Town of Newington, CT
Hartford County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Newington 9-22-1987 (§§ 2-41 to 2-54 of the 1974 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Boards, committees, commissions and bureaus — See Ch. 8.
Personnel — See Ch. 85.
The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials, employees and other persons involved in the governmental process and in the services rendered by government be independent, impartial and responsible to the people; that government decisions and policy be made in the 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 this Code of Ethics is established with the purpose of setting forth guidelines, standards and limitations consistent with the best interests of the Town.
[Amended 10-23-1991; 10-28-1997 by Ord. No. 9597-13]
As used in this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings:
BUSINESS ENTITY
Any business, proprietorship, firm, partnership, person in representative or fiduciary capacity, association, venture, trust or corporation.
COMPLAINANT
Any person who files a complaint pursuant to § 32-11G of this chapter. After a finding of probable cause, the Board of Ethics shall become the complainant.
EMPLOYEE
Any person receiving a salary or wages from the Town or Board of Education for services rendered, whether full-time or part-time.
INTEREST
Direct or indirect pecuniary or material benefit accruing to a public official or employee as result of a contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of an official act or action by or with the Town, except for such contracts or transactions which by their terms and by the substance of their provisions confer the opportunity and right to realize the accrual of similar benefits to all other persons and/or property similarly situated. For the purposes of this chapter, a public official or employee shall be deemed to have an interest in the affairs of:
A. 
Any person related to him by blood or marriage in a degree closer than the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity (determined by the civil law method);
B. 
Any person or business entity with whom a contractual relationship exists with the public official or employee or member of his or her immediate family;
C. 
Any business entity in which the public official or employee is an officer, director or member having a financial interest in or employed by;
D. 
Any business entity in which the stock of, or legal or beneficial ownership of, in excess of 5% of the total stock or total legal and beneficial ownership, is controlled or owned directly or indirectly by the public official or employee.
OFFICIAL ACT OR ACTION
Any legislative, administrative, appointive or discretionary act of any public official or employee of the Town or any agency, board, committee or commission thereof.
POLITICAL PARTY TOWN COMMITTEE OFFICER
The chairman, vice chairman, treasurer or secretary (or comparable titles) of any organized political party Town committee.
PUBLIC OFFICIAL
Any person holding elective or appointive office in the government of the Town, and shall include, but not be limited to, the Town Treasurer, the Town Attorney, members and alternate members, if any, of the Town Council, the Board of Education, the Board of Fire Commissioners, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, committees appointed to oversee the construction or improvement of Town facilities, or any other board, commission or agency.
RESPONDENT
Any public official or employee against whom a complaint has been filed pursuant to § 32-11G of this chapter.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
A. 
Generally. Public officials and employees have a special responsibility by virtue of the trust invested in them by the Town's residents to discharge their duties conscientiously, impartially, and to the best of their ability, placing the good of the Town above any personal or partisan considerations.
B. 
Official conduct. Public officials and employees shall be guided in the discharge of their duties by the following considerations:
(1) 
Public officials and employees have an obligation to act morally and honestly in discharging all assigned responsibilities.
(2) 
Public officials and employees will conduct themselves with propriety, discharge their duties impartially and fairly, and make continuing efforts toward attaining and maintaining high standards of performance.
(3) 
Individuals who consent to serve on Town boards or commissions are expected to devote the necessary time and effort to these commitments.
(4) 
Public officials or employees shall not use, or attempt to use, either directly or indirectly, their Town positions to secure any preferential right, benefit, advantage or privilege for themselves or for others, including without limitation anyone related to their occupations or sources of income.
(5) 
Should a public official or employee be requested or ordered to perform an illegal or unethical act or an act that conflicts with this Code of Ethics, that individual should be guided by standards of morality rather than by standards of expediency and should refuse to comply with such a request or order. This principle is not to be construed as encouraging arbitrary or capricious nonconformity with job assignments but to ensure that all public officials and employees recognize that the responsibility for ethical conduct ultimately rests with each individual.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
Public officials and employees often have access to vehicles, equipment, supplies, property, labor and other Town resources in connection with the conduct of their official business. Since there may be instances where the distinction between the use of such resources for official purposes and for personal conveniences or advantage may be ambiguous, it is incumbent upon all such individuals to make absolutely certain that there be no misuse of public property.
A. 
Town property. Town-owned vehicles, equipment, supplies, property, labor and other Town resources will be used only for the conduct of official business in accordance with administrative duties as ordained by Town policy.
