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ORDINANCE 05-022  

Introduced by:  Robert S. Weiner

Co-Sponsored by:  Bell, Cartier, Clark, Hollins, Powell, Sheldon, Smiley, Tackett, Tansey, Venezky

                                 Date of introduction: March 8, 2005

ORDINANCE 05-022

As amended by Oral Amendment No. 1

TO AMEND NEW CASTLE COUNTY CODE CHAPTER 2,
THE CODE OF ETHICS, ETHICS COMMISSION
AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW

            WHEREAS, the New Castle County Ethics Commission in a January 7, 2005 letter to Council recommended a package of suggested legislative changes to improve the Code of Conduct and the County's financial disclosure requirements; and

            WHEREAS, this amendment seeks to incorporate the suggestions by the New Castle County Ethics Commission.

            NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNTY OF NEW CASTLE HEREBY ORDAINS:

            Section 1.  New Castle County Code Chapter 2 ("Administration"), Division 2.03.100 ("Code of Ethics"), Section 2.03.102 ("Definitions") is hereby amended by deleting the material in brackets and adding the material that is underscored.

Sec. 2.03.102.  Definitions.

            The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this Division, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this Section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

            Aggregate.

            Honoraria means fees received for speeches, written articles and participation in discussion groups and similar activities, but does not include reimbursement for expenses...

            Source means any person who is a provider of an item reportable under Section 2.03.107 and the term includes identification of all members of a group of persons who act in concert to provide the reportable item....

            Section 2.  New Castle County Code Chapter 2 ("Administration"), Division 2.03.100 ("Code of Ethics"), Section 2.03.106 ("Financial disclosure: statements required") is hereby amended by deleting the material in brackets and adding the material that is underscored.

Sec. 2.03.106.  Financial disclosure:  statements required.

            A.

B.     Each candidate for County office shall file a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the Commission [on or before] not later than 7 days after the last day for giving notice of candidacy pursuant to 15 Del. C. Sec. 101 et seq.

C.     .

D.     No County official or employee shall be allowed to take the oath of office or enter or continue upon his or her duties, nor shall he or she receive compensation from County funds, unless he or she has filed a statement of financial interests as required by this division.

1.      If the Commission determines that a filing has not been made or that a filing is deficient, the Commission shall provide a written notice to the individual required to file, identifying the deficiency or delinquency and reciting the penalties for failure to file.

2.      The individual notified in accord with Subsection D (1) has 10 calendar days from the mailing date of the notice to correct the delinquency or deficiencies.

3.      If the individual fails to file or correct the noted deficiencies by the conclusion of the 10-day period, the Commission may issue a notice by certified mail to the individual that a civil penalty of $10.00 per day is being imposed for each calendar day the statement of financial interests remains delinquent or deficient beyond the 10-day period.  The individual shall pay any such penalty before the Commission may accept a filing from the individual.

4.      The penalty described in Subsection D (3) is in addition to other penalties provided by law and the filing of a statement of financial interests in compliance with this section does not otherwise obviate the failure to comply with Sections 2.03.106(A), (B), or (C).

5.      An individual who receives the notice described in Section 2.03.106(D)(3) and who knowingly or willfully fails to pay the penalty imposed by the Commission shall be subject to the sanctions contained in Section 1.01.009 of the New Castle County Code.

E..

Section 3.  New Castle County Code Chapter 2 ("Administration"), Division 2.03. 100 ("Code of Ethics"), Section 2.03.103 ("Prohibitions relating to conflicts of interest") is hereby amended by deleting the material in brackets and adding the material that is underscored, as set forth below.

Sec. 2.03.103.  Prohibitions relating to conflicts of interest.

            A.

F.  Criminal sanctions.  Any person who knowingly or willfully violates any provision of this Division shall be subject to the sanctions contained in Section [1-9] 1.01.009 of the New Castle County Code.

Section 4.  New Castle County Code Chapter 2 ("Administration"), Division 2.04.100 ("Ethics Commission"), Section 2.04.103 ("Investigations"), is hereby amended by deleting the material in brackets and adding the material that is underscored, as set forth below.

Sec. 2.04.103.  Investigations.

