Aurora lawmakers unanimously pass wide-reaching city ethics law

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AURORA | Aurora lawmakers unanimously passed a measure Monday creating an ethics panel and procedure for local elected and select city officials.

Despite the proposal long being controversial, three amendments were added to a bill one city council member dubbed the  “Miracle on East Alameda Parkway.”

Prior to the vote, the ordinance would have prohibited city council members and the mayor from accepting gifts valued at more than $75. However, Councilman Charlie Richardson proposed that number be changed to $300 to keep “on the same page with Denver.”

Also, Councilman Dave Gruber proposed changing the proposed rules regulating fundraising dinners and galas to include only the price of food and not the public price of the ticket. He and other council members argued that council members would only be benefited for the price of the meal, not the price the company they are sitting with is paying for the table.

Councilwoman Francoise Bergan proposed removing aunt, uncle, nephew, niece from the definition of immediate family in the ordinance. 

“I simply thought that the definition of ‘immediate family’ was getting to the point of not allowing someone’s nephew from working during the summer part-time for college money,” Bergan told the Sentinel. “Again, not a problem for me. No relatives of any relation that would be a conflict for me.”

Although the ordinance has been heralded as a compromise, one constituent told the council it should have gone further to address ethics concerns. During the public comment period, Michael Himawan suggested the ordinance should have set a stronger tone. 

”If this is what qualifies as a miracle, I’m going to keep on praying,” Himawan said.

If effective, the ordinance will create an independent panel of retired judges tasked with investigating ethical complaints. The measure sets out a variety of rules and standards intended to  prevent council members from engaging in conflicts of interest. 

— Kara Mason contributed to this report