Maricopa City hall
Maricopa City Hall

Article VIII of the Maricopa City Code sets out a Code of Ethics for the Mayor and City Council:

ARTICLE VIII. CODE OF ETHICS

SEC. 2-131. Policy

(a) It is the policy of the City of Maricopa to uphold, promote and demand the highest standards of ethics from its Mayor and City Council. The Mayor and the City Council shall maintain the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties, avoid any improprieties in their roles as public servants, comply with all applicable laws and never use their city position or powers improperly or for personal gain. By operating with these values, the City shall build, maintain, and enhance the trust of the public, staff and fellow Council Members. This Code of Ethics has been created to ensure that all elected officials have clear guidance for carrying out their responsibilities.

(b) All City Officials shall obey and observe the letter and spirit of the constitution and laws of the United States of America, the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, and the code, laws and policies of the City of Maricopa applicable to City Officials, including the City’s Code of Ethics.

(c) As a prerequisite for exercising any power of office, each City Official is required to read and agree in writing to comply with the provisions of these laws, regulations, policies and this Ethics Code.

SEC. 2-132. Definitions For the purposes of interpretation of this Article, the following words and phrases shall mean:

(a) City Official – the Mayor and members of the City Council.

(b) Ethics Code – the provisions set forth in this Article VIII. Except as otherwise provided herein, the words, terms, and phrases used in this Article shall have the meanings ascribed to them in Title 38 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and the City Code, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.

SEC. 2-133. Code of Ethical Conduct

(a) Operate in an Open, Accessible, and Transparent Manner and Adhere to All Applicable Laws At All Times

(1) The citizens of Maricopa expect and deserve open government. City Officials shall comply with all open meetings and public records laws as set forth in A.R.S. §§ 38-431 through 431.09 and §§ 39-121through 121.03.

(2) City Officials shall conduct city business with transparency, seeking public input as advisable or appropriate, in a manner that fully adheres to and preferably exceeds state law regarding open meetings and transparency of actions and shall not circumvent the open meeting law, or the spirit of the law, by using technology, a “hub and spoke” 16 Added Article VIII by Ordinance 13-12 Adopted on 11/05/2013 scheme, or any technique involving less than a quorum yet designed to communicate with a quorum of the public body.

(3) City Officials shall be accessible, open and conduct city business with transparency.

(b) Conflicts of Interest

(1) City Officials shall not be involved in any activity which creates a conflict of interest with their responsibilities to the City and its residents as defined by Arizona law.

(2) City Officials shall disclose and make known actual or perceived conflicts of interest as required by Arizona law.

(3) When a known conflict of interest arises, the City Official involved shall disclose the conflict as soon as reasonably practical and shall refrain from participating in any manner in the city’s decision-making processes on the matter as a City Official, including voting on the matter or attending meetings with, having written or verbal communications with, or offering advice to any member of the City Council, or any city employee, contractor, agent, member of a city board, commission, committee, task force, other appointed advisory group or agency (other than the city attorney when the City Official is seeking legal advice regarding a possible conflict).

(4) During a public meeting when an agenda item in which a City Official has a conflict of interest comes up for consideration, the City Official shall state publicly that he or she has a conflict, recuse himself or herself, and leave the room while the matter is being discussed and acted upon by others on the public body.

(c) Serve Public Interests Over a Council Member’s Personal Interests

(1) City Officials have the obligation to put the interests of the City of Maricopa over all personal considerations.

(2) The goal should be to balance what is in the best interest for the broadest public good of the City, consistent with constitutional and other legal protection for minority, property and other interests.

(3) City Officials shall use discretionary funds and City resources for public interest rather than personal interests.

(4) City Officials shall avoid favoritism and retribution. (d) Undue Influence and Appearance of Impropriety

(1) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to influence Council decisions or City staff actions in favor of individuals, organizations or companies that may directly benefit the individual City Official.

(2) Ask “Does this pass the headline test?”

(3) City Officials shall follow applicable gift policies and laws regarding disclosure and acceptance of gifts, including, but not limited to, gifts of travel, entertainment and sports/athletic activities and events.

(4) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her personal relationships with staff, businesses or others for inappropriate or personal benefit.

(5) City Officials shall avoid the appearance or reality of monetary gain or “quid pro quo”.

(6) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to gain personal, professional, or financial advantage for the individual City Official or his or her direct family member. (As “direct family member” is defined in the City Code.)

(e) Professionalism and Courtesy

(1) During meetings and all public appearances, City Officials shall treat each other, speakers, invited guests, residents, businesses, staff and general public with professionalism, courtesy, respect and dignity, and shall:

  • Be attentive, respectful and polite
  • Avoid personal disparaging comments or references
  • Focus on the action, not the individual  Respect differences
  • Be cognitive of demeanor and appearance
  • Be respectful of schedules and agendas and responsive to all communications
  • Be on time, prepared and ready to execute the duties and tasks of the position
  • Avoid inappropriate actions and behavior that could reflect poorly upon the City or fellow City Officials

(2) At the City workplace, at any City event and at all times while representing the City, including traveling on City business, City Officials shall treat each other, staff and the general public with professionalism, courtesy, respect and dignity, and shall:

  • Respect and embrace the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)
  • Be sensitive to differences in race, age, gender, disabilities, religious beliefs, political affiliation and national origin
  • Strive to create an environment that is productive and free from gossip, rumors, intimidation, harassment, threats, retaliation, violence, hostility, and other adversity
  • Avoid behavior and comments considered unacceptable in the workplace, such as inappropriate and demeaning comments, stories, humor and jokes
  • Avoid sexual harassment, such as sexual conversations, sexual innuendos, and other comments that may be perceived as sexual in nature
  • Keep personal and professional relationships separate

(f) Respect and Abide by the Council-Manager Form of Government

(1) Under the council-manager form of government, the City Council appoints a City Manager, who directs the day-to-day operations of all employees. City Officials should be sensitive to the role of the City Manager and shall not circumvent the appropriate chain of command by directing City staff.

