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(a) A complaint that a city official has violated the conflicts of interest or standards of conduct outlined in this subchapter shall be made in accordance with this chapter, except that a report concerning a city official may be referred to the board by the fraud coordination committee. Anonymous complaints shall not be considered. All complaints shall be referred to the board of ethics who shall review the complaint in light of the conflicts of interest and standards of conduct as set forth in this subchapter, or the fraud control policy if it is a referral from the fraud coordination committee. A copy of the complaint shall be sent to the city official against whom a complaint has been filed by certified mail within two business days of the written filing.
(b) All complaints, subsequent filings and proceedings of the board shall remain confidential unless otherwise provided herein. The accused may choose to waive confidentiality and make the complaint public. Upon the election by the accused, any subsequent filings and proceedings with the board become public. If the accused chooses to waive confidentiality, then the board has the right to make a public statement limited to that information as reasonably necessary to mitigate any adverse publicity resulting from a public statement by the accused.
(c) The board of ethics shall have all the powers of investigation as are afforded the city council by the city charter. The board performing the review of the complaint shall report to the city council in writing not more than 60 days after the day of assignment, unless an extension is granted by a majority of the eligible council members. For purposes of this section, an ELIGIBLE COUNCIL MEMBER means any council member who is not named in the complaint. If the board determines that the facts as alleged do not establish probable cause that there has been a violation of this subchapter or otherwise dismisses a complaint under this subchapter, a report of the board’s findings shall be given to the city council, and the matter shall be considered concluded. If the board determines that the facts as alleged establish probable cause that there has been a violation of this subchapter, the report containing the board’s findings and recommended sanctions shall be given to the city council.
(d) The board’s report to the city council shall be a public record, but all filings and proceedings prior to the report shall remain confidential unless the accused had elected to make the complaint public. Until a time as the board issues its report to the city council or the accused elects to make the complaint public, no complainant, board member, nor any person who has access to any confidential information related to the functions or activities of the board shall divulge that information to any person who is not authorized to have it.
(e) Upon receiving a report from the board of ethics that there is probable cause to believe that a violation of the conflicts of interest or standards of conduct or a violation of the fraud control policy by a city council member may exist, the eligible members of the city council shall schedule a public hearing to be held within 30 days of receipt of that report.
(f) All hearings of the city council under this subchapter shall be conducted as follows:
(1) The city council shall have all the powers of investigation including subpoena power as are given to it by reason of the city charter;
(2) A city council member against whom a complaint has been filed may elect to be represented by outside legal counsel of his or her own choosing and at their own expense. The city council member(s) has the right to a full and complete hearing with the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence;
(3) The board of ethics chairperson or his or her designee shall present the evidence and examine witnesses in support of the board’s report with the board bearing the burden of proof on behalf of the city;
(4) The city attorney shall act as legal advisor to the eligible city council members conducting the hearing, unless there is a conflict of interest for the city attorney;
(5) All proceedings shall be taken verbatim by a court reporter;
(6) The city council shall receive evidence from the city council member alleged to have committed wrongdoing, and from the person making a complaint against the official or employee of unethical conduct or behavior, or any other person as the city council deems necessary;
(7) The city council may request and, if necessary, subpoena witnesses, books, records or any documents which relate to the allegations or complaint;
(8) The eligible city council members, upon completion of a public hearing, shall render a decision in the form of a resolution and, in addition, the eligible city council members shall thereafter have prepared findings of fact, conclusions of law and a final order to be filed within 20 days with both the city clerk and the city council member against whom a complaint has been filed either determining no violation occurred, or if supported by clear and convincing evidence the order shall set forth the remedy as provided by this chapter to be complied with in order that voluntary compliance may be had and final determination obtained. In the event that voluntary compliance is not obtainable, action consistent with the city charter may be taken; and
(9) All decisions and orders rendered by the city council shall be made public.
(1992 Code, § 12.5-35) (Ord. 24-09, passed 3-16-2009; Ord. 03-11, passed 1-18-2011; Ord. 57-12, passed 8-7-2012)