[HISTORY: Adopted by the Commissioners of the Town of Dewey Beach 7-8-2005 by Ord. No. 543. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Personnel policies — See Ch. 29.
Editor's Note: This ordinance repealed the former Code of Conduct adopted 4-12-2003 by Ord. No. 489.
This chapter shall be known as "the Town of Dewey Beach Code of Conduct."
This chapter shall be applicable to all elected officials, candidates for elected office, appointed officials, and employees of the Town of Dewey Beach.
It is the purpose of this chapter to ensure the propriety and the preservation of public confidence in the officials and employees of the Town of Dewey Beach and to establish ethical standards for those officials and employees which will protect the integrity of the government of the Town of Dewey Beach.
The following standards of conduct shall be applicable to all officials, whether elected or appointed, and all employees of the Town:
No official or employee shall participate on behalf of the Town in the review or disposition of any matter pending before the Town or before a committee or commission thereof in which the official or employee has a personal or private interest; provided, however, that the prohibition set forth herein shall not apply if the person who has official responsibility with respect to the matter requests any person who has a personal or private interest to respond to questions concerning any such matter.
No official or employee shall use his position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others whether for compensation or gratuity.
No official or employee shall solicit, demand, accept or agree to accept from another person anything of a pecuniary value for or because of any official action taken or to be taken or which could be taken or any legal duty to be performed or which could be performed by such official or employee.
No officer or employee, in the course of his/her public responsibilities, shall use the granting of sexual favors as a condition, either explicit or implicit, for any individual's favorable treatment by the Town.
In any matter in which an official or employee has a personal or private interest as defined in this § 10-2 of this chapter and there is opportunity for the official or employee to delegate responsibility in the matter to another person and/or abstain from acting, the official or employee shall announce the issue to the Town Manager, or in the case of the Town Manager, Town Commissioner or appointed official, the official shall announce the issue to the Town Commissioners or the commission or board upon which the official serves, and thereafter delegate responsibility in the matter to another person and/or abstain from acting in the matter.
In any matter in which an official or employee has a personal or private interest as defined in this chapter and there is no opportunity or provision for the official or employee to delegate responsibility in the matter to another person and/or abstain from acting, the official or employee shall announce the issue to Town Manager or, in the case of the Town Manager, Town Commissioner or appointed official, the official shall announce the issue to the Town Commissioners or the commission or board upon which the official serves, fully disclose the personal or private interest and explain why it is not possible to delegate responsibility for the matter to another person or to abstain from acting in the matter.
No official or employee shall acquire a financial interest in any private enterprise which such official or employee has reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made by such official or employee in an official capacity on behalf of the Town.
No official or employee shall use such employment or public office to secure special privileges, private advancement or gain for himself or herself or for related persons.
No official or employee shall, beyond the scope of such public office or employment, disclose confidential information gained by reason of such public office or employment nor shall such official or employee use such information for personal gain or benefit, unless such information is requested to be disclosed in accordance with and is properly discoverable pursuant to the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, 29 Delaware Code, Section 10001 et seq.
No official or employee shall create or cause unwarranted interference with police officials or with civil regulatory investigations or criminal investigations.
Every Town official and employee, who has not already done so, shall be required to truthfully complete, execute and file with the Town Manager's office a Financial Disclosure Report within 30 days after the adoption of this chapter. Every candidate for an elected office and applicant for employment with the Town shall be required to truthfully complete, execute and file with the Town Manager's office a Financial Disclosure Report at the time of filing for candidacy or employment. Town officials and employees shall update the Financial Disclosure Report whenever the information concerning the official's or employee's financial status changes. It shall be the responsibility of the Town Manager to acquire proper submissions of the report and to maintain said reports. The reports shall be subject to the public records disclosure requirements of 29 Del. C. § 10003. The Town Manager shall report to the Board of Ethics any failure to file a Financial Disclosure Report or any perceived noncompliance with this section. The Board may take action in accordance with § 10-6G and any other applicable section of this Code.
The Town shall not make or enter into any contract in excess of $2,000 for materials, supplies, work or labor for the benefit and use of the Town with any official or employee of the Town or with any partnership in which any official or employee is a general partner or in any corporation in which any official or employee is a director or controlling stockholder or with any firm or company in which any official or employee is pecuniarily interested unless a majority of all of the elected members of the Town Commission, other than the interested official or employee, vote to execute such contract. Any such contract executed without such unanimous vote and consent shall be absolutely null and void.
Any person being awarded a contract with the Town in excess of $2,000 shall execute such documents as may be required by the Town and shall represent that no person has been retained to solicit or secure the contract with the Town upon an agreement or understanding for a commission, percentage, brokerage or contingent fee, excepting for bona fide employees or bona fide established commercial agencies maintained by the person representing the contracting party for the purpose of securing business.
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics for the Town of Dewey Beach consisting of five members, all of whom shall be persons registered to vote in Town of Dewey Beach municipal elections and at least three of whom shall be residents of the Town, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by a majority vote of all the elected Commissioners of the Town of Dewey Beach, Neither the Mayor nor any member of the Town Commissioners nor any employee of the Town shall be a member of the Board of Ethics.
