June 21st, 2024

Council considering integrity commissioner position

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 20, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council has tasked its Governance Standing Policy Committee with further investigating the possibility of creating an Integrity Commissioner position.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council passed a resolution asking the SPC to report back to council no later than March 1. Specifically, the SPC will be tasked with focusing on two of three options presented by solicitor Adam Faust.
To create such a position would require the amendment of Council Code of Conduct Bylaw 6125.
Options brought forward by Faust include broadening the ability to pursue a complaint from only council members to the public as a whole.
The second option is to hire an integrity commissioner on a retainer basis while the third option, 2(b), is to hire a commissioner who would also provide ethical advice. This latter option 2(b) is administration’s preference, council was told.
Under the existing code of conduct bylaw, only council members can file a complaint that a fellow member has acted in breach of that bylaw.
Administration’s report says that opening complaints up to the public could create better transparency and increase public confidence in government. Both Edmonton and Calgary have full-time integrity commissioners.
Funding from the hiring of a commissioner would likely come from city council surplus, says the report.
Administration’s recommendation is for council to approve 2(b) because it lets the integrity commissioner “filter and investigate complaints. This is good for ensuring compliance and correcting contraventions. However, it also adds the education piece which can avoid compliance and continue to grow ethical situations in the future,” says the report.
“The public cannot actually initiate a complaint and so one of the ways of solving these problems has been seen as potentially creating the integrity commissioner position and this would actually, if we move forward with what’s being recommended, would allow the public to bring forth concerns about any member of council. It would also have an outside investigator,” deputy mayor Belinda Crowson told council at the meeting.
Faust told council the goal of an ethics program “isn’t actually to catch the wrongdoers. It’s to establish and promote public trust for the officials that are acting and ensure they’re acting in the community’s best interests.
“As councillors you’re making decisions internally. The public doesn’t know your hearts and your minds so they’re judging your decisions based upon from what they see from the outside looking in. And they likely don’t have all the information that you have before you when you make these decisions,” said Faust.
“If you’re looking at our code of conduct bylaw, it is encapsulated in there that you as councillors are held to a higher standard of behaviour and you need to be aware that the lines of private and public are not easily distinguishable by the public. If you look at that code of conduct, what it really does though, is it sets the minimum standard. It’s drawing a line in the sand of what is OK ethically and what’s not.
“But what it doesn’t do by itself is increase public trust and confidence in the decision-making process. And as a councillor, you could be voting onside with the code but it could be potentially problematic when viewed through the public lens,” he said.

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Citi Zen

Wow! Yet another non-productive city hall position, likely to a friend of someone in City Hall.
Does the embattled taxpayer really need another haired-over stump in an innocuous overpaid, work from home job, With benefits?

Last edited 2 years ago by Citi Zen