Hollywood Park City Council on April 19 unanimously approved an ethics code applicable to local elected officials and appointed members of city boards, commissions and committees.
Among other things, the 16-page document says city officials and employees may own a business or have clients unrelated to the city position in which they serve.
However, a potential conflict may arise if a city official or employee is compensated for work done for an “outside” client—a business or some other venture—within a recent 12-month period, according to the new ethics code.
The ethics ordinance does allow city officials or employees to volunteer for a nonprofit or some other group, so long as the official or employee receives no compensation other than reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses.
The ethics code requires an elected official or appointee to recuse him/herself from deliberating or voting on something with which he/she may have a recent conflict or interest.
Additionally, the code requires city officials to report accepted gifts of food, lodging, transportation or entertainment to the city secretary within 90 days of receiving that gift valued at $100 or more.
Also, the code prohibits elected officials from hiring or using a city employee’s services for individual or personal gain, even if using the employee’s outside employer.
According to the new ethics code, in the event of an ethics complaint filed against a city official, the mayor may do an initial investigation to determine whether further investigation should be pursued.
However, the mayor may not dismiss the complaint without first getting approval from the council or obtaining an agreement that spells out a proposed penalty or corrective action.
Penalties could include censuring a city official with a formal public reprimand, removal of the official or reassigning the official with revised duties, according to the code.
Council Member Glenna Pearce said Hollywood Park’s first ethics ordinance provides a solid foundation for future councils.
“If issues do come up, this can be tweaked if needed,” she said.