Commissioners to consider ethics committee appointments on Jan. 2

In response to conflict of interest issues in this year’s Community Development Block Grant funding allocations, the City Commission created en ethics committee during an October meeting.

They established a committee to include three independent resident members, appointed by the commission, for not more than three consecutive three-year terms.

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The committee would work in conjunction with the city attorney’s office to resolve any actual or potential conflicts of interest involving city officials.

On Jan. 2, commissioners, including Mary Sheehy Moe and Owen Robinson at their first meeting, are scheduled to make appointments to the committee.

Four people submitted applications to serve on the committee.

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The applicants are John Hackwith, Carmen Roberts, Carl Rostad and Katrina Stark.

Hackwith is a Navy veteran with a law enforcement background. Roberts is the finance and operations manager at Great Falls College MSU. Rostad is a retired federal prosecutor. Stark is a professor at the University of Providence.

View all of the applications here.

Staff is making no recommendations on the appointments and leaving it to commissioners to make their selections.

Staff has suggested, in order to stagger terms for the members of the ethics committee, that commissioners appoint one member for an initial three-year term, another be appointed for an initial two-year term and the third member be appointed for an initial one year term.

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Committee members must be qualified electors and residents of the city and should have experience and/or training in public administration, governmental operation, political practices or legal practice. Committee members cannot be city employees.

The ethics committee was established by ordinance in October and the purpose, according to the city, is to ensure city officers and employees are performing their duties in compliance with the provisions of state law and city code.

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The committee doesn’t have a regular meeting schedule, but will convene as ethical issues arise and be presented with testimony regarding those matters. Generally the committee will meet on the first Wednesday of the month after a matter has been referred to it.

Based on the information and testimony provided, the committee shall, according to the city,

  • make a written finding, filed with the city clerk, as to whether there is an appearance of a violation of any provision of state law or city code;
  • make a written finding, filed with the city clerk, as to whether the appearance of a violation rises to the level of an actual violation;
  • and make a written recommendation, filed with the city clerk, in consultation with the city attorney’s office, as to the correct course of action to eliminate any violation and/or reduce the appearance of any violation.

Commissioners have the option to appoint one or more applicants to the ethics committee or they could direct staff to readvertise for additional citizen interest.