[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and City Council of the City of Monroe 10-16-2006 by Ord. No. 06-018. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Monroe City Council is the governing body for the City of Monroe, therefore it bears the primary responsibility for the integrity of governance. The following set of standards are intended to preserve the values, integrity, and fiduciary duty of local government. One of the best ways to maintain the public's confidence and trust in its government is to assure that all decisions and actions of government are made on the merits, free of any consideration of private gain, and that expectations for this behavior exist during and after association with the City, and that unambiguous rules of ethical conduct are published, followed and enforced.
As such, it is the purpose of this chapter to codify standards of ethical conduct that are clearly established, understood and uniformly applied. These standards will provide residents, public servants and all others with guidance and information about ethical standards. The following six standards of conduct are addressed in this chapter: conflict of interest; improper use of position; incompatible employment; political activity and inappropriate solicitations; confidential and public information; public property and personnel.
The City of Monroe shall not tolerate harassment or discrimination because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status as prohibited by Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, MCLA § 37.2101 et seq.
It is the public policy of this City that all public servants understand and implement these ethical standards and guidelines so as to advance the purpose of this chapter in accordance with the following principles:
Public interest. Public servants derive their authority and power from the public and are obligated to exercise that power as trustees of the public. The power and resources of government, therefore, shall be used only to advance the public interest.
Objective judgment. Loyalty to the public interest requires that all matters shall be decided with independent, objective judgment, free from avoidable conflicts of interest, improper influences, and competing loyalties.
Accountability. Keeping with the Michigan Open Meetings Act and the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, government business shall be conducted in the "sunshine" in an efficient and fair manner, so as to enable residents to make informed decisions and to hold public servants accountable.
Editor's Note: See MCLA §§ 15.261 et seq. and 15.231 et seq., respectively.
Conduct. All public servants shall honor and respect the spirit and principles of representative democracy and will conscientiously observe the spirit as well as the letter of the law.
Respect. All public servants shall maintain public confidence by being honest, fair and respectful of all persons and property with whom they have contact; by maintaining nonpartisanship in all official acts, and by avoiding conduct which may tend to undermine respect for public servants.
This ordinance shall be known and may be cited as "the Code of Ethics."
In the event that a violation of the code of ethics is also a violation of applicable state law, the alleged violator may be subject to prosecution under either provision, as determined by the appropriate prosecutorial entity.
As used herein, the following definitions shall control:
- Any department, office, multi-member body, or other organization of the local government.
- One who holds either a compensated or an uncompensated position, including a person who is appointed by the Mayor and City Council but who is not considered an employee of the City of Monroe but rather who are members of boards, commissions, committees, and municipal corporations, and boards that have state-granted judicial, legislative, and policymaking authority.
- The City of Monroe.
- The Clerk/Treasurer of the City of Monroe.
- CITY COUNCIL
- The legislative body of the City of Monroe.
- CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
- Information that has been obtained by a public servant in the course of acting as a public servant that is not available to members of the public under either the Michigan Freedom of Information Act or the Michigan Open Meetings Act or for which disclosure or release to the public is exempted or prohibited under any other ordinance, state or federal law, rule or regulation. As used herein, information includes, but is not limited to, verbal information, written information or information that is electronically or mechanically stored, transmitted or reproduced, or any other means of recording or retaining meaningful content.
- (1) A determination, action, vote or other disposition upon a motion, proposal, recommendation, resolution or ordinance by the City Council or local government agency; or
- (2) A determination, action or other disposition taken by a public servant or other government agency in the performance of their public duties.
- The transfer of anything of economic value to a public servant, regardless of form, intended to influence his or her official duties or as a reward for any action taken by the public servant.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT
- The governmental organization of the City of Monroe.
- Mayor of the City of Monroe.
- OWNERSHIP INTEREST
- A financial or pecuniary interest that a public servant has in the affairs of any business entity in which the public servant or a member of his or her immediate family is an officer, director, member or employee; any business entity in which the public servant or a member of his or her immediate family control, or directly or indirectly owns, in excess of 10% of the total stock or an interest totaling $50,000 or more in value; or any person or business entity with whom the public servant has a contract.
- PERSONAL SERVICES CONTRACT
- A contract for the retention of an individual, corporation, partnership or other business entity to perform services, professional or otherwise, on behalf of the City for a fixed period of time and for fixed compensation.
- (1) Any benefit which is accepted or received by a public servant, or his/her immediate family, or is perceived by a reasonable person to be accepted or received by a public servant, or his immediate family, as remuneration for the purpose of influencing an official action in a specific manner, or for refraining from the performance of an official action in a specific manner, or as an inducement for the public servant to act in favor of some interest other than in the public interest.
