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Posts Tagged ‘Board of Ethics’

Possible mayoral candidate Gary Hinzman has a good question, but the answer might best be divined by some good reading

In City Hall, Gary Hinzman on May 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Gary: Two pieces of suggested reading — the city charter and the city’s nepotism policy.

Mayoral prospect Gary Hinzman asked the city’s Board of Ethics a simple question: Do his wife, Linda Hinzman, and daughter, Paula Hinzman Mitchell, as well as a brother-in-law have to quit city employment if he is elected the city’s part-time mayor.

They won’t. But he is not going to get a simple answer like that.

At a meeting at noon Thursday at City Hall, the Board of Ethics concluded that it doesn’t have jurisdiction in the matter because Gary Hinzman is not now a city official and is not a prospective candidate for city office with a business relationship with the city that might create a conflict should he be elected.

The board members suggested that Gary’s relatives confer with the city’s human resources office or their department supervisors if they had any question about the matter.

However, board member Bill Quinby noted that, as he understood it, city employees in the city’s council/manager government report to the city manager and not to elected officials.

City Attorney Jim Flitz, who attended the board meeting, agreed with Quinby, saying city employees report to managers and directors who, in turn, report to the city manager.

Flitz made reference to the city charter which he says spells out what the City Council can and can’t do. He noted that the charter treats police and fire chiefs differently than other city employees.

The city charter gives the council, of which the mayor is one of nine members, the responsibility to hire the city manager, city attorney and city clerk.

The charter also says the city manager hires a police chief and fire chief “with the advice and consent of the city council.”

The city charter goes on to say it is the city manager’s duty to “supervise and direct the administration of city government and the official conduct of employees of the city appointed by the city manager including their employment, training, reclassification, suspension or discharge as the occasion requires, subject to state law.”

In another section, the charter says this of the City Council’s role:

“… (N)either the City Council nor any of its members shall control or demand the appointment or removal of any city administrative officer or employee whom the city manager or any subordinate of the city manager is empowered to appoint, but the council may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the city manager anything pertaining to the appointment and removal of such officers and employees.

“Further, a council member may not interfere with the supervision or direction of any person appointed by or under control of the city manager.”

Flitz also noted to the Board of Ethics that the city has a nepotism policy.

In that policy, it states that “no employee shall be supervised, either directly or indirectly, by a family member.”

Earlier this week, Hinzman said he was seeking an answer to the question about city-employee relatives should he decide to run for mayor. As much as anything, he wanted to be able to have something to lean on should the question come up.

Hinzman, long-time director of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, is a former Cedar Rapids police chief. He is sensitive to issues surrounding relatives in city employment because of questions raised in 1987 when he was police chief and his wife, then a civilian staff member in the Police Department, was positioned to become the department’s accountant. Then-Public Safety Commissioner Floyd Bergen transferred the accounting position to the auditor’s office to resolve the matter.

Don’t forget mayoral prospect Gary Hinzman; he asks ethics board if a city employee must quit should a relative become mayor or council member

In City Hall, Gary Hinzman on May 6, 2009 at 9:14 am

Don’t forget about mayoral prospect Gary Hinzman, long-time director of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services and a former Cedar Rapids police chief.

In a talk with Hinzman on Wednesday, it was clear Hinzman isn’t going to let some successful fund-raising by mayoral candidate Ron Corbett, a former Republican speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, or comments this week about possible mayoral interest from Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston, a Democrat, stop him from considering a mayoral run.

Nor will Tuesday’s news that mayoral prospect and City Council member Monica Vernon has moved from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

Hinzman noted that his plan, if he does decide to run for mayor, is to shoot right down the middle and run as an independent and as an agency director who he says knows how to get things done. After all, elective city office is non-partisan, he said.

A call to Hinzman this week was prompted by an announcement that the city’s Board of Ethics – the only such local board in Iowa – will convene at noon Thursday to take up an issue first raised by Hinzman in an e-mail to the ethics board.

Hinzman on Wednesday said he wants to make sure that there would be no conflicts, should he become mayor, with having his wife and daughter working for the city and him serving as part-time mayor.

His wife, Linda, is a financial analyst in the city Finance Department and their daughter, Paula, is a supervisor in the city’s Housing Services office.

Hinzman said the ethics board will consider issuing an advisory opinion on the matter.

He said he just wants to have an answer should he be queried about it in the future, though, he said he suspects that city employees would not need to give up their jobs should relatives get elected to the City Council.

At the same time, Hinzman said he is making sure he can direct a state agency at the same time as he might be mayor. He is fairly sure he can do that, too. He points to Eugene Meyer, now head of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, who served as mayor of West Des Moines while head of the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation.

As for getting in the mayoral race, Hinzman said there is some value for now in sitting on the sidelines. One fear, he said, is that the political parties will commit huge resources to party candidates and make it tough for a non-partisan candidate to compete.

Hinzman said a smart candidate with half as much money as the big spenders can compete. Staying on the sidelines now will lessen the amount of money a campaign will need to raise, he said.

Two weeks ago, Corbett, vice president at trucking firm CRST Inc., reported that he had already raised some $42,000, nearly the amount that each of the candidates spent in the 2005 mayoral race.