HUNTINGTON BEACH : Council Adopts Code of Ethical Conduct

The City Council this week adopted a code of ethics that sets a standard of conduct for all elected officials, municipal employees and members of advisory boards, commissions and committees.

The code prohibits all officials, except appointees to boards, commissions and committees, from lobbying before the City Council or any other city organization for two years after they sever municipal ties.

The code also seeks to ensure that people working for the city do not use their expertise in municipal government to their own benefit when they leave the city's employment, Mayor Grace Winchell said.

The code of ethics sets a model for behavior but has no legal force, said Councilman David Sullivan, who has served on a committee working on the standards since last December.

There is a provision, however, that allows council members to censure officials who violate the code.

Other rules prohibit officials from using city facilities or resources for their own advantage or using for private gain official information not available to the public.

Also, the code prohibits officials from discriminating against or harassing someone on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, marital status or age.

In addition, the new code requires all officials to be courteous and respectful during the performance of their duties.

Winchell said that no specific incident prompted the code of ethics, which updates policies spelled out in a City Council manual pertaining to official conduct.

In related action, the City Council formed a subcommittee to prepare an ordinance prohibiting officials from accepting gifts, including lunches, drinks and admission to events, except those from educational, academic or charitable organizations that don't amount to $50 or more during the course of a year.

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