[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of New Berlin 10-10-2000 by Ord. No. 2124 as Sec. 1.15 of the Municipal Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people; government decisions and policy be made in the proper channels of the government structure; public office not be used for personal gain; and 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 officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, including members of boards, committees and commissions of the city. The purpose of this chapter 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 and by directing disclosures by such officials and employees of private financial or other interests in matters affecting the city. The City Council recognizes that the representatives of the City are drawn from society and, therefore, cannot and should not be without all personal and economic interest in the decisions and policies of government; that citizens who serve as City officials and employees retain their rights as citizens to interest of a personal and economic nature; that the standards of ethical conduct for City officials and employees need to distinguish between those minor and inconsequential conflicts that are unavoidable in a free society and those conflicts which are substantial and material; and that City officials and employees may need to engage in employment, professional or business activities other than official duties in order to support themselves or their families and to maintain a continuity of professional or business activity or may need to maintain investments, which activities or investments do not conflict with the specific provisions of this chapter. The provisions and purpose of this chapter and such rules and regulations as may be established are hereby declared to be in the best public interest.
It is the intent of the City Council that, in its operations, the Board of Ethics shall protect to the fullest extent the rights of individuals affected.
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 chapter and shall apply to public officers and public 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 thus to foster respect of all government. They are bound 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 primary concern.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ANYTHING OF VALUE or THING OF VALUE
- Any money or property, favor, service, payment, advance, forbearance, loan or promise of future employment, but does not include compensation and expenses paid by the state, fees, honorariums and expenses which are permitted and reported under § 19.56, Wis. Stats., and political contributions which are reported under Chapter 11, Wis. Stats.
- Includes all full-time and part-time employees of the city.
- FINANCIAL INTEREST
- Any interest which shall yield directly or indirectly a monetary or other material benefit to the official or employee or to any person employing or retaining service of the official or employee.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- Spouse and children living at home.
- Any person, corporation, partnership or joint venture.
- PUBLIC OFFICIAL
- Includes all of those officers set forth at § 62.09(1), Wis. Stats., as well as all department heads, but shall not include the Municipal Judge and City Attorney, who are already subject to stringent codes of professional responsibility and ethics. If the Weed Commissioner is a full-time City employee, the Ethics Code shall not apply to such City employee only to the extent of his serving as the Weed Commissioner, but shall apply to such employee in all other respects. Public official shall not include any individual, his company, firm or business or any of its employees or members whose relationship with the City is created by contract.
- SEASONAL EMPLOYEE
- Employees hired to work a specific period of time or to work on a specific project or program with employment to terminate upon completion of the project or program.
Asking for or receiving anything of value. No official or employee shall ask for or accept anything from any source which may tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties. If an official or an employee receives anything from an unknown or anonymous source and has a question as to its appropriateness, the official or employee shall request an advisory opinion from the Ethics Board pursuant to § 28-7B of this chapter so as to avoid the appearance of impropriety. It is not a conflict of interest for any public employee or public official to receive from an individual person a gift or gratuity that is an unsolicited item or items.
Engaging in certain business or transaction when incompatible with discharge of duties. No public official or employee shall engage in any business or transaction or shall act in regard to any financial interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties for the benefit of the public, contrary to the provisions of this chapter or which tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties. This subsection is not intended to interfere with public officials or employees having duties or employment in addition to those related to the city, provided those duties or employment do not cause violations of this chapter.
Engaging in or accepting private employment when incompatible with discharge of duties. No public official 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 his official duties or would tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties unless otherwise permitted by law, unless disclosure is made as hereinafter provided.
Entering into contract with the city. No public official or employee and no business in which a City official or employee holds a 10% or greater interest may enter into a contract with the city. Unpaid members of City boards and commissions may enter into a contract or contracts with the City involving a payment or payments of not more than $3,000 within a twelve-month period if such board or commission member has first made a written disclosure of the nature and extent of such proposed contract to the board and the department acting for the City in regard to such proposed contract or contracts. This section does not affect the application of § 946.13, Wis. Stats.
Disclosing confidential information. No official or employee shall disclose confidential information concerning the property, government or affairs of this City nor shall he use such information to advance the financial or other private interest of himself or any other person.
Disclosure of interest.
In legislation. Any member of the City Council who has a financial interest in any proposed legislation before the City Council shall disclose on the records of the City Council the nature and extent of such interest prior to or during the initial discussion on such legislation. Mere status as a taxpayer shall not be considered a "financial interest." Any other official or employee who has a financial interest in any proposed legislative action of the City Council and who participates in discussion with or gives an official opinion or recommendation to the City Council shall disclose on the records of the City Council the nature and extent of such interest.
