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The work of the LMC Ethics Advisory Panel resulted in two documents—the Model Statement of Values and the Template Code of Conduct.
The Model Statement of Values is an aspirational document, intended to provide a framework for ethical decision-making. The values it promotes can only be self-enforced, primarily by providing an ethical anchor, raising the quality of discussion and expectation among city officials and in the community, and by appealing to the conscience of the individual. It would be difficult and likely counterproductive to suggest that such values could be subject to formal review or enforcement action.
Cities may choose to use the Model Statement of Values in a variety of ways, including:
Cities are free, and even encouraged, to review the document in detail and make any deletions, additions, or modifications your local officials feel are appropriate.
The Template Code of Conduct is a law-based document, incorporating very specific standards of behavior that are already written into state statute or that have been handed down by court rulings. The Code of Conduct also offers legal methods for dealing with infractions. By adopting this code at the municipal level, a city council can take self-initiated action to see that these standards are upheld in the community, rather than having to wait on civil litigation initiated by citizens or criminal prosecution by the county attorney.
The Template Code of Conduct should be considered for formal adoption as a city ordinance. The template can locally codify existing and relatively well articulated standards of conduct already required by state law, so enforcement through quasi-judicial review is feasible. When adopting the code, cities need to consider to whom the code applies. Cities also need to formulate a hearing procedure.
This document has been carefully reviewed by LMC legal counsel, and it is recommended that any modifications be considered only after careful review by the city attorney. Cities that choose not to formally adopt the template may still find the document to be a useful and concise reference piece for individual city officials.
LMC policy analysis staff provided research and guidance to the work of the Ethics Advisory Panel, and are available to answer your questions or to direct you to additional resources.
Contact Rachel Walker
Policy Analysis Manager
(651) 281-1236 or (800) 925-1122
Contact Lena Gould
(651) 281-1245 or (800) 925-1122