Council Approves Amended Ethics Reporting Procedures

By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.

After much discussion and several votes on Monday, October 23, the Everett City Council finally voted to approve new City procedures for requiring reporting and investigation of perceived “fraudulent activity, misappropriation and corruption,” by City officials.

However, the new rules will not apply to the City Council itself or its staff, following an amendment made by Ward 1 Councilor Fred Capone that the new rules apply “to those who fall under direct control and supervision of the City Administration.”

Capone made his amendment based on his stated belief that the new reporting and investigation procedures could potentially be used by the administration to, in some way, control the City Council. He called the policies if extended to the Council “a direct attack” on the separation of powers that underpin democratic government.

The new procedures identify responsibilities and processes for employees, agents, elected and appointed board members to report fraud or abuse – if they see it – to one of a handful of administration officials. Those officials  then have a responsibility to investigate the allegations to their fullest abilities in an effort to ascertain if fraud, abuse or corruption has been perpetrated.

Councilor Capone and others who opposed, including the Council in the new rules, pointed to the fact that the City Council rules already include ethics rules and procedures and disciplinary policies for investigating alleged misconduct by its members.

Under the new rules, any employees, officials and contracted agents, such as vendor, are required to report abuses they witness to senior level administrators not in their direct chain of command, thus protecting the accuser from retribution before the charges can be investigated appropriately.

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