A.     Upon complaint signed under penalty of perjury by any person or upon its own motion, the Ethics Commission shall, through its Ethics Counsel, conduct a preliminary inquiry into any alleged violation of this Division and Division 2.03.100 of this Chapter. The Commission shall keep information, records and proceedings related to a preliminary inquiry confidential.  The preliminary inquiry shall be limited to publicly-available information.  The Commission shall, however, have the authority to refer the case to law enforcement officials during a preliminary inquiry or any time thereafter without providing notice to the subject of the inquiry.  The Commission shall complete its preliminary inquiry within sixty (60) days of its initiation..

F.   Hearings conducted pursuant to this Section.The determination of the Commission, in the form of a final order and findings of fact, shall be a matter of public record; provided, however, that the Commission may make such deletions and changes as shall be necessary to protect the identify of the persons involved when the sanction imposed or recommended by the Commission involves a letter of notification [,] or letter of admonition [, or reprimand] as provided in Section 2.04.104.  When the sanction recommended is suspension or removal from office or prohibition on future employment or appointment, the Commission shall publish the elected or nonelected violator's name in the final order..

L.   The Commission may not conduct an investigation of a current or former official or employee more than five (5) years after the alleged occurrence of a violation of this Division or Division 2.03.100 of this Chapter.  It is, and has been, County Council's intention that the Commission have jurisdiction over current and former officials and employees who allegedly commit a violation while in the service of the County regardless of whether or not such person is serving in such capacity when the investigation commences.  Clarification of the Commission's existing jurisdiction is not to be construed as an expansion of its jurisdiction. 

M.  Any person who knowingly or willfully interferes with a Commission investigation violates this division and is subject to the criminal sanctions contained in Section 1.01.009 of the New Castle County Code.

Section 5.  New Castle County Code Chapter 2 ("Administration"), Division 2.04.100 ("Ethics Commission), Section 2.04.104 ("Sanctions") is hereby amended by deleting the material in brackets and adding the material that is underscored, as set forth below.

Sec. 2.04.104.  Sanctions.

If the Ethics Commission determines that a violation of this Division or Division 2.03.100 of this Chapter has occurred, it may impose or recommend the following sanctions:.

D.                            A recommendation of removal from office or employment, [or] a recommendation of suspension from office or employment, and/or a recommendation for prohibition on future appointment or employment, as well as a recommendation for length of suspension, shall be the appropriate sanction when the Commission finds a serious or repeated violation of this Division or Division 2.03.100 of this Chapter has been committed intentionally or through knowing disregard of this Division or Division 2.03.100 of this Chapter by a nonelected official or County employee.

E.               Any nonelected person determined by the Commission to (1) have committed an intentional or knowing serious or repeated violation of this Division or Division 2.03.100 of this Chapter and for whom a recommendation of prohibition on future appointment or employment has been made; or (2) been convicted of official misconduct, profiteering, bribery, receiving unlawful gratuities, improper influence or other abuse of office or position shall not be appointed or employed in New Castle County government for a period of ten (10) years subsequent to that recommendation or conviction.  After the expiration of such ten (10) year period, the County shall take such recommendation or conviction into account in determining whether or not to hire the person.

F.

 An order imposing the costs of investigation against a person found in violation of this Chapter if a recommendation of removal from office or employment or a recommendation of prohibition on future appointment or employment is made, or an order against the complainant if, after investigation, a complaint is found to be frivolous.  The Commission or the County shall have standing to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to seek enforcement of an order requiring such restitution.  This restitution requirement shall be in addition to other penalties provided for in this Chapter.

            Section 6.  This ordinance shall become effective immediately upon passage by the New Castle County Council and approval by the County Executive or as otherwise provided by State law.

Adopted by County Council of New Castle County on: 4/12/05

SYNOPSIS:    This ordinance makes changes to the Code of Conduct and the Statements of Financial Interest recommended by the Ethics Commission.

FISCAL NOTE:  There will be no discernable fiscal impact upon the adoption of this ordinance. 

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Latest News:
7/24/2017
  DuPont Country Club sale worries neighbors. News Journal
7/11/2017
  Open Checkbook portal seeks to make New Castle Co. government more transparent
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  How New Castle County spends your tax dollars; Weiner has long supported openness and transparency
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