- (2) To clarify, by way of illustration only, unless the aforementioned standard is violated the following types of benefits, monetary payments, or reimbursements, gifts, awards or emoluments are permissible to be received by a public servant:
- (a) The payment of salaries, compensation or employee benefits to a public servant by an employer or business other than the local government pursuant to employment/contract where the payment is unrelated to the public servant's status as a public servant and which did not involve the use of the local government's time, equipment, facilities, supplies, staff or other resources.
- (b) Authorized reimbursement by the local government to a public servant of actual and necessary expenses incurred by the public servant pursuant to duly enacted ordinances and resolutions of the City of Monroe.
- (c) Campaign or political contributions which are made and reported, if required, by a public servant in accordance with state law.
- (d) Ceremonial gifts given in the normal course of a public servant's official capacity; as well as seasonal gifts of nominal value provided to the City, and not solely to an individual public servant.
- (e) A gift received from a public servant's immediate family member, provided that the immediate family member is not acting as a third party's intermediary or an agent in an attempt to circumvent this chapter.
- (f) Meals or beverages provided to the public servant by an individual or by a nongovernmental organization during a meeting related to official local government business.
- (g) Complimentary copies of trade publications, books, reports, pamphlets, calendars, periodicals or other informational materials that are received by a public servant.
- (h) Receipt by a public servant of a bequest or inheritance.
- PUBLIC SERVANT
- The Mayor, City Council member, Clerk, any appointee, employee or individual who provides services to the local government within or outside of its offices or facilities pursuant to a personal services contract.
Conflict of interest.
A public servant shall not make a loan of public funds, grant a subsidy, fix a rate, issue a license, permit or certificate, or otherwise regulate, supervise or participate in a decision that pertains to an entity in which the public servant, or a member of his or her immediate family, or any other person with whom he or she has a financial relationship, has an ownership interest.
A public servant shall not solicit, accept or receive, directly or indirectly, a gift, loan or promise of money, goods, services, contribution, reward, employment, future employment, any favors, gratuities or special consideration or other things of value from anyone who is currently doing business with the City, seeking to do business with the City, or who may currently be negotiating to do business with the City in the future, or who may otherwise seek any actions or approval by the City, unless specifically allowed by City policy.
Improper use of position.
A public servant shall not use his or her public office and employment to obtain financial gain for himself or herself, a member of his or her immediate family, or a business or nonprofit organization with which he or she is associated, or use his or her official position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or herself, or others, except as provided by law.
A public servant shall not represent his or her personal opinion as that of the City.
A public servant shall not engage, accept employment, or render services for a private or public interest where such employment or service is incompatible with the proper performance of the public servant's duties for the City, or where such employment or service is reasonably expected to impair the public servant's independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her official duties for the City.
A public servant shall make a written disclosure to the Mayor, City Council, Clerk or City Manager, as appropriate, as to the nature and extent of outside employment when such outside employment involves business being transacted with the City that has either a direct or indirect financial benefit to the public servant or to a public servant's immediate family.
Political activity and inappropriate solicitations.
A public servant, while performing his or her duties as a public servant or in the course of his or her employment, shall not use City property for his or her political benefit or for the political benefit of any other person seeking elective office. This provision shall not prohibit the use of property or facilities available to the public on an equal basis for due consideration paid while the public servant is not performing his or her duties as a public servant or while not in the course of his or her employment.
A public servant, while performing his or her duties as a public servant or in the course of his or her employment, whether on City property or not, shall not solicit political campaign contributions or votes for elective office or personally solicit contributions that support philanthropic activities or organizations.
Confidential and public information.
A public servant or immediate family member or any other person shall not benefit financially or enjoy private gain from confidential information acquired in the course of holding elected office or employment with the City.
Except as authorized by law, a public servant shall not knowingly disclose confidential information to any person not authorized to obtain such information that is acquired in the course of his or her employment or in the course of holding elected office.
Public property and personnel.
A public servant shall not use or permit others to use any City-owned property, City funds, City personnel, or any other tangible City resources under his or her control for private gain or to support the activities of commercial or noncommercial interests unless approval is first obtained from the City Council, the City Manager or the appropriate department head, as the circumstances require.
Creation. There is created an independent body called the Board of Ethics.
Objective. The Board of Ethics is charged with reviewing and determining the factual sufficiency of all complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics; as well as issuing written advisory opinions when so requested. The Board of Ethics is a fact-finding body whose determinations and findings are strictly advisory, and not mandatory, upon the local government.
