Ethics Vote Postponed
On Tuesday night, the Denton City Council moved to postpone the long-awaited ethics ordinance vote following concerns raised during the meeting. Following the public hearing session of the meeting, in which several members of the public expressed sentiments of concern regarding recent changes to the documents as well as urges to “pass [the ordinance] now,” outgoing Councilman Dalton Gregory motioned for a postponement of the vote until the next meeting of the Council on April 24.
The meeting had moved quickly in its approval of the city employees’ version of the ordinance. This move came in the wake of the ethics ordinance the Council had been adopting for itself, as the citizen committee’s spokeswoman noted that there wasn’t “a single overarching ethics policy” for the City, both for the Council and the city employees. This employee version was rooted in the desire to avoid employees using their positions for personal benefit (including clauses against nepotism), and the duty for reporting or acknowledging any conflicts of interest rested, in the approved ordinance, on the employee themselves. The Council swiftly and unanimously approved the ordinance after little deliberation.
However, the meeting’s main focus had been the potential completion of the ethics ordinance saga, which has spanned since last November until now. Mr. Alan Bojorquez, the consulting attorney hired by the Council to lead the charge in responding to an overwhelmingly-positive voter mandate last November, once again testified in front of the Council. As several citizens had aired their concerns regarding a recently-relaxed regulation from two years to one year in allowing former city officials to be paid to lobby the Council, Mr. Bojorquez addressed the matter and the noted reduction as an “attempt to not discourage” participation in local governance.
The Council was also greeted with several calls for swift adoption, given the upcoming Council elections and the timeframe needed to train a new Ethics Board -- with some Councillors noting that September 1st was an attainable, though strained, goal.
As the official vote regarding adoption neared, Councilman Gregory conveyed the notion that it would be best to postpone the vote so that the Council could ensure that the ordinance in consideration was lockstep with the newly-adopted employees’ ordinance. After some deliberation, the Council voted unanimously in approval of Mr. Gregory’s move to push the vote to April 24th, which is not a regular council meeting but a council work session.
If approved, the long-awaited ordinance could be implemented by the beginning of the fall. The latest draft of the ethics ordinance can be found on the City of Denton website.
Curtis can be reached on Twitter @Curtis_Stratton.