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Montgomery County Ethics Commission
Text of Waivers - 1990

W-90-01 [Waiver 1990-1]

MEMORANDUM
April 24, 1990
TO: Judith Byerly, Community Health Nurse
Wheaton Health Center
FROM: Donald E. Jefferson, Chairman
Montgomery County Ethics Commission
SUBJECT: Request for Waiver

The Ethics Commission has reviewed your memorandum of April 4, 1990 regarding your desire to rent your condo to a client of the Wheaton Health Center where you are currently stationed. Based on the information you have provided, the Commission has granted a waiver for this request with the condition that you do not render services to this person. If your renter is not transferred to another health center and it becomes necessary for you to provide services to her, you will be required to request a modification of this waiver through your supervisor so that appropriate work assignments for you can be arranged.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commission's attention.

 

W-90-002 [Waiver 1990-2]


May 3, 1990
Ms. Esmie V. Parchment

 

Dear Ms. Parchment:
The Ethics Commission has received and reviewed your letter of March 23, 1990 concerning your employment with Montgomery County and your purchase of a residential rental building which currently rents to some HOC subsidized parties.
The Commission has determined that it would grant a waiver so that you may lease to tenants who receive HOC subsidies. However, in the event one of those tenants requires services from the Department of Social Services, you must recuse yourself from personally rendering such services. Further, this decision is conditioned on your informing the Director of Social Services of this waiver and on his notifying the Ethics Commission of receipt of that information.
Please review the enclosed information regarding restrictions related to outside employment which address some issues that will pertain to your circumstances. If you have any questions regarding them, please contact our office.

 


W-90-003 [Waiver 1990-3]

May 3, 1990
Mr. A. Mario Loiederman
President
Loiederman Associates, Inc.

Dear Mr. Loiederman:
Thank you for your letter of April 18, 1990 regarding your employment of Jeff Riese, a former county employee with DOT, and your intention to respond to an RFP on a project with DOT.
In reviewing the information you have provided, the Commission has determined that your firm is precluded from pursuing work on the project in question without a waiver of Chapter 19A-13(a). The Commission agreed to grant a waiver, however, to mitigate any appearance of conflict of interest. One of the conditions of the waiver is that your firm and Mr. Riese must sign a formal agreement stipulating that Mr. Riese will not participate in the preparation of the response to the RFP in question. In the event the contract is awarded to your company, Mr. Riese may not participate in work related contracts with the county employees who are in charge of this project. To ensure that these conditions are understood, a copy of this agreement is to be returned to the Ethics Commission as a condition of the waiver being granted.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commission's attention. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact out office.

 


W-90-004 [Waiver 1990-4]

May 7, 1990
Mr. Leonard Taylor, Jr.
Architects Latham & Taylor, P.C.

Dear Mr. Taylor:
The Commission is in receipt of your letter of April 19, 1990 requesting a waiver allowing you to bid on and, if chosen, accept a contract with Montgomery County to provide architectural services described in RFP 05940 while serving on the Historic Preservation Commission.
The Ethics Commission grants this waiver request with the provision that you recuse yourself as an HPC Commissioner from participation on any work which comes before that Commission for review as a result of the contract. In the event that you must recuse yourself from any decision of the HPC, you must inform the Ethics Commission of the recusal. These recusals must become a part of the official records of the HPC's meetings with reasons for each. If the contract requires work to be performed for DHCH, you will require a waiver from the Ethics Commission for each specific DHCH related task.
You have further requested our opinion as to what would be appropriate if you were asked to renovate an historic resource. Assuming that this resource is privately held, you may accept the work. However, you would be required to recuse yourself from any decisions that might be required of the HPC concerning work permits, etc., regarding this resource. These recusals would become part of the official records of the HPC and must be reported to the Ethics Commission. Acceptance of this type of work would be conditioned on your not recommending and voting on an historic designation for a resource whose owner is a client of yours at that time. In any of the instances where you must recuse yourself, you may request a waiver which, under some circumstances, may be granted.
We trust that this response answers all of your questions. If the Commission may be of further assistance, please contact out office.

