Ethics Ordinance Now in Effect in Laredo
A long awaited ethics ordinance in the gateway city is now in full effect.
The ordinance covers everyone from city council members, to the mayor, to the city secretary.
"….In some cases it's going to change the way some people are used to doing. Acceptance of tickets or certain or gifts that might be above the parameters established in the order itself."
The ordinance is designed for many reasons, but conflicts of interest, gifts and protecting confidential information are some for the main topics.
In the city's ordinance city officials cannot accept gifts of nominal value over $250 from any lobbyist or those seeking to do business with the city.
Compared to other cities San Antonio city officials said they must disclose any amounts over $50, but in Houston city officials say there’s is $250 as well.
"It's not to the point where we could be getting a $250 gift everyday. As long as it’s not cumulative to over $500 and it's only a one shot basis."
City employees and officials cannot receive more than a cumulative of $500 in one year from person or business.
This new ethics ordinance is also written so former employees cannot benefit from city contracts after their employment or term of office is complete for at least one year.
"You don't want individuals that might be formulating an action that they are going to be deriving a benefit once they leave. For an example, me to formulate a big contract that I am going to be hired out of after the contract; therefore, getting a direct benefit from a proposed legislation. So it makes sense."
This new ordinance is also designed to protect city officials and employees from 'frivolous' complaints by providing penalties.
The ordinance was not formulated by city staff or council, but was written by the ethics commission.
That commission is made from one appointee from each city council member.