[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Marion 5-14-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-1. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials and employees be independent, impartial, and responsible to the people; that government decisions and policy be made in proper channels of the governmental structure; that public office not be used for personal gain; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its government. In recognition of these goals, there is hereby established a Code of Ethics for all City of Marion officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, including members of boards, committees, and commissions of the City as well as any individuals who are candidates for elective office as soon as such individuals file nomination papers with the City. The purpose of this code is to establish guidelines for ethical standards of conduct for all such officials and employees by setting forth those acts or actions that are incompatible with the best interests of the City of Marion and by directing disclosure by such officials and employees of private financial or other interests in matters affecting the City. The provisions and purpose of this code and such rules and regulations as may be established are hereby declared to be in the best interests of the City of Marion.
There are certain provisions of the Wisconsin Statutes which should, while not set forth herein, be considered an integral part of any Code of Ethics. Accordingly, the provisions of the following sections of the Wisconsin Statutes are made a part of this Code of Ethics and shall apply to public officials and employees whenever applicable:
Public officials and employees are agents of public purpose and hold office for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this state and to carry out impartially the laws of the nation, state, and municipality and to observe in their official acts the highest standards of morality and to discharge faithfully the duties of their office regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that the public interest must be their prime concern.
All officials and employees of the City of Marion should be loyal to the objectives expressed by the electorate and the programs developed to attain these objectives. Appointed officials and employees should adhere to the rules of work and performance established as the standard for their positions by the appropriate authority.
Officials and employees should not exceed their authority or breach the law or ask others to do so, and they should work in full cooperation with other public officials and employees unless prohibited from so doing by law or by officially recognized confidentiality of their work.
Use of public property. No official or employee shall request or permit the unauthorized use of City-owned vehicles, equipment, materials, or property for personal convenience or profit.
Obligations to citizens. No official or employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment, or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
Financial and personal interest prohibited. No official or employee, whether paid or unpaid, shall engage in any business or transaction or shall act in regard to financial or other personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties in the public interest, contrary to the provisions of this chapter or which would tend to impair independence of judgment or action in the performance of official duties.
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- FINANCIAL INTEREST
- Any interest which shall yield, directly or indirectly, a monetary or other material benefit to the officer or employee or to any person employing or retaining the services of the officer or employee.
- Any person, corporation, partnership, or joint venture.
- PERSONAL INTEREST
- Any interest arising from a blood or marriage relationship or from close business or political associations, whether or not any financial interest is involved.
Specific conflicts enumerated.
Incompatible employment. No official or employee shall engage in or accept private employment or render service for private interest, when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties or would tend to impair independence of judgment or action in the performance of official duties, unless otherwise permitted by law and unless disclosure is made as hereinafter provided.
Disclosure of confidential information. No official or employee shall, without proper legal authorization, disclose confidential information concerning the property, government, or affairs of the City, nor shall such information be used to advance the financial or other private interest of the official or employee or others.
Gifts and favors.
No official or employee shall accept any gift, whether in the form of service, loan, thing, or promise, from any person which may tend to impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her duties or grant in the discharge of his other duties any improper favor, service, or thing of value. Any official who receives, directly or indirectly, any gift or gifts having an aggregate value of more than $50 within any calendar year from any person who is known by said official or employee to be interested, directly or indirectly, in any manner whatsoever in business dealings with the City upon which the official or employee has any influence or input or over which the official or employee has any jurisdiction, discretion, or control shall disclose the nature and value of such gifts to the Common Council by January 20 next following the year in which the gift or gifts are received.
No official or employee may solicit or accept, either directly or indirectly, from any person or organization, money or anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence the employee's official actions or judgment or be considered a reward for any action or inaction on the part of the official or employee.
An official or employee is not to accept hospitality if, after consideration of the surrounding circumstances, it could reasonably be concluded that such hospitality would not be extended were it not for the fact that the guest or a member of the guest's immediate family was a City official or employee. Participation in celebrations, grand openings, open houses, informational meetings, and similar events is excluded from this prohibition. This subsection further shall not be construed to prevent candidates for elective office from accepting hospitality from citizens for the purpose of supporting the candidate's campaign.