Each member of the Board of Ethics shall be appointed for a term of three years; except, however, that when the Board was originally appointed, one member shall be appointed for a term of one year; two members for a term of two years; and two members for a term of three years. Each member shall be eligible for reappointment and may be removed from office during the term thereof for neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or for a violation of this chapter.
The Board shall elect from among its own number a Chairperson and a Secretary, each of whom shall serve for a period of one year or until his/her respective successors have been duly elected and qualified. Any vacancy among the members of the Board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term.
The Board shall meet upon the call of its Chairperson or upon a written request by a majority of the members of the Board. The Board shall adopt rules for the conduct of its meetings and for the holding of hearings. A majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business; provided, however, that the affirmative vote of three members is required for the conduct of any disciplinary hearing or for the imposing of any sanctions.
The Chairperson shall preside at all meetings. The Secretary shall maintain the books and records of the Board and shall keep and maintain a complete set of minutes of all meetings and hearings conducted by the Board.
All complaints received by the Board concerning an alleged violation of this chapter must state a specific alleged violation of the provisions of this chapter, and if the complaint fails to state a violation with such specificity, the Chairperson shall dismiss the complaint without action by the Board. All proceedings before the Board concerning such allegations shall be confidential, and confidentiality of all such complaints and proceedings, including the disposition thereof, shall be maintained unless public disclosure is requested, in writing, by the official or employee whose conduct is the subject of the complaint or hearing or the Board determines, after a hearing, that a violation has occurred.
It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Board of Ethics to administer and implement the provisions of this chapter. To that extent, the Board of Ethics may:
Recommend to the Town Commissioners from time to time such rules of conduct for officials and employees of the Town as it shall deem appropriate, including provisions and amendments to this chapter.
Hear and investigate complaints and transmit findings to the Town Commissioners or the Town Manager.
Issue written advisory opinions upon the request of any Town official or employee concerning the applicability of this chapter to any particular factual situation.
Refer to the Town Solicitor for investigation any alleged violation of this chapter and, after notice and hearing, recommend by resolution such disciplinary action as it may deem appropriate to the Town Commissioners. The Board of Ethics may also dismiss, without referral to the Town Solicitor, any complaint which the Board of Ethics determines is frivolous or fails to state a violation.
Maintain a file of its proceedings, decisions and advisory opinions with a view toward achieving consistency in its opinions and to issue recommendations subject to the confidentiality requirements of this chapter.
Any person who, while a member of the Board of Ethics, becomes a candidate for the office of Mayor or Commissioner shall be disqualified from sitting on any complaint received by the Board of Ethics while such person is a candidate.
Upon the sworn complaint of any person or on its own initiative, the Board of Ethics may refer to the Town Solicitor for investigation any alleged violation of this chapter. The Town Solicitor shall be the hearing officer in all disciplinary proceedings before the Board. In any such investigation or proceeding, the defendant shall be given an opportunity to be heard after notice, to be advised and assisted by legal counsel, to procure witnesses and offer evidence and to cross-examine witnesses. The complainant shall appear and present evidence regarding the allegation. A transcript of any such proceeding shall be made and retained, subject to the confidentiality requirements of this chapter.
A member of the Board of Ethics shall not participate as a member of the Board in any proceeding relating to his or her conduct. A member of the Board who has been found by the Board to have violated this chapter shall be ineligible to serve as a member of the Board.
A member of the Board of Ethics may disqualify himself or herself from participating in any investigation of the conduct of any person upon submission in writing and under oath of an affidavit of disqualification stating that he/she cannot render an impartial and unbiased decision in a case in which he/she seeks to disqualify himself/herself.
With respect to any violation with which a person has been charged and which the Board of Ethics has determined is proved, the Board of Ethics may take any one or more of the following actions:
Issue a written reprimand or censure of that person's conduct.
With respect to any municipal employee or municipal officer, other than an elected official, recommend to the Town Manager the removal, suspension, demotion or other appropriate disciplinary action with respect to that person in accordance with the Town of Dewey Beach Municipal Code, the Town of Dewey Beach Employee Policy Manual, and appropriate laws of the State of Delaware and the United States.
With respect to an elected official of the Town, recommend to the Town Commissioners that appropriate action be taken, including a recommendation of removal of the official from office.
In any proceeding before the Board of Ethics, upon the request of any person charged with the violation of this chapter, such person shall be permitted to inspect, copy or photograph books, papers, documents, photographs or other tangible evidence which may be used as evidence against that person in a disciplinary hearing and which are material to the preparation of his defense.
In any proceeding before the Board of Ethics, if the Town Solicitor or the Board at any time receives any exculpatory information respecting an alleged violation against any person, it shall forthwith make such information available to such person.
Any person charged with a violation of this chapter may apply to the Board for the issuance of subpoenas for the appearance of witnesses and for the production of documents on his/her behalf. The application shall be granted upon a concise showing by such person that the proposed testimony or evidence is relevant or is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence and is not otherwise available. The application shall be denied if not made at a reasonable time or if the testimony or evidence would be merely cumulative.
The adoption of this code is not intended to exempt the Town, its employees, officers and officials from the provisions of Chapter 58, Title 29, Delaware Code, entitled "Laws Regulating the Conduct of Officers and Employees of the State," or to exempt the Town, its employees, officers and officials from the jurisdiction of the State Public Integrity Commission.