Code of Ethics Recommendations

 

Reclaim New York is a strong advocate for citizen-driven oversight of government entities and recognizes the important role a strong code of ethics must play. This code establishes key transparency practices by which citizens can hold public officials and municipal employees accountable. A local Board of Ethics is also an integral component in policing the behavior of public officials. Collectively, these measures establish a culture of transparency that directly relates to the quality of governance that citizens receive.

Below, you will find Reclaim New York’s recommendations for a code of ethics. Please note that these are not definitive. Once codified, these recommendations set guidelines that require enforcement to fully achieve their intended objective.

Guidelines:

  • Establish a board of ethics
    • Five to seven members
    • No member shall be an officer or an employee of the municipality
    • No officer of a political party shall be appointed to the Board
    • Post names and contact information for the members of the Board and a way for citizens to report ethics violations (install whistle-blower protections)
    • Mandate quarterly meetings of the Board of Ethics
    • Review code of ethics annually
    • Offers advisory opinions
  • Post Ethics Guidelines online in a machine readable format
  • Officers, employees, and members of their immediate family may not enter into a contract with the municipality
  • Officers and Employees may not:
    • Use their office to receive a financial benefit for themselves, their family, or anyone else they have a business relationship with
    • Accept gifts or favors valued over a certain dollar amount (set by the Board of Ethics) from anyone who is not a relative in the course of a calendar year
    • Hire or directly supervise a relative without the consent of the Board of Ethics
      • Additionally, officers and employees may not pressure others to hire relatives
    • Use municipal resources for non-municipal activities
    • Receive speaking fees for presentations related to the municipality
    • Serve in a paid position on another board of a public governing entity
  • Officers and Employees who hold policymaking positions in the municipality must submit a financial disclosure form to the Board of Ethics on an annual basis
    • The nature of the disclosure and the date the disclosure shall be established by the Board of Ethics
    • These disclosures must be posted on the Town’s website
  • Convicted felons are not eligible to run for municipal office
  • Officers and employees who have been convicted of a felony can no longer act on behalf of the municipality
  • Should an officer or employee violate the code of ethics, they ought to be subject to a fine (set by the Board of Ethics) per violation or removal from office
    • Before penalties are enforced, the officer or employee should have the opportunity to be heard in a proceeding before the Board

Procurement:

  • All bids must be posted online
  • All contracts over $10,000 must be posted in a database that shows the contract number, the vendor awarded the contract, the date the contract was awarded, and the total dollar amount of the contract
  • Require all vendors doing business with the municipality to disclose all political donations made to elected officials of the municipality as part of the RFP submission

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