the Town; provided, however, that any official whose office does not directly oversee the department or agency of the Town purchasing or selling said material or service shall not be barred from contracting with the Town on such sales or purchases of materials or services.
Disclosure and use of confidential information. No official shall disclose any confidential information. No official shall use any confidential information for the purpose of advancing the financial interest or personal interest of himself or others.
Gifts and favors. No official or immediate family shall knowingly solicit or accept any gift from any person who is providing said gift in order to influence the decision-making authority of said official in business dealings with the Town. This prohibition shall not apply to lawful political contributors as defined in § 9-333(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes or to gifts and favors between, to or from the official and his/her immediate family.
Use of influence. No official shall, directly or indirectly, intimidate or coerce another official, employee, contractor or agent of the Town for purpose of fulfilling a personal interest or financial interest of the official or others. No official shall, directly or indirectly, solicit, intimidate, or coerce another employee, contractor or agent of the Town for the purpose of fulfilling a personal interest or financial interest of the official or others.
Interest in a personal or financial sense. Any official, who has a personal interest or financial interest in any matter coming before the body on which said official serves, shall disclose said interest to such body, which shall be recorded in the official records of its meeting. Such official shall refrain from voting upon and not otherwise participate in the consideration of such matter or any determination in connection therewith. No official shall appear for or represent any person in any matter pending before the Town Council, Board of Education, or any board, committee, commission or agency of the Town, of which they are a member. Any official who has a conflict of interest as delineated in this section shall not remain present during any executive session as defined by C.G.S. § 1-202(6), discussions of material pertaining to records delineated in C.G.S. § 1-210, collective bargaining discussions pursuant to C.G.S. § 1-200, et seq., or discussions of any confidential information.
Representation of private interests. No official shall appear on behalf of the private interest or concern of another person, other than immediate family, before any board, commission or agency of the Town, as defined in § 35-2 above, nor shall he represent private interests in any action or proceeding against the Town in any litigation when said appearance or representation would be in conflict with or would impair his independence of judgment and action in the performance of his official duties as such officer.
Former public officials.
No former official shall appear for compensation before any Town commission, agency, committee, authority, or board by or in which he/she formerly served at any time upon any matter which was under consideration at the time of his or her service at any time.
No former official shall represent anyone other than the Town before any board or commission concerning any particular matter in which he/she participated personally and substantially while in municipal service.
No former official shall disclose or use confidential information for the purpose of advancing a financial interest or personal interest for said former official or others.
No former official who participated substantially in the negotiation or award of a Town contract obliging the Town to pay an amount of $100,000 or more, or who supervised the negotiation or award of such contract, shall accept employment with a party to the contract other than the Town for a period of one year after such contract was signed and substantial performance thereof had begun.
[Amended 8-7-2007 by Ord. No. 238]
There is hereby created an Ethics Commission which shall be charged with the administration of the Code of Ethics and its enforcement as provided herein. The Commission shall be comprised of five resident electors and appointed by a two-thirds-majority vote of the Town Council. No more than two members shall be of the same political party. The Town Council may appoint as aforesaid and designate two additional members as alternates, no more than one of whom shall be of the same political party or be unaffiliated. Of the five members initially appointed, one shall be appointed for a term of one year, two for terms of two years and two for terms of three years. All subsequent and alternate (if any are made) appointments shall be for a term of three years. Said Commission shall elect a Chair who shall preside over the call of its meetings and a Vice Chair who shall perform the Chair's duties in his or her absence.
No member of such Commission shall:
Be a Town employee or employee of the Board of Education or have served as any such employee within two years of such appointment.
Have held public (state) office or have been a candidate (or campaigned for another) for such public office for a two-year period prior to appointment.
Hold office in any political party or political committee or any organization or association organized primarily for the purpose of influencing legislation or decisions of public agencies.
Serve as an official or have served as an official as herein defined, or campaigned for an official, for a two-year period prior to appointment.
Be a party to any contract to do business with the Town.