B. 
Travel reimbursement. Requests for Town reimbursement for travel, lodgings or any other expenses incurred in connection with official business shall be in accordance with administrative direction as ordained by established Town policy.
[Amended 7-21-1988; 10-23-1991]
Public officials and employees often have occupations, professions, businesses, or have financial or personal interests that interface with Town government operations. It is expected that public officials and employees will be acutely sensitive to possible conflict of interest issues and that they will conduct themselves in a manner that will scrupulously avoid any conflict of interest.
A. 
Personal gain. Public officials and employees shall not use their office or Town employment or special knowledge about Town affairs obtained in connection with their office or position in the Town to procure contracts with the Town. They shall not disseminate this information to another person for personal advantage unless this information is available to the general public.
B. 
Preferential treatment. Public officials and employees shall not offer or render preferential treatment to others on the basis of such factors as family ties, financial interests, or other personal interests.
C. 
Contracts. Public officials and employees shall not offer or render preferential treatment to others in regard to Town contracts on the basis of such factors as family ties, financial interests or other personal interests.
D. 
Undue influence. Public officials and employees shall refrain from attempting to influence anyone concerning the awarding of Town contracts on the basis of such factors as family ties, financial interests or other personal interests.
E. 
Financial interest. A public official or employee who has any financial or other private interest in any official action under consideration shall disqualify himself or herself from participating in the deliberation and decisionmaking thereupon.
F. 
Appointment. No employee of the Town shall be appointed to any board, commission or other Town body that deliberates and/or makes decisions directly or indirectly affecting that employee's remuneration or working conditions.
G. 
Disclosure of interest. Any elected or appointed Town public officials or any Town employees who have a personal or financial interest in any matter to be acted upon or coming before their board, commission or office shall make full record disclosure in writing of that interest, which shall be incorporated in the minutes of the particular board, commission or office, and a full copy of such minutes shall be filed as required by the freedom of information laws of the State of Connecticut,[1] and such person shall be disqualified to act in any way upon such matter. Violation of this section with knowledge, expressed or implied, will make said decision voidable.
[1]
Editor's Note: See C.G.S. § 1-200 et seq.
H. 
Personal interest. Any person having cause to believe that a public official or employee has a personal interest in any matter which is coming before or which has been before that public official or employee in that individual's capacity as such public official or employee which is incompatible with the proper discharge of said individual's official duties, or that there has been a violation of any provision of this chapter, may make this known to the Board of Ethics.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
A. 
Confidential information. No public officials or employees shall, without prior formal authorization of the public body having jurisdiction, disclose any confidential information or divulge personal matters pertaining to others that do not bear upon the public official's or employee's discharge of official duties. It is understood that requests for public information be disclosed or withheld in accordance with the state regulations on freedom of information.
B. 
Personal gain. Whether or not it shall involve disclosure, no public officials or employees shall use or permit the use of confidential information to advance their financial or personal interest or to advance or to damage the financial or personal interest of any other person.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
A. 
Acceptance of gifts. No public officials or employees shall solicit any gift, or accept any gift having more than a twenty-five-dollar value, from any person, firm or corporation which, to their knowledge, is interested directly or indirectly in any manner whatsoever in business dealings with the Town or is interested in any matter which is pending or to be presented before the Council or any board, commission or agency of the Town.
B. 
Public occasions. Section 32-7, pertaining to acceptance of gifts, does not preclude the acceptance of gifts at the time of retirement or at public occasions held to honor a public official or employee. The public honoring of an individual makes gifts appropriate and acceptable.
C. 
Turnover of gifts. If it is impossible or inappropriate to refuse a gift or offering, then it shall be turned over to the Town Manager or Superintendent of Schools or charitable institution. If turned over to a charitable institution, it shall be reported to the Town Manager, or the Superintendent of Schools if an employee of the Board of Education, in writing.
D. 
Campaign contributions. The provisions of this section shall be inoperative for contributions made to candidates for elected office in the Town or to solicitations for such contributions. Contributions of this sort shall be governed by C.G.S. § 9-600 et seq.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. III).
E. 
Courtesy. The courtesies that are associated with the daily business routine are allowed. Such contributions should be of a reasonable nature.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
A. 
Outside services. No public officials or employees shall engage in or accept private or other public employment or render services for private interests when such employment or services are incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties or would tend to impair independence of judgment or action in the performance of Town duties.
B. 