 


W-90-05 [Waiver 1990-5]

MEMORANDUM
May 9, 1990
TO: William R. Selby, Management & Budget Specialist
Department of Transportation
FROM: Donald E. Jefferson, Chairman
Ethics Commission
SUBJECT: Outside Employment
The Ethics Commission has reviewed your memorandum of April 17, 1990 regarding your partnership with LSW Accounting and Tax Services and its business relationship with Stewart Management, a contractor with Montgomery County. In order to comply with the Ethics Law, you will require a waiver. The Commission has granted this waiver after considering the information you have provided as well as the recommendation of your department.
This waiver is granted with the stipulations previously placed on your outside employment as well as the condition that you permanently refrain from rendering any services for Stewart Management.
Please review the enclosed materials pertaining to outside employment and feel free to contact the Commission office if you have any questions.

 


W-90-06 [Waiver 1990-6]

May 22, 1990
Mr. Philip L. Cantelon
President
History Associates Incorporated

Dear Mr. Cantelon:
Thank you for providing the Ethics Commission with additional information concerning the waiver request you made concerning your participation as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) in a matter in which a member of a law firm engaged by your company for other purposes presented testimony.
Based on the information it has reviewed, the Commission believes that there is a possibility, probably unknown by the participants involved, of the appearance of impropriety. However, the remoteness of this possibility is such that the Commission has deemed it appropriate to grant a waiver for you to continue your usual responsibilities as a member of HPC in this matter.

 


W-90-07 [Waiver 1990-7]

June 11, 1990
Mr. John Eichelberger

Dear Mr. Eichelberger:
The Ethics Commission reviewed your request for a waiver to accept employment with Recycling, Inc., a subcontractor of Laidlaw Waste System.
In consideration of your retirement from the county government as well as the information submitted to the Commission, the Commission finds that there is no conflict of interest or appearance thereof, and grants you a waiver of the Ethics Law.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commission's attention.

 


W-90-08 [Waiver 1990-8]

June 11, 1990
Mr. Philip L. Cantelon

Dear Mr. Cantelon:
The Ethics Commission is in receipt of your letter of May 3, 1990 requesting a waiver allowing History Associates, Inc. to contract with the Department of Libraries to operate the Montgomery County Archives.
Based on the information you have provided, the Commission finds that there is no conflict of interest and grants a waiver of Section 11B-52 of the Montgomery County Code.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commission's attention and please let us know if we may be of further service.


Opinion 1990-2 W [Waiver 1990-8A]
MEMORANDUM
June 12, 1990
TO: Lewis T. Roberts
Chief Administrative Officer
FROM: Donald E. Jefferson, Chairman [signed]
Ethics Commission
RE: Police Officer Residential Discounts
Opinion 1990-2 W
By memorandum dated May 15, 1990, you asked the Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion regarding the propriety of police officers accepting rent discounts from owners or managers of certain apartment complexes in Montgomery County. If the Commission finds that accepting a rent discount technically violates the ethics law, you requested a waiver to allow police officers to accept these discounts.
The Ethics Commission understands that the amounts of discounts vary widely. The Commission also notes that according to certain press accounts, police officers are offered other inducements such as a waiver of credit check charges and the requirement to post a security deposit.
Section 19A-16 prohibits a public employee from accepting a gift from any person or entity that owns or operates a business that is regulated by the County agency with which the public employee is affiliated. Providing a rental discount or other inducement to Montgomery County police officers is clearly a gift within the meaning of the Montgomery County Public Ethics Law. See also, Section 19A-4(h).
Montgomery County police officers exercise County-wide authority. Therefore, a police officer may not accept a gift from any person or entity that operates a business in Montgomery County without violating Section 19A-16 of the Montgomery County Public Ethics Law.
Having determined that a police officer would be violating the ethics law by accepting a rent discount from a Montgomery County apartment complex, the Commission must now address your request for a waiver. Section 19A-8 authorizes the Commission to grant a public employee or a class of public employees a waiver of the prohibitions of the ethics law if the Commission finds that:
"1. the best interest of the County would be served by granting the waiver;
2. the importance to the County of a public employee performing his or her official duties outweighs the actual or potential harm of any conflict of interest; and
3. granting the waiver will not give a public employee an unfair advantage over other members of the public."
The Ethics Commission understands that police officers are normally assigned to work within a specific district. Accordingly, a police officer in the ordinary course of performing his or her duties does not directly regulate each and every business within the County. The Commission is also mindful that these rental inducements increase the presence and visibility of police officers by encouraging officers to reside within the County. The Commission agrees with you that this increased presence provides a public benefit. The Commission concludes that allowing a police officer to accept a rental inducement is in the best interest of the County. The Commission also concludes that the importance of a County police officer performing his or her official duties outweighs the potential or actual harm of any conflict of interest that might result from accepting a rental inducement if the inducement is offered by a business that does not operate within the district to which the officer is assigned. Finally, the Commission concludes that granting a waiver would not give a police officer an unfair advantage in competing for an apartment with other members of the public.
The Commission grants, therefore, a waiver to allow a police officer to accept a rental inducement from an owner or manager of an apartment complex if the person or entity providing the inducement does not own or operate a business within the district to which the officer is regularly assigned. For example, if a management company that operates in multiple police districts offers a rental inducement, police officers who are assigned to those districts would be precluded from accepting the inducement. This waiver is also conditioned on the police officer reporting the inducement received to the Montgomery County Ethics Commission and the Chief of Police. The Commission reserves the right to review and revise this waiver based on any new information that may come to the attention of the Commission.
Three additional limitations regarding this opinion and waiver must be noted:
A. This opinion and waiver apply only to rental inducements in which the police officer is not required to provide any service or other benefit to the person or entity providing the inducement. Benefits given in exchange for services require outside employment approval.
B. Police officers who are not assigned to a specific district are not covered by this waiver and must apply for a specific waiver in order to receive a rental inducement.
C. This opinion and waiver apply only to the provisions of the Montgomery County Public Ethics Law. Any Police Department policy that may apply to police officers receiving gifts and the implementation of that policy are not affected by this opinion and waiver.
Finally, the Commission would like any police officer who is contemplating accepting a rental inducement under this waiver to note that reassignment to a different police district may result in having to either forego the rental inducement or move his or her residence.

