The City of Great Bend Ethics Policy:
Adopted, in April 2011 at the suggestion of the city’s auditors, it applies 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.”
After an often heated exchange between Great Bend City Council Member Randy Myers and several fellow council members over his alleged ethics violations, Myers stood up and walked out of the governing body’s Monday night meeting.
“You know what, I need to get to work,” he said. “I don’t have time for this crap. I’ve had enough.”
At issue were allegations from council members that Myers purposefully misled the public via his frequent letters to the editor in the Great Bend Tribune leading up to the April mayoral election. Myers ran a failed campaign against nine-year incumbent Mike Allison.
This item was tabled at the April 15 meeting after it had been put on the agenda at the request of council members Nels Lindberg and Ken Roberts who wanted the council to consider violations of the city’s ethics policy in regards to the Myers. However, Lindberg was absent and there were two new council members attending their first meeting.
After Myers left, the remaining council members sat speechless for a moment. “I don’t know quite where to begin,” Dana Dawson said.
He said he, too, sometimes feels left out of the loop. But, there is always a chance to ask questions.
“We should all be grown up about this,” Wayne Henneke said.
“Everything decided by the council is decided in open session,” Allison said. Members don’t always agree, but that’s the way the system works.
“We’ve got the steam off that’s been building for quite a while,” said Edwin Roberts. Now, it is time to move past it.
Allison suggested they just let the matter drop. The council agreed, moving immediately to adjourn.
“I felt like in some of your ads for mayor, you misled the public,” Allison said. The mayor, who was the first to speak, referenced the policy’s item H – “Refrain from misleading or allowing others to mislead the public or other governmental officials.”
“You said you only missed two council meetings. You missed seven,” Allison said.
Myers disagreed, saying he believed he had only missed two.
“I looked it up in the minutes,” Allison said.
One letter supporting Myers quoted the name number, the mayor said. “You can’t do that as far as I’m concerned.”
In the same Myers letter, Allison said Myers accused him of making money from back-room deals. “Can you name a back-room deal?”
“I don’t need to,” Myers said. “I don’t have to prove it one way or the other.”
Besides, he said, such things are “hidden so well around here” that the truth will likely never be known.
“It’s not factual,” Allison said.
“It is,” Myers said.
Next, Council Member Ken Roberts questioned Myers claim that the city raised the mill levee three and half mills in three years. “That is absolutely not true. That is a false statement.”
“I believe it is (true), Myers said. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. You do what you want to do.”
City Administrator Howard Partington said the city had OKed what would have been a two-and-a-half mill hike. But, due to an increase in assessed valuation, that never transpired.
“Then I was mistaken,” Myers said. “It was not on purpose.”
Nels Linberg blasted Myers for his statement that Lindberg “was buddies with Dennis Call (owner of Benefit Management Inc.)” because he voted for BMI as the city’s health insurance carrier. “You are severely mistaken, Councilman Myers.”
“It must be (true),” Myers said. “Otherwise, why did you push so hard for it.”
“Get your facts straight,” Lindberg said. He reminded Myers of the oath of office.
“I don’t care what you think,” Myers said.
After being on the defensive, Myers went on the offensive. He said the mayor used his office to sell his house to Red Barn, the pet product company that moved to Great Bend.
“I sold it to the manager,” Allison said. After the manager left the company, Red Barn bought it from him.
“If that’s true, I apologize,” Myers said. “That’s what I’ve been told.”
“You’ve got to look at who tells you things,” Allison said.
Scoffing at the apology, Lindberg said all he wants is for Myers to quit blasting people in the newspaper. He wants honesty and integrity.
“Let’s cut to the chase,” Myers said. “What is the outcome of this.”
In other business Monday night, the City Council:
• Approved abatement requests: For accumulation of refuse at 819 Adams, owned by Eula Fay Moser and Tony Jones, 320 Plum, owned by Estaban Gonzalez, and 815 Hubbard, owned by Moses Properties LLC; for motor vehicle nuisance at 3219 Forest, owned by Ida Marie Luse, 1809 Broadway, owned by Fletta Wiziarde, and 201 Chestnut, owned by Cecilia Obregon and Hector Manuel Rincon Lopez; and for both refuse and vehicles at 926 Madison, owned by Evon Gallant, and 312 Plum, owned by Jose Sanchez.
• Heard Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters monthly economic development report. She discussed openings this month and next of Papa Johns/Baskin Robins, the Cinema 6 theater and Sutherlands.
• In regards to the upcoming June Jaunt May 31-June 2, approved closing Lakin Avenue from Kansas Avenue to Main Street from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 31 for Kansas Speedweek Cruise Night and closing the north half of Lakin Avenue from Kansas Avenue to Main Street 7 a.m. to midnight June 1 for June Jaunt events in Jack Kilby Square.
Also approved was a motion authorizing people to be in Jack Kilby Square from 10 p.m. to midnight May 31 and June 1 for the June Jaunt events.
“The businesses, organizations and individuals have all stepped up and produced an amazing lineup for May 31-June 2,” said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes of the finalized schedule. “Although antiques is the major theme this year, art is still a major focus.”
Hayes said they have about 50 different “events” scheduled for the weekend. In addition, the rescheduled Kansas Speedweek Cruise Night will take place May 31 and team up with the free movie night, featuring “The Wizard of Oz,” in the square.
• Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Love’s Travel and Country Store No. 11, 1221 10th St., due to a change of manager.
• Heard an update on the activities of city departments from Partington.