AURORA | A code of ethics ordinance dubbed, “the miracle on East Alameda Parkway” because of the work it took to create a council compromise is heading for Aurora City Council dais, again, Monday night for a formal vote.
The ordinance is the result of two different proposals from several city council members who sought stronger ethics rules for elected officials of the city.
If passed, the ordinance would create an independent panel of judges tasked with investigating ethical complaints. it would also prohibit the mayor and city council members from accepting gifts valued more than $75, and it would prevent council members from engaging in conflicts of interest.
Council members Nicole Johnston and Charlie Richardson teamed up to present an ethics code to fellow city lawmakers during an informal meeting on June 24. Richardson marveled that the bill is one that’s a true compromise. At one point, he and Johnston had two different versions of an ethics code.
Formally, Richardson and council member Marsha Berzins presented a version, based on Johnston’s original proposal, that set a gift limit of $59 — which is what state politicians are bound by — and lacked a conflict of interest section.
In June, a majority of council members voted not to move the compromised measure from the group’s study session to a regular meeting, despite Richardson and Johnston saying they would anyway.
Some council members cited concerns with some aspects of the proposal, especially a provision that would prohibit an elected official from accepting more than $75 for any meals, tickets or gifts from a lobbyist per year.
“(I) guess we’re not meeting with anybody,” Councilwoman Francoise Bergan said during the study session. “It’s just too low, I won’t be going anywhere.”
Separately, Councilwoman Angela Lawson has proposed a lobbyist registration ordinance, which would require quarterly reports from lobbyists working in Aurora. That ordinance was written in accordance with the the premises of the ethics ordinance.
Those reporters would disclose “any expenditure over $75 directly benefiting a covered official,” according to city documents. “This does not prohibit expenditures over $75, it only requires reporting.”
— KARA MASON, Staff Writer