 


W-90-09 [See ADVISORY OPINION 1990-4A]

 


W-90-10 [Waiver 1990-10]

June 28, 1990
Mr. Leonard Taylor, Jr.
Latham & Taylor, P.C.

Dear Mr. Taylor:
The Ethics Commission has received and reviewed your letter of June 20, 1990 regarding work on 8820 Huntmaster Road, a property listed on the Master Plan for Historic Preservation.
The Commission has determined that your involvement in this project would be in the best interest of the county and grants a waiver for your firm to accept the contract. However, you must recuse yourself from participating in review of the application for this project before the Historic Preservation Commission.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commission's attention.

 


W-90-11 [Waiver 1990-11]

August 3, 1990
Ms. Barbara Norland

Dear Ms. Norland:
The Montgomery Ethics Commission has reviewed your request to be permitted to become a member of the board of the Literacy Council of Montgomery County.
As a member of the board of the Literacy Council, you will be-director-at-large. The responsibilities associated with that post are:
1) overseeing policies of the Council;
2) deciding and voting on the Council's budget and spending of funds; and
3) fund raising activities.
The Literacy Council presently contracts with the Montgomery County Department of Libraries, the department for which you work.
The Commission has determined that your participation on the Literacy Council without a waiver is prohibited and will require a waiver of Section 19A-11(a)(2)(A) of the Ethics Law.
In considering your request the Commission has determined that the contract with the Literacy Council provides funding to the Council to train tutors who will teach reading at different libraries throughout the county. You have indicated that this contract is monitored by Nancy Canada, Special Needs Library Regional Administrator, and that you have no authority or responsibility for this contract in your county job.
In consideration of the above and because the Commission believes that:
1) the best interests of the county would be served by granting you the waiver;
2) the importance to the county of your performing your duties outweighs the actual or potential harm of any conflict of interest; and
3) granting the waiver will not give you an unfair advantages over other members of the public.
The Commission has granted this waiver with the condition that you do not participate in any discussions or voting on any matters that involve the Montgomery County Government contracts with the Literacy Council. Further, the Commission refers you to the enclosed section of the public ethics law, Section 19A-16(a) regarding the solicitation of gifts. Please review this carefully and contact the Commission office if you have any questions.

 


W-90-12 [Waiver 1990-12]

October 9, 1990
Mr. Robert G. Snyder

Dear Mr. Snyder:
The Montgomery County Ethics Commission has reviewed your request for a waiver of the ethics law to allow you to accept employment with a current contractor with Montgomery County for which you acted as a contract monitor.
In regard to your request, two sections of the ethics law must be addressed. Section 19A-13 provides that:
(a) A former public employee must not accept employment or assist any party, other than a County agency, in a case, contract, or