(a) Creation. There is hereby created an independent body called the "board of ethics."
(b) Objective. The objective of the board of ethics is to issue written opinions regarding ethical, not legal, questions and to engage in activities which will promote ethical behavior.
(c) Board membership; terms; meetings; rules.
(1) The board of ethics shall consist of five members who are city residents appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council. City officials and the immediate family of city officials shall not be eligible for appointment to the board.
(2) Members shall be appointed for terms of three years, except that of those first appointed, two shall serve for three years, two shall serve for two years, and one shall serve for one year. Initial nominations shall be made by the mayor within 90 days of the effective date of this division, and nominations to fill vacancies and subsequent terms shall be made by the mayor within 60 days of occurrence of the vacancy or commencement of the term. The city council shall vote on confirmation within 30 days of receipt of nominations from the mayor. If nominations are not made within the periods specified, the city council shall appoint the member(s). If the city council shall not vote on confirmation within the period specified, the mayor's nominations shall be deemed confirmed and the member(s) shall be appointed.
(3) The affirmative vote of three members of the board of ethics shall be necessary for any action.
(4) The city clerk shall serve on an ex officio basis as secretary to the board without the right to vote.
(5) The board of ethics shall meet as frequently as necessary to promptly perform appointed duties. Meetings of the board shall be subject to the Michigan Open Meetings Act (MCL 15.26 et seq.).
(6) The board of ethics may adopt interpretative rules and procedures relating to the requirements and application of this division.
(7) The board of ethics shall conduct meetings in accordance with the rules of order adopted by the city council.
2005 S-2 CD2:11
§ 2-106 MASON CODE
(d) Powers and duties. The board of ethics shall have the power to:
(1) Receive requests for advisory opinions from city officials.
(2) Receive complaints concerning alleged unethical conduct by a city official from any person or entity.
(3) Receive and retain on file copies of advisory opinions, disclosure statements, and other materials required to be filed under this division.
a. Advisory opinions shall be retained indefinitely.
b. Disclosure statements shall be retained throughout the tenure of the city official plus two years after the completion of said tenure.
c. Other materials required to be filed under this division shall be retained for ten years.
(4) Review the request for advisory opinion or the complaint to determine if the board has jurisdiction over the matter and/or persons identified in the request or complaint.
(5) If a complaint concerns an employee, the sole power of the board shall be to forward the complaint with no action forthwith to the city manager. The board of ethics shall have no power or jurisdiction concerning employees except as specifically set forth in subsection 2-106(d)(5).
(6) Inquire into the circumstances surrounding alleged unethical conduct. The board of ethics, upon its own, may initiate an inquiry. The board is hereby authorized to exercise all of the powers granted by Chapter 6, Section 6.9, of the City Charter, except that the board shall not have the power to subpoena witnesses or compel the production of books, papers, and other evidence. The board may seek the assistance and opinion of the city attorney in the investigation of a matter. In the event that the city attorney is the subject of an investigation, the board may, subject to prior approval of a written retainer agreement by the city council, seek outside counsel in the investigation of a matter.
(7) Issue advisory opinions in response to complaints and requests and on its own motion. Advisory opinions of the board of ethics shall be maintained in the office of the city clerk and shall be available to the public upon request.
(8) Adopt and maintain disclosure forms, which may be revised by the board of ethics from time to time.
(9) Report to the mayor and the city council from time to time, but not less often than annually, regarding such matters pertaining to this division as the board deems appropriate, which may include, but not be limited to, the degree to which the policy of this division is being achieved; the numbers and nature of requests for advisory opinions and complaints and the ultimate disposition thereof; the implementation and effectiveness of this division; and any changes in this division recommended to more fully achieve the purposes and policy of this division.
(e) Board actions. Action to be taken in any individual case may include the following:
(1) Issue a written advisory opinion.
(2) Deem no action to be required.
(3) Refer the matter to the city attorney to determine whether legal action may be appropriate and what form by which to take such action.
(f) Confidentiality and due process. The board of ethics shall to the fullest extent permitted by law keep all complaints and requests for advisory opinions strictly confidential. All persons alleged to have violated this division shall be notified of said allegations and afforded the opportunity to be heard.
(g) Advisory opinions.
(1) The board of ethics may issue written advisory opinions interpreting this division and its provisions and relevant provisions of state law applicable to city officials. Advisory opinions shall not disclose the identities of the person or entity making the request for an advisory opinion or the identity of the persons or positions who are the subject of a complaint or inquiry. Advisory opinions shall be issued within 60 days of a request. If additional time is needed, the time may be extended by action of the board.
(2) Advisory opinions may include guidance to any city official on questions including, but not limited to:
a. Whether an identifiable conflict of interest exists between his personal interests or obligations and his official duties.
b. Whether his participation in his official capacity would involve discretionary judgment with significant effect on the disposition of the matter in question.
c. Whether the result of the potential conflict of interest is substantial or constitutes a real threat to the independence of his judgment.
d. Whether he possesses certain knowledge or skill which the city will require to achieve a sound decision.
e. What effect his participation under the circumstances would have on the confidence of the people in the impartiality of city officials.
f. Whether a disclosure of his personal interests would be advisable and, if so, how such disclosure should be made.
g. Whether the public interest would be best served by his withdrawal or abstention.
h. Whether undue influence is being exerted on him.
(3) When the board of ethics issues an advisory opinion regarding ethical questions pursuant to this section, the board shall promptly send a copy of its opinion to:
a. The individual who requested the opinion;
b. The city official affected;
c. The mayor;
d. The city manager.
(4) The board shall publicize summaries of its advisory opinions to all city officials.
(Ord. No. 132, § 7, 9-7-1999; Ord. No. 143, 5-3-2004; Ord. 222, § 6, 12-3-2018)