Although any member of the Commission shall have an unrestricted right to vote, make political contributions or attend fundraising or other political events, no Commission member shall publicly support any candidate for any municipal office subject to the Commission's jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, volunteering as a campaign worker, giving a speech at a political event or formally endorsing a candidate, or posting a sign at his/her home or business.
No candidate for municipal office may disseminate information that indicates that a Commission member supports the candidate's candidacy.
The Commission meetings shall be governed by standard rules of parliamentary procedure. The Commission shall adopt rules of procedures and regulations which it deems necessary to carry out the intent of this chapter, and said rules and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the Office of the Town Clerk and available for public inspection.
An Official may submit a written request for an advisory opinion to the Chair of the Commission. The Commission shall render a written advisory opinion based upon this chapter within 30 days of said written request. The Commission shall file its advisory opinion with the Town Clerk, but shall delete references to the identity of the official or any other party.
The Commission shall receive and consider complaints from any person of any alleged violations of the Code of Ethics. Any individual making said complaint must do so in writing, must file the original complaint with the Town Clerk, must sign said complaint under penalty of false statement, and must have a good faith basis for said complaint. All such complaints shall be deemed confidential until such time as probable cause is found.
The complaint shall state with specificity, the name of the official or officials being accused of an ethics violation as defined herein, the provisions believed to be violated, a summary of the evidence upon which the complainant will rely to substantiate such allegations and information that may lead to information relevant for the Commission to conduct its investigation. In summarizing the evidence, the complainant need not identify any witnesses, other than himself, who would testify, but only summarize the nature and content of that testimony.
Upon receipt of a complaint of an alleged violation of the Code, the Town Clerk shall notify the official about whom said complaint was made, and each member of the Commission of the existence of the complaint, and the date on which such complaint was received. Such notice shall be in writing and include a copy of the complaint, including any exhibits attached thereto. Such notice shall be sent to the official about whom said complaint was made via certified mail, return receipt requested, within three business days of the receipt of the complaint. Said notice shall be sent, via regular mail, to each member of the Commission within three business days of the receipt of the complaint.
The Commission shall schedule an initial hearing on the complaint within 30 days of the receipt of the complaint by the Town Clerk. The purpose of such hearing will be to determine:
After an initial review, the Commission may:
Dismiss the complaint if it finds that one or more of the requirements mentioned in Subsection D above are not met; or
If a full hearing on the complaint is required, the respondent shall have the right to counsel, to confront and cross-examine all witnesses against him, and to present evidence on his behalf. No hearing shall be held with less than five Commission members present. At least four affirmative votes of the Commission are necessary in order to find a violation of this chapter.
Unless the Commission makes a finding of a violation of this chapter, the complaint and the record shall remain confidential, except upon the request of the respondent or a court of competent jurisdiction. Notice of the finding shall be sent to the complainant and the respondent by certified mail within three days after the termination of the hearing or investigation.
The Commission shall make public a finding of a violation not later than five business days after the termination of the hearing. At such time the entire record of the investigation shall become public. The Commission shall inform the complainant and the respondent of its findings and provide them a summary of its reasons for making such a finding by certified mail not later than three business days after the termination of the hearing.
The Commission is empowered to levy the sanctions of public censure, reprimand, or restitution of any pecuniary benefits received because of the violation committed by an official.
Upon a determination of a violation of this chapter, the Commission may also recommend limited fines up to $100 or removal from office to the Town Council for consideration.
The Commission shall report annually, on or before February 1, to the Town Council summarizing the activities of the Commission.
Any complaint of an alleged violation of this chapter must be received by the Town Clerk within one year from the date of the alleged violation.
In order that all public officials are aware of what constitutes ethical conduct in the operations of the government of the Town of North Branford, the Town Clerk shall cause a copy of this Code of Ethics to be distributed to each and every official of the Town within 60 days after the enactment of this Code. Each Official shall be furnished a copy before entering the duties of his office at the time of being sworn in and sign a statement stating that he or she has received a copy of this chapter.
If any section, subdivision, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter or any part thereof is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, or ineffective by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity or effectiveness of the remaining portions of this chapter or any part thereof.