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Monday, January 16, 2012

Are city residents invited to witness and observe development of city ethics code ? When will meetings be held ? Don't tell us it is a back room, behind the scenes deal which doesn't sound very ethical. Early media accounts don't mention city residents. Please Advise!

 In an article  in Downtown Birmingham Bloomfield (the on line section dated 1/13/2012) the following appeared.

"The Bloomfield Hills City Commission announced at their Tuesday, January 10 meeting, they were beginning the process of writing an ethics code to govern all city officials, leaders and employees."

What follows is excerpts from  the article and are are printed in blue. If  you would like to read the entire article  click here.City Commissioner, Sarah McClure is the only  commissioner quoted, states "Our city charter has some broad ethics guidelines, but in today's day and age, some of us felt we needed some more specific criteria, so myself, city clerk Amy Burton, and city manager Jay Cravens are looking at some other communities' ethics codes, and will be developing a specific code for our city,"

The  development of  a  code of conduct  for those hired, elected or appointed  to serve our  city of  4000 people is very important to our residents and many would like to observe the workings of our city commission in developing such a code. We believe we are entitled to do so by the  Michigan Open Meetings Act. We realize our participation may be limited to   observation only particularly in the draft stages but that is better than being kept in the dark.
The second paragraph of the article indicates that meetings may have already started yet  we see no notification of said on the city website.

(Commissioner Sarah) McClure said they have begun looking at ethics codes from Troy, Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield, and some municipalities from the western part of Michigan.

Dear Commissioner McClure:Maybe you call each other on the phone but that is not what Open Meetings is all about and because you are public figures you do owe the people the City of Bloomfield Hills more than that. You close the article by saying 

We're trying to adopt best practices, and the ethics code has become an objective."

Well best practices is not something you find only in Troy, West Bloomfield or cities west Grand Rapids. The residents of the City you were elected to represent may not look like much but someday they may surprise you.

Dear Residents:If you are interested in researching municipalities and ethic codes it is really very easy. There is a search engine in top this page. A box beside it says "Search". Underneath are the the words "powered by Google." Type in Ethics Codes and click the search box.Then you will be presented by three boxes.This Blog-Linked From Here-Other News Sources. Choose Other News Sources and relevant stories from The Patch, The Eccentric., The Eagle, and Downtown Birmingham Bloomfield will appear. The mini search engine by Google's own admission, works better with distant matters than more recent ones. To simplify even further there is an excellent article by Lisa Brody  in  Downtown Publications   which relates to Ethics codes in adjacent cities. The  article dated March 2011 mentions Public Act 196 of 1973 and says that is it  remains the gold standard for ethics policies and standards of conduct for public officers and employees throughout the state. There is also Handbook for Municipal Officials Published by the Michigan Municipal League, November 2005. That is 200 pages long. If you just with the five or so pages they devote to Ethics  click on the red highlighted words.

P.S.The above is just a start. Do plan to attend ethic code development meetings when announced.

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