One of the key issues that I raised and ran on in my 2008 campaign for city council was the need for an independent ethics commission. The pressure that citizens put on for this led to the implementation shortly after my election. I am grateful that we have this organization, and it is filled with people that are NOT appointed by city hall.
Complaint 1 – pertaining to the handling of a conflict of interest – Dismissed 4-1 with Ray Schmitz dissenting based on the timing of some events (I think).
Complaint 2 – pertaining to more serious unethical behavior – Dismissed 5-0, and pretty emphatically at that.
There was a concern over how city administration handled the situation and it will be the topic of the next Ethics Commission meeting.
In summary, Richard Freese has done just about everything right, even in the midst of some unfortunate situations. Richard looks about as clean as anyone could have hoped for. I have been particularly impressed with how nice of a job Richard has continued to do in the midst of all this in the background.
While I can’t and won’t comment on future complaints, I think dragging this on further might be viewed by the commission has harassing or vindictive. I would say that Dr. Brad Erickson may not be happy with the situation, however his complaints should be with himself for not securing his desired contractual agreements with the developer at the time he purchased his home. In short, the city engineer and county planning are not responsible for his oversight. Nor should the change laws on the fly to give him a desired outcome at the expense of a developers ability to responsibly develop.
In a related story, the Orchard Hills Villas are coming along, it looks like they are close to starting a 9th and 10th unit. If you are looking for a great low maintenance place to live I think you should give them a call. This is a very well done subdivision. A text book example of infill development even though it is fairly low density.
I attended my first ethical practices board meeting today and witnessed a group that was more thorough, well prepared, intelligent, and complete that just about any body that I have ever seen (including my own…) The group had hired an outside investigator to investigate the complaints. While the report is not public, it was clear at the meeting that the report clearly indicated that absolutely nto preferential treatment was given and all processes were handled properly. The board overwhelming commented on how well the report was done.
- Chair Joe O’Toole commented on how the report compared to a while done criminal investigation.
- Ray Schmitz commented that the development process needs to be more transparent. I agree, but it would not have affected this particular complaint.
- Joe O’Toole commented that that there was not support of the claim that there was intentional non-reporting.
- Joe O’Toole commented that “finding 4” was key as it said there was no preferential treatment.
- Joe O’Toole commented that the city documented the development process well.
- Kay Batchelder moved to dismiss both complaints.
- Kay Batchelder said handling of the complaint by administration was sloppy.
- Entire board agreed that city ordinance obligates administration to forward ethics concerns to commission.
The board also spectifically answered 3 questions that I submitted.
1) Did a conflict of interest exist between Richard Freese and Michael Younge?
Commission said NO
2) Was Richard Freese aware of the conflict and was it handled appropriately?
Commission said YES
3) If a conflict of interest did exist were any actions taken that were uncustomary or inappropriate?
Despite the lack of a conflict of interest the commission went so far as to say NO to this as well.
I also asked about staff’s obligation to report which will be handled at the next meeting.