Disqualifications. Public officials and employees shall disqualify themselves from all discussions, attempts at influencing the views of others, and decisionmaking with respect to any issue in which their employment may conflict with their Town position.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
A. 
Discharge of duties. Public officials and employees shall not allow partisan political activities to interfere with the proper discharge of their duties.
B. 
Participation in political activities. No public officials or employees shall be ordered to participate in political activities.
[Amended 7-21-1988; 10-23-1991]
A. 
Purpose. The disclosure by Town public officials of specified holdings and associations seeks to deter unethical conduct by giving the public access to information about areas of potential conflict of interest. The very disclosure of outside interests will increase public confidence in government by dispelling possible suspicion.
B. 
Specific principle. All elected public officials, appointed members of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Development Commission, Standing Insurance Committee, Conservation Commission, Town Manager and Town Attorney shall file with the Town Clerk a listing of real estate holdings, whether they have any or not, partially or wholly owned, which are located within or partially within the Town, and the identity of any business associations or interests which may impinge on Town affairs, within 30 days of election or appointment. Any change in these holdings or business associations must be filed within 30 days of such change. Ownership of the public official's or employee's primary residence need not be included in the disclosure. The information filed with the Town Clerk will be available to the public.
[Amended 7-21-1988; 10-23-1991; 10-28-1997 by Ord. No. 9597-13]
A. 
Membership.[1]
(1) 
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics which shall consist of seven members consisting of two Democrats, two Republicans, and three unaffiliated or other party persons appointed by the Town Council for terms of four years. Four members shall be appointed for terms expiring on November 30 in an even-numbered year, and three members shall be appointed for a term expiring on November 30 in an odd-numbered year.
(2) 
There shall be two alternate members of the Board of Ethics. One alternate shall be appointed for a term expiring on November 30 in an even-numbered year, and one alternate shall be appointed for a term expiring on November 30 in an odd-numbered year. All alternates shall be appointed for a period of four years.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. III).
B. 
Eligibility.
(1) 
No member of said Board shall hold or campaign for any public office, be a public official, or be a political party Town committee officer, as defined in § 32-2.
(2) 
A member or an alternate member who within the last three years prior to receipt of a complaint shall have held public office or was a candidate for public office for the board or committee or commission involved in that complaint shall not participate in the investigation or hearing of that complaint.
C. 
Vacancy. Any vacancy on the Board shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term appointed by the Town Council. An individual selected to fill the vacancy shall be eligible for appointment thereafter.
D. 
Chairperson; quorum; calling meetings. The Board shall elect its own Chairperson who shall preside at meetings of the Board and a Vice Chairperson to preside in the absence of the Chairperson. Four members of the Board shall constitute a quorum, and four votes of the Board shall be required for action of the Board. The Chairperson or any three members may call a meeting.
E. 
Powers and duties. The Board shall have all duties provided within this article and shall have the authority to recommend action to the Town Council, the Town Manager, the Board of Education or the Superintendent of Schools.
F. 
Duties of Board regarding reports and memoranda. The Board shall:
(1) 
Preserve memoranda and statements and reports filed by and with the Board for a period of five years from the date of receipt;
(2) 
Report annually, prior to December 31, to the Town Council summarizing the activities of the Board.
G. 
Complaint procedure and time limits; notice of investigation; hearings; attorneys' fees; damages for complaints without foundation.
(1) 
Complaint. Upon receipt of a written complaint from any person on a form prescribed by the Board, signed under penalty of false statement, the Board shall notify the complainant, by registered or certified mail, of the receipt of the complaint within five days of receiving said complaint. Within 15 business days of receipt of the written complaint, the Board shall meet to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. If the Board, by a vote of four members, determines that the complaint does not merit investigation, the complaint shall be dismissed and notice of dismissal shall be mailed, registered or certified mail, to the complainant within five business days.
(2) 
Investigation.
(a) 
If the Board finds that the complaint has sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry, the Board shall notify within five business days, by registered or certified mail, the complainant and any respondent against whom such complaint is filed. A copy of such complaint shall accompany such notice.
(b) 
The Board shall have the power to hold hearings, administer oaths, examine witnesses, receive oral and documentary evidence, subpoena witnesses under procedural rules adopted by the Board to compel attendance before the Board and to require the production for examination by the Board of any books and papers which the Board deems relevant in any matter under investigation or in question. In the exercise of such powers, the Board may use the services of the local police, who shall provide the same upon the Board's request. In the event of a hearing during the investigation, the complainant and the respondent shall have the following rights:
[1] 
To appear before the Board and be heard;
[2] 
To be represented by legal counsel; and
[3] 
To examine and cross-examine witnesses.
