Denver residents ought to be capable to belief that their elected officers aren’t being swayed by lobbyists bearing presents, however what if the presents are coming from inside metropolis authorities? A dispute between the Metropolis Council and town’s ethics division highlights the query.
We stand with these calling for clear limits and transparency when Denver elected officers settle for presents, journey, tickets and meals, even when the goodies come from metropolis departments.
These departments, together with Denver Worldwide Airport, usually foyer the Metropolis Council and the mayor for every little thing from funding and sources to coverage adjustments and approval of multimillion-dollar contracts with outdoors corporations.
Councilman Rafael Espinoza is correct that elected officers ought to reject or on the very least disclose free journeys and costly presents they obtain from metropolis departments.
However what’s much less clear is whether or not town’s present ethics code covers such departmental transactions, requiring public disclosure and limiting the values of presents to $25 or $300 for meals and tickets. As reported by The Denver Put up’s Jon Murray, Metropolis Council members have acquired puffy jackets from DIA and growlers and swag from different metropolis departments.
Underneath the code of ethics, elected officers and metropolis staff might not settle for presents price greater than $25 if the giver of the present has “an current, ongoing or pending contract, enterprise, or regulatory relationship” with town and the individual receiving the present is in a “place to take direct official motion.”
Michael Henry, govt director of the Denver Board of Ethics, says that language would clearly apply the present limits and disclosure necessities to metropolis departments. Assistant Metropolis Legal professional Tracy Davis urged Henry and the ethics board to rethink that place, on condition that it’s “not legally doable” for town to have a kind of listed relationships with itself. In different phrases, town can’t give a present to itself.
Whereas we see logic in Davis’ interpretation of the code, we expect the language is ambiguous sufficient to require clarification by Metropolis Council members, and we hope they select to impose restrictions on such presents somewhat than open the floodgates.
Such a transfer might additionally clear up potential unintended penalties. Councilman Kevin Flynn identified the ethics board’s interpretation might apply to metropolis staff. Nobody needs our civil servants in metropolis authorities afraid to attend a vacation celebration or journey to an out-of-state convention as a result of it could be an ethics violation.
“I believe it results in a weird consequence, however one which isn’t a difficulty when it’s understood that metropolis doesn’t have such relationships with itself, however solely with outdoors events,” Flynn wrote in an e mail to the board.
Such small presents seemingly can’t purchase the votes of our elected officers, however there does have to be a line within the sand to guard integrity and taxpayer . The present present limits appear to be affordable restrictions. Metropolis Council members make roughly $90,000 a 12 months and have budgets to rent their very own workers and for different bills. Whereas small perks could be good, they don’t seem to be crucial.
We hope the Metropolis Council can resolve this dispute in a means that continues the admirable march its members have been making towards an unbiased and moral metropolis authorities.