Gifts received by an official or employee under unusual circumstances should be referred to the Common Council within 10 days of receipt for recommended disposition.
Representing private interests before City agencies or courts. No officer or employee shall appear on behalf of any private person (other than himself or herself, his or her spouse, or minor children) before any City agency or municipal court. However, members of the Common Council may appear before City agencies on behalf of constituents in the course of their duties as representatives of the electorate or in the performance of public or civic obligations.
No official, employee or agent of this City shall participate in the selection, award, or administration of a contract awarded by the City if a conflict of interest, real or apparent, would be involved. An example of such a conflict prohibited would arise when the official, employee, or agent, any member of his/her immediate family, his/her partner, or an organization which employs or is about to employ any of the above has a financial or other interest in the firm awarded the contract.
Contracts with the City.
No City officer or employee who in his/her capacity as such officer or employee participates in the making of a contract in which he/she has a private pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, or performs in regard to that contract some function requiring the exercise of discretion on his/her part, shall enter into any contract with the City unless, within the confines of § 946.13, Wis. Stats.:
The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the designation of a public depository of public funds.
Disclosure of interest in legislation. Any member of the Common Council who has a financial interest or personal interest in any proposed legislative action of the Common Council or any board, commission, or committee upon which the official or employee has any influence or input or of which the official or employee is a member that is to make a recommendation or decision upon any item which is the subject of the proposed legislative action shall disclose on the records of the Common Council or the appropriate board, commission, or committee the nature and extent of such interest.
Any questions as to the interpretation of any provisions of this Code of Ethics shall be referred to the Common Council, which, if it deems necessary or appropriate, may request an advisory opinion from the City Attorney.
The Common Council shall have administrative jurisdiction over this Code of Ethics and shall be deemed the Ethics Committee for that purpose.
The Council may make recommendations with respect to amendments to this Code of Ethics.
Upon the sworn complaint of any person alleging facts which, if true, would constitute improper conduct under the provisions of this chapter, the Council shall conduct an investigation of the facts of the complaint; if the investigation indicates there may be a reasonable basis for the complaint justifying further investigation, the Council shall conduct a public hearing in accordance with the common law requirements of due process, including notice, an opportunity to be heard, an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and to present testimony and other evidence in support of the accused's position and an opportunity to be represented by counsel or other representative at the expense of the accused. The Council shall make written findings of fact and issue a written decision concerning the propriety of the conduct of the subject official or employee and determine final disposition.
In the event that a member of the Council is allegedly involved in an Ethics Code violation, the Mayor, subject to the confirmation of the Common Council, shall appoint temporarily a person to conduct the investigation and hearing.
In the event that an employee covered under a collective bargaining agreement is allegedly involved in an Ethics Code violation, the terms and conditions set forth in the applicable collective bargaining agreement shall prevail in the administration and interpretation of this Ethics Code.
A determination that an official's or employee's actions constitute improper conduct under the provisions of this chapter may constitute a cause for suspension, removal from office or employment, or other disciplinary action. Sanctions, including any disciplinary action, that may affect employees covered under a labor agreement will be consistent with the terms and conditions set forth in the applicable labor agreement.
The City Clerk-Treasurer shall cause a copy of this Code of Ethics to be distributed to every public official and employee of the City of Marion within 30 days after enactment of this code. Each public official and employee elected, appointed or engaged thereafter shall be furnished a copy before entering upon his or her duties.
Each public official, the Mayor, the City Alderpersons, and, through the City Clerk-Treasurer, the head of each board, commission or committee shall, between May 1 and May 31 of each year, review the provisions of this code with his or her fellow Council, board, commission, or committee members and advise the City Clerk-Treasurer by June 15 that such annual review has been undertaken. A copy of this code shall be continuously available to all of the above personnel.