City employees get lessons in proper behavior

City employees get lessons in proper behavior

PAWTUCKET - Department directors, division heads and other city employees attended a Nov. 22 workshop on the state Ethics Code and how it could affect decisions that they or other city workers may have to make.

Led by Jason Gramitt, staff attorney and education coordinator for the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, the 90-minute session conducted in the City Council chamber included examples of conflicts or potential conflicts of interest along with a discussion of who is governed under the rules of the code.

Gramitt discussed financial disclosure, the ethics rules governing the giving or accepting of gifts and up to what value, how to seek an advisory opinion or file an ethics complaint, definitions of family relations and business associates for purposes of the ethics code, and when members of a public body should recuse themselves from discussion or voting on matters that may pose a potential conflict, among many other areas.

The Ethics Commission has the power to adopt, enforce and administer the state Ethics Code, which sets out standards of conduct for public employees and officials. The commission also oversees the financial disclosure program requiring all elected officials and candidates for public office, and certain other categories of state or municipal officials, to file annual financial statements.

The ethics workshop follows another recent panel on open government, including information on the state Access to Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act regulations. The earlier session was offered by the Office of the Attorney General.

City Solicitor Frank Milos set up the workshops at Grebien's request as a way to keep city employees up to date on rules that can periodically change and which many of them must deal with on an ongoing basis.

Grebien said it is important for city directors and other employees to be aware of open meetings, public records and ethics rules and regulations.

"The better informed our city employees are, the better service we can provide to the public while maintaining high ethical standards," he said.