City leaders are not supposed to use their position with the city for personal gain. Anyone who attended a Constitution or civics class in high school should have already been exposed to that issue, or one similar to it, and this week the Great Bend City Council made its stand on this and other ethical issues official as it adopted the city’s new ethics policy.
The policy was developed by studying policies from other Kansas communities.
The issue was raised when city auditors suggested it was needed, according to City Administrator Howard Partington.
According to the policy, the city “recognizes that the proper workings of representative and democratic government require that public officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to citizens; that government decisions and policy be made in appropriate structures of government; that public office not be used for personal gain; and that the public has confidence In the integrity of its government.”
According to the policy as it was approved this week, it will “apply to all elected officials, city employees, and appointed members of the city boards, authorities, committees or commissions.”
Specific points in the policy call for the city officials to:
• Avoid any appearance of impropriety.
• Refrain from voting, advocating or taking action on a city contract, transaction, or regulatory action which will result in a direct financial benefit to the public officer or employee. Public officers or employees should not use their public position for private gain. (City contract bids under the city purchasing policy are excluded.)
• Uphold the Constitution, laws and regulations of the United States of America, the state of Kansas, and the City of Great Bend.
• Refrain from making any promise, private in nature, which would compromise the integrity of his/her position as a public officer and employee.
• Refrain from engaging in any business with the city which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his/her governmental duties.
• Refrain from using any confidential information obtained in the performance of governmental duties as a means for making a private profit or gaining benefit.
• Refrain from revealing any information made known through his/her public office or employment which is by law confidential, or by custom is a protected right of privacy.
• Refrain from misleading or allowing others to mislead the public or other governmental officials.
• Disclose or report to appropriate officials any corruption whenever discovered.
• Stand as a representative of the government and the public trust and never intentionally act outside the scope of their authority.
• Refrain from assisting and representing the private interests of another before any city commission, board or agency.
• Abstain from participation in the decision~making process, Including discussion and voting, as necessary to avoid conflict with these guidelines.
• Refrain from using one’s position as a public officer or employee to influence others for personal gain. (For example, no public officer or employee should use their position to influence anyone to dismiss traffic tickets or criminal charges, interfere with investigations, etc.)
There are penalties included in the policy, it was noted, and they include:
A city employee who violates the policy could be addressed under provisions that already exist in the employee handbook, however that could not address an elected official.
The policy states: “Violation of this ethics policy by a member of the governing body shall be subject to action by the governing body.”