All public officials, City employees and citizen members of boards and commissions shall file with the Director of Human Resources the Code of Ethics Statement which is incorporated by reference. Public officials and citizen members will complete the form within 60 days of appointment or election, and thereafter upon reappointment or reelection. All City employees will complete the form within two weeks of their employment and thereafter every three years beginning in January 2000 with returning seasonal employees completing the form within two weeks of rehire.
There is hereby created an Ethics Board consisting of three members and one alternate, all of whom shall serve without compensation. The members of the Board of Ethics shall be residents of the City and shall not be elected officials, full-time appointed officials, City employees nor shall they be currently serving on any other City board, committee or commission. The City Attorney shall furnish the Board whatever legal assistance necessary in carrying out its functions. Terms of office shall be three years, except that when the initial appointments are made, one member shall be appointed for one year, one for two years and one for three years. The alternate shall serve on the Board when one of the members of the Board is unavailable. The term of the alternate shall be for three years. The Ethics Board shall elect its own Chairman.
One member shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, one member by the President of the City Council and one by the Mayor. The alternate shall be elected by the appointed members of the Board. The initial term of the appointment made by the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission shall be one year, by the President of the City Council two years and by the Mayor three years.
The Ethics Board may adopt and develop written rules which shall be submitted to the City Council for approval. A copy of such rules shall be filed with the City Clerk. The Ethics Board shall select one of its members as a Chairman and a Secretary who need not be a member.
Any person to whom this chapter applies may apply to the Ethics Board for an advisory opinion and shall be guided by the opinion rendered. Such person shall have the opportunity to present his interpretation of the facts at issue and of the applicability of provisions of this chapter before the advisory decision is rendered. The Board's deliberations and action upon such applications shall be in meetings not open to the public. Records of the Board's opinions, opinion requests and investigations of violations shall be closed to public inspection. The Board, however, may choose to make such records public, but only with the consent of the individual requesting the advisory opinion.
The Board shall investigate any complaint properly filed with it.
The Board shall accept from any person or make upon its own motion a verified complaint in writing which shall state the name of the official or employee alleged to have committed a violation of this chapter and which shall set forth the particulars thereof. The Board shall forward within 10 days a copy of the complaint to the official or employee who is accused. If no action on the verified complaint is taken by the Board within 60 days, the complaint shall be void.
Following the receipt or motion of a verified complaint, the Board may make preliminary investigations with respect to alleged violation of this chapter. No preliminary investigation of the activities of any official or employee may be initiated, unless such official or employee is notified in writing. The notice shall state the exact nature and purpose of the investigation, the individual's specific actions or activities to be investigated and a statement of such person's due process rights including, but not limited to, the right to appear before the Board to fairly, but concisely, respond to the results of the preliminary investigation.
If after such investigation the Board finds that probable cause exists for believing the allegations of the complaint, it shall conduct a hearing on the matter which shall be held not more than 30 days after such finding. The Board shall give the accused at least 20 days' notice of the hearing date. Such hearings shall be at open session, unless the accused petitions for a hearing closed to the public. The rules of criminal evidence shall apply to such hearings. All evidence, including certified copies of records and documents which the Board considers, shall be fully offered and made part of the record in the case. Every party shall be afforded adequate opportunity to rebut or offer countervailing evidence.
During all stages of any investigation or proceeding conducted under this subsection, the accused or any person whose activities are under investigation shall be entitled to be represented by counsel of his own choosing.
The accused or his representative shall have an adequate opportunity to examine all documents and records to be used at the hearing under Subsection F at a reasonable time before the date of the hearing as well as during the hearing, to bring witnesses, establish all pertinent facts and circumstances and question or refute any testimony or evidence, including opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses.
The Board shall have the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and to issue subpoenas granted other boards and commissions under § 885.01(3), Wis. Stats.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, the Board shall file its decision within five days in writing signed by all participating Board members with findings of fact, conclusions of law concerning the propriety of the conduct of the official or employee and, if appropriate, refer the matter to the City Council, Civil Service Commission or other proper authority for its consideration.
This code shall be operative in all instances covered by its provisions, except as follows:
All employees of the City of New Berlin Police Department and the City of New Berlin Fire Department shall be governed by the Department's code of conduct as set by the Chief as well as any rules and regulations as set by the City of New Berlin Police and Fire Commission when more restrictive than the Code.
[Amended 7-22-2003 by Ord. No. 2208]
When superseded by an applicable statutory provision and statutory action is mandatory, or when the application of a statutory provision is discretionary, but determined by the Ethics Board to be more appropriate or desirable.