Portage's ethics ordinance faces revamp

2012-11-27T20:00:00Z 2012-11-27T21:00:06Z Portage's ethics ordinance faces revampJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The city's ethics ordinance will get a full review by a separate, specially appointed committee.

The City Council Ordinance Committee onĀ  Tuesday night decided changes to the ethics ordinance, adopted in 1996, should not be piecemeal, but that the ordinance should be looked at as a whole.

"I don't think we have enough fingers and toes to plug the holes in this dike," said City Councilman Ted Uzelac, who chairs the ordinance committee.

The ethics ordinance became an issue after Mayor James Snyder drew criticism last month after spending nights at the Florida home of a local contractor who has done business with the city.

An official ethics complaint was filed against Snyder, but the ethics committee has not met to take up the issue because the ethics committee does not have full membership, said A.J. Monroe, director of public works.

Monroe, who first worked for the city in 1999, then left in 2004 and returned this year, agreed changes need to be made.

"This is an opportunity," he said, adding when he was first employed by the city, he was never told of an ethics ordinance. Monroe added that he believes all employees should be required to read the ordinance and then sign a statement acknowledging they've done so.

Monroe said he has violated the present ordinance since it requires employees to submit an annual disclosure statement. He's never submitted one and doubts others have either.

Councilwoman Liz Modesto said she believes the city should have a zero tolerance policy prohibiting anyone in the position of granting a contract or hiring an employee from accepting gifts.

Councilman Matt Scheuer agreed, but said it should also include all elected officials.

Those ideas drew some criticism with some saying there needs to be clearer definitions within the ordinance to offer guidance to officials and employees.

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