Charlotte City Council revises ethics policy

Charlotte City Council revises ethics policy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When Patrick Cannon, Charlotte's former mayor, was arrested on federal corruption charges last year, it sent a jolt through city government.

For the last 11 months, some council members have been working on reviewing and revising the city council's ethics policy to prevent a repeat of the Cannon saga.

The former mayor is sitting in federal prison after pleading guilty to a bribery charge.

In a federal affidavit, federal agents said Cannon was ready to sell the influence and power of the Mayor's office to help men whom he thought were developers.

On Monday, city leaders said a review of the city zoning ordinance shows no evidence of inappropriate influence.

Council member David Howard said "there's not a lot we can do as a policy body that would have stopped what happened. If somebody is intent on doing wrong, it's going to happen."

But Howard added that council members can take steps to make sure the public understands that they're taking steps "to put themselves above board."

Monday night, the council voted to stiffen the city's policy on gifts, disclosures, investigations and complaints against council members.

Members can accept gifts from family/extended households; from business, civic, religious, commercial relationships that a reasonable person would conclude is not to influence.

Council members can also accept gifts valued at less than 50 dollars; take anything made available to the public; a memento from a civic event; food and beverages for immediate consumption at business meetings (nominal value), and neighborhood and community meetings.

They can accept tickets, food, beverages where they're representing the City and legitimate city purpose in doing so.

One council member wanted to ban accepting tickets to events.

Council member Kenny Smith said "I cannot think of any city business that can be conducted in a sports stadium that cannot be conducted on the 15th floor."

Other council members say they do conduct work at those events, and voted down the idea.

If someone lodges a complaint against a council member, an independent third party will conduct investigations into such complaints.

The city council also put in place economic disclosures.

Council members will have to reveal $10,000 or more in real estate owned in the city, leased to and from the city, bought from/sold to the city, personal property leased to/from city.

There's also a disclosure requirement for stock options worth more than $10,000 in companies doing or seeking to business.

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