(c) 
In addition, any witness appearing before the Board shall have the right to be represented by legal counsel.
(d) 
The Board shall make no finding that there is probable cause to believe the respondent is in violation of any provision of this chapter except upon the concurring vote of four of its members.
(3) 
Post-probable-cause hearing.
(a) 
After its investigation, the Board shall notify the respondent and the complainant within three business days of the termination of its investigation of its finding and a summary of its reasons for making that finding. If the Board finds that probable cause of a violation exists, it shall make public its finding no later than five business days after the termination of its investigation, and at said time the entire record of the investigation shall become public. The Board may postpone examination or release of such records for 14 days after termination of its investigation for the purpose of reaching a stipulation agreement pursuant to C.G.S. § 4-177(c). Thereafter the Board shall initiate public hearings to determine whether there has been a violation of this chapter. At such hearing, the Board shall have the same powers as under Subsection G(2) of this section. The respondent shall have the right to be represented by legal counsel, the right to compel attendance of witnesses and the production of books, documents, records and papers and to examine and cross-examine witnesses. In addition, any witness appearing before the Board shall have the right to be represented by legal counsel.
(b) 
The Board shall make a record of all proceedings pursuant to this subsection. The Board shall find no person in violation of any provision of this chapter except upon the concurring vote of four of its members.
(c) 
If the Board finds after a hearing pursuant to this section that a public official or Town employee has not violated a provision of the chapter, the Board shall dismiss the case. The Board shall notify the respondent and the person who signed the written complaint pursuant to Subsection G(1) of this section of its decision within 15 business days.
(4) 
If any complaint brought under the provisions of this chapter is made with the knowledge that it is made without foundation in fact, the respondent shall have a cause of action against the complainant who signed the written complaint pursuant to Subsection G(1) of this section for damages caused thereby, and if the respondent prevails in such action, he may be awarded by the court the costs of such action together with reasonable attorney's fees.
(5) 
Complaints must be made under this section within one year after the violation alleged in the complaint has been committed.
[Added 10-23-1991]
A. 
All proceedings up to the finding of probable cause, including the complaint alleging a violation, the Board's evaluation of a possible violation, any information supplied to or received from the Board and any investigation conducted prior to a probable cause finding shall remain confidential except upon the request of the respondent. No part of the confidential complaint, the aforesaid information or the aforesaid investigation shall be disclosed to any third party by the respondent, complainant, any person contacted for the purpose of obtaining information, legal counsel, witness, designated party, board or staff member, unless said confidentiality had been waived by the respondent.
B. 
If the Board makes a finding of no probable cause, the complaint and the record of its investigation shall remain confidential, except upon the request of the respondent, in which case the Board shall publish its finding and may also publish a summary of its reasons for making such finding, and except that some or all of the record may be used in subsequent proceedings. No complainant, respondent, or witness, designated party, or commission or staff member shall disclose to any third party any information learned from the investigation, including knowledge of the existence of a complaint, which the disclosing party would not otherwise have known. If such a disclosure is made, the Board may, after consultation with the respondent if the respondent is not the source of the disclosure, publish its finding and a summary of its reasons therefor.
C. 
If the Board makes a finding of probable cause, the Board shall make public its finding as set forth in § 32-11G(3) of this chapter.
D. 
Not later than 15 days after the post-probable-cause hearing conducted in accordance with § 32-11G(3) to determine whether there has been a violation of this chapter, the Board shall publish its finding and a memorandum of its reasons therefor.
[Amended 10-23-1991]
Upon finding a respondent in violation of this chapter, the Board shall, within 15 business days of the post-probable-cause hearing, advise the Town Council in the event the respondent is a board, commission or committee member or an appointed public official, or advise the Town Manager in the event the respondent is a Town employee, or the Superintendent of Schools in the event the respondent is a school system employee, or the Board of Education in the event the respondent is an employee appointed by the Board of Education, as to the Board's finding and its recommended disciplinary action. In the case of a Town or Board of Education employee, the Board shall be consistent in its recommendations with all personnel rules and regulations and all bargaining unit agreements.
[Amended 7-21-1988; 10-23-1991]
The Board shall adopt and promulgate reasonable rules and regulations not in conflict with this chapter for the administration of this Code of Ethics.