Differences between city and county ethics policies - | WBTV Charlotte

Differences between city and county ethics policies


Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James believes the city of Charlotte should use this moment to take a deeper look at its ethics policy. 

He claims his comments are in no relation to former Mayor Patrick Cannon's corruption case. He says he just thinks the city ethics policy is not strong enough.

"I think it is an opportunity for the city to reflect," James said. "And to think about how they do things and think about whether there is some things they can do that might be better."

The last  time the city changed its ethics policy was back in 2010. That was right after the investigation into former city council member Warren Turner alleged inappropriate comments to staff. 

The last time the county updated its ethics policy was last year.

County Commissioner Kim Ratliff believes the updated 10 page policy makes a difference.

"If you are out," Ratliff said. "And you come across the situation where you are not sure - you refer to the policy and that will help you make the right decision as to what to do and what not to do."

There are some differences between the city and county ethics policy.  The county's policy states commissioners are required to take a two hour ethics education training within 12 months of their election to office.  Also commissioners must get additional training each year while in office.

There is no mention of ethics education training in the city's ethics policy.  Also in the county's ethics policy, no county official can receive tickets from an event the county financially supports. This includes tickets to CIAA Basketball and Knights Baseball games.

"I am a firm believer," James said. "That if groups do business with government - that elected officials shouldn't be receiving perks from government."

The city's ethics policy is five pages long.  It states it's up to individual city council members to determine what is appropriate.  The policy also states council members "must be above reproach and they should not use their official position for personal gain."

We reached out to Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes looking for his thoughts about if he thinks the city's ethics policy is strong enough.  So far no response.

James says if the city thinks its policy is strong enough, then fine.

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