Board membership; terms; quorum; meetings; rules.
The Board of Ethics shall consist of five members at least three of whom must be residents of the City of Monroe and two who are residents of Monroe County who own property within the City, or own a business within the City, or are employees of a business located within the City.
The Mayor shall appoint the members with the advice and consent of City Council. Current public servants are not eligible for appointment to the Board. Members of the Board may be removed by the Mayor for cause, with the consent of City Council.
Members shall be appointed for six-year terms, except that, of those first appointed, two shall serve for six years; two shall for four years; and one shall serve for two years. In the event of a vacancy, the Mayor shall, without unnecessary delay, appoint a member to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term, with the advice and consent of Council.
Three members of the Board of Ethics shall constitute a quorum, and the affirmative vote of three members shall be necessary for any action. Members of the Board of Ethics shall serve without compensation.
The Board of Ethics shall elect a Chair annually.
The Board of Ethics will receive necessary resources and staff support as needed.
Confidentiality and due process.
To the extent legally permitted under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act and the Michigan Open Meetings Act, the Board of Ethics shall keep all complaints and requests for advisory opinions confidential.
All persons alleged to have violated this chapter shall be afforded due process of law, including notice, the opportunity to be heard, and the right to representation of their choice. Members of the Board of Ethics or any public servant who has access to any confidential information that is related to the functions or activities of the Board are prohibited from divulging such information to any person who is not authorized to possess the information.
No person making a complaint or requesting an advisory opinion or participating in any proceeding of the Board of Ethics shall be retaliated against in any manner for such participation. Any public servant who witnesses or becomes personally aware of a violation of this chapter shall report that violation within 30 days of discovery of the violation.
All alleged violations of the Code of Ethics should first be reported to the public servant's immediate supervisor. If the immediate supervisor fails to take action within 10 days of his or her receipt of the complaint, or the immediate supervisor is the focus of the complaint, the public servant may bypass his or her immediate supervisor and may file his or her complaint directly with the Board of Ethics. The complaint must be in writing and shall include the following information:
The name and address of the person who files the complaint.
The name and address of the party or parties against whom the complaint is filed.
A clear and concise statement of facts which the complaint is based upon.
A reference to one, or more, provision in the Code of Ethics that has been allegedly violated.
Any further information which might support the allegations in the complaint.
Action on complaint. The Board of Ethics shall acknowledge receipt of the written complaint within 10 business days of receipt of the complaint.
Powers and duties:
The Board shall receive complaints concerning alleged unethical conduct from a pubic servant or from any person or entity.
The Board shall issue written advisory opinions in regard to the interpretation and application of the Code of Ethics. Advisory opinions shall be given upon written request by a public servant or any other person or entity.
Upon receipt of a complaint or request for an advisory opinion, the Board will meet to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction over the subject matter and/or people identified in the request or complaint.
If a complaint concerns a public servant covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the Board shall forward the complaint to the public servant's department head to be determined and processed pursuant to the procedures of the collective bargaining agreement. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to alter collective bargaining agreements. Board actions may include the following: issuing a written advisory opinion; determining that no further action is required; referring the matter to an authority within the City or to a special prosecutor or other government body outside the City which has authority to consider and act on the matter.
If the Board determines that it does not have jurisdiction over the subject matter and/or parties identified in the request or complaint, or that no further action is required, the Board will notify the complainant and the subject of the complaint of its decision.
The Board of Ethics may issue written advisory opinions interpreting the Code of Ethics and relevant provisions of state law applicable to public servants. Advisory opinions shall not disclose the identities of the person or entity making the request for an advisory opinion or the identity of the persons or positions who are the subject of a complaint or inquiry. Advisory opinions shall be issued within 60 days of a request. If additional time is needed, the time may be extended by a majority vote of the Board.
It is anticipated that the issuance of advisory opinions by the Board of Ethics will answer the majority of questions provided and will conclude most matters originating as requests for advice and/or complaints. Advisory opinions are strictly advisory and nonbinding in nature.
When the Board of Ethics issues an advisory opinion, the Board shall send a copy of its advisory opinion to:
A violation of the Code of Ethics shall constitute a municipal civil infraction and shall subject the violator to the civil fine of $250, plus any costs, damages, expenses and other sanctions as authorized under state law. The violator shall also be subject to the provisions so stated in § 1-27E(2), H, I and J of the Code of the City of Monroe.
Violation notices or citations issued for violations of the Code of Ethics shall only be issued by sworn members of the Monroe Police Department or such other individuals designated by ordinance or resolution by the Mayor and City Council.