(2) City Officials shall not interfere with the hiring, promotion, transfer, discipline, compensation or termination of any employee, other than those positions identified in the City Code that serve at the pleasure of the City Council.

(3) City Officials shall not interfere with or exert influence over the City’s procurement process, except in an official capacity acting as Council as a whole.

(g) Use of City Equipment, Property and Resources

(1) City Officials shall adhere to City rules and policies on the use of City property, City logo, and City letterhead or other approved City communication tools, materials or publications.

(2) City Officials shall use City issued equipment in accordance with City policies and shall not use City equipment or facilities for private purposes, unless such use is generally available to the public.

(3) Any personal emails, faxes or use of other communications generated by the use of City equipment should be considered public information. As such, City Officials shall use City-assigned electronic mail accounts for City business only and not for personal business or for campaign purposes.

(4) City Officials shall not disclose or use executive session information or other information deemed confidential under state law without proper authorization.

(h) Communications

(1) City Officials are never “off the record” and should be mindful of communication actions that create a public record.

(2) City Officials shall qualify public comments as either the official position of Council or as a personal opinion and clarify whether Council has or has not acted on the topic (i.e., state “Council hasn’t voted on this matter yet, however, I believe we should go in direction xyz”).

(3) City Officials shall not make public statements or take individual actions on behalf of Council unless expressly authorized by Council.

(4) City Officials shall use all communication platforms to constructively benefit the City.

(5) City Officials shall communicate to fellow Council Members, the City Manager and/or the City Attorney any information that could negatively affect the operation or image of the City Council or the City to avoid a situation where such information is first learned from the media or outside sources.

(6) When appropriate or advisable, City Officials should notify appropriate City staff regarding all media contacts.

SEC. 2-134. Reporting Ethics Violations

Council Members have a duty to report violations of the Code of Ethics or any misconduct that raises a substantial question as to a Member’s integrity or fitness as a public official. Council shall serve as a committee of the whole for purposes of Code of Ethics enforcement, which includes a reasonable process for investigating complaints that affords the subject of a complaint a full and fair opportunity to be heard. The City benefits from formal and informal reporting procedures that encourage prompt resolution of grievances and concerns.

(a) Informal Reporting Procedures

Before initiating the formal complaint process, a grievant should make every reasonable effort to resolve issues constructively in an informal manner, unless such efforts would be futile or inadequate to address the nature and severity of the alleged violation.

(1) Whenever possible, a grievant should first discuss concerns with the alleged violator.

(2) Either party may request the assistance of a neutral third-party to facilitate discussions about the complaint. Both parties must agree to use the neutral third-party.

(b) Formal Reporting Procedures A grievant may initiate the formal complaint process when informal efforts are futile, unsuccessful, or inadequate to address the nature and severity of the alleged violation. A person who knowingly makes a false, misleading, or unsubstantiated statement in a complaint may be subject to criminal prosecution for perjury and civil liability.

(1) The grievant shall inform the alleged violator of the intent to initiate the formal complaint process.

(2) The grievant shall submit a formal complaint to the City Manager and City Attorney within ninety (90) days from the date the grievant first became aware of the alleged violation or within one (1) year from the date of the alleged violation.

(3) The complaint shall provide:

i. The name of the grievant;

ii. The name of the alleged violator;

iii. The nature of the alleged violation, including the specific provision of the Code of Ethics or law allegedly violated;

iv. A statement of facts describing relevant conduct and dates;

v. Copies of relevant documents or materials and/or a list of unavailable, relevant documents or materials;

vi. A list of relevant witnesses; and

vii. An affidavit stating that the information contained in the complaint is true and correct, and stating the grievant has good reason to believe and does believe that the facts alleged constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics.

(4) The City Manager and City Attorney or designee shall gather relevant facts, documents, witness statements, interview the alleged violator, and gather other information relevant to the complaint.

(5) The City Attorney or designee shall prepare a recommendation to Council.

(6) The complaint and recommendation shall be submitted to the entire Council for review at a duly convened executive session. All laws pertaining to executive sessions shall apply, including the right of the alleged violator to an open hearing.

i. Council shall review the complaint and recommendation, and consult with the City Attorney or designee to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred and whether sanctions are warranted

ii. If there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, the matter may be placed on a Regular Council Meeting agenda for action.

(A) A 2/3 vote of the Council (of the Members Present) at a Regular Council Meeting shall be required for a determination that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.

(B) A 2/3 vote of the Council (of the Members Present) at a Regular Council Meeting shall be required for sanctions.

SEC. 2-135. Sanctions Any Council Member found in violation of this Code of Ethics may face the following sanctions:

(a) Warning

(b) Letter of reprimand

(c) Public censure by the Council, which may include:

(1) Loss of assignments;

(2) Loss of power to appoint members to City Boards, Commissions and Committees;

(3) Loss of Council discretionary funds;

(4) Loss of City-related travel privileges;

(d) A demand for non-monetary restitution (e.g., a public apology, the return of gifts); and/or

(e) A demand for reimbursement of administrative, legal, and/or investigation costs and expenses incurred in investigating and prosecuting the violation of the Code of Ethics. Serious infractions of the Code of Ethics or other intentional and repeated conduct in violation of this Article VIII may result in other sanctions as deemed appropriate by Council. Violations of state law provisions described herein shall be punished as provided for in state law. The language used in imposing sanctions will be consistent and follow a specific format as established by the Council.

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