Any individual who believes that a violation of this chapter has occurred and wishes to make a complaint shall do so through a signed and dated writing which shall be filed with the City Clerk's office, who shall be the custodian of records concerning alleged ethics violations. A complaint can also be filed by mailing or hand-delivering same to any City Commissioner, or to the City Attorney, at which time the complaint shall then be filed with the City Clerk. The City Clerk shall then forward the complaint to the City Commission, City Manager and City Attorney, unless such complete disclosure could impair the consideration and/or investigation of the matter. The City Attorney upon receipt shall confer with the City Manager and City Commission in determining how to proceed, unless one or more members of the City Commission are the subject of the complaint. In the event of the latter, the City Attorney will confer with the Mayor, unless the Mayor is the subject of the complaint, which in such case the Vice-Mayor shall be the conferee. As to all other complaints the City Commission and City Attorney will follow the procedure below.
   (A)   Review the complaint and determine whether the matter may be resolved without the need for investigation or referral.
      (1)   Forward a copy of the complaint to the public official or city employee named in the complaint (the respondent) requesting a written response or to otherwise provide further information within 21 days.
      (2)   Upon receipt of the response from the respondent, the City Commission, consulting with the City Attorney as necessary, may determine that the complaint should be dismissed, or may request further information from the complainant or the respondent if it is deemed necessary, or may determine that referral to the Board of Ethics, or alternatively, an investigation is warranted.
      (3)   The City Attorney shall disclose the City Commission's determination to the complainant and respondent if such disclosure would not impair further investigation of the matter.
   (B)   The appropriate action to be taken in any individual case shall be at the discretion of the City Commission in consultation with the City Attorney, which action may include, but is not limited to, any of the following (any sanction or punishment can only be imposed by the City Commission, unless a violation of state or federal law):
      (1)    Pursuing further investigation by the City Attorney or an independent investigator;
      (2)    Refer the matter to the Board of Ethics for further consideration;
      (3)   Taking appropriate disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, reprimand, censure, suspension, and/or removal from employment; but only to the extent allowable by law, and in accordance with the St. Johns City Charter, Code of Ordinances, or the City of St. Johns Personnel Manual;
      (4)   Refer the matter to the appropriate law enforcement or prosecuting authority; and/or
      (5)   Pursuing such other course of action which is reasonable, just, and appropriate under the circumstances. While a complaint is pending, the city may exempt from disclosure as a public record any of the material, notes, communications, information or investigative records and materials if it is determined that said records are exempt under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
   (C)   Upon request by the complainant, his or her name will remain anonymous unless Freedom of Information Act rules, due process considerations, or a court order require disclosure.
(Ord. 631, passed 9-25-2017)