A 45-minute discussion on a proposed Code of Ethics and Conduct Dec. 17 led to the Dewey-Humboldt town council's 5-2 decision to approve a 9-page ordinance setting forth responsibilities, conduct, compliance and enforcement of council and town official conduct.
Councilmember Mark McBrady strongly objected to the Code on several points. He said he thought the proposed ordinance was the strictest in Arizona, calling it "so severe, so restrictive, so subjective, that it will cause problems in the future."
He also wanted the council to print the proposed ordinance in its entirety in the newspaper so residents and also councils in neighboring towns and cities would have a chance to comment.
Council member Jack Hamilton pointed out that the public has had an opportunity to provide input. Council first discussed the need for a code of ethics in May, and also on nine more occasions leading up to the council's most recent meeting.
Hamilton said, if someone were to break the Code of Ethics, they correct it and it's no longer a problem. "If you refuse to correct it, and say, 'I'm not going to do it,' that's when we have a problem," he said.
Town attorney Susan Goodwin clarified that the Code does not govern violations of the regular town code until a council member is found in violation, at which time the ethics code might come into play.
McBrady said the Code of Ethics was brought up by four council members, and said he didn't like the idea that four people could "push this through."
Council member Arlene Alen pointed out that the Code is designed to be educational, and that McBrady was present at the prior meetings and didn't speak up at a lot of them, with which McBrady disagreed.
"I have spoken at these meetings, but I have not been heard," he said.
Council member Sonya Williams-Rowe said the Code gives council an option to levy a fine.
"But the person is given four opportunities to fix the behavior. That is the purpose - to bring it to your attention so you can fix it," she said.
A motion to publish the Code in the newspaper for public comment failed 2-5, with McBrady and Mayor Terry Nolan voting affirmatively.
Council approved the Code with a 5-2 vote, with McBrady and Nolan voting against.
The Code of Ethics and Conduct can be accessed through the D-H website, www.Dewey-Humboldt.net, Dec. 17 council meeting packet information.
The ethics committee could, after finding a town official or council member in violation of the Code, recommend public censure, public sanction, removal from the board or committee, or a fine up to $500. Kimball said it would be up to the town council's interpretation of the Code to decide whether it could find McBrady in violation of the Code.
"Council member McBrady's code violation occurred in 2010; the Code of Ethics is adopted through an ordinance in December 2013," she said on Monday.
Section A(1) of the Code requires town officials and council to "...comply with all applicable laws, whether local, state or federal..." Town officials cited McBrady in June 2010 after an inspection by the town code enforcement worker, Central Yavapai Fire District and the Yavapai County Inspection Division for not meeting building requirements on the Town Hall. McBrady objected, the case went to court, and Hearing Officer John Edman upheld the violations and issued a $100 fine in October 2010. McBrady refused to pay the fine and was assessed a $1,600 penalty.
Town Manager Yvonne Kimball said the fine went to a collection agency in 2011; McBrady paid the agency $100 toward the balance in March 2013. The Town has not received any payment from the collection agency.
McBrady said earlier this year the fine is included in the reorganization plans under his bankruptcy proceedings, which includes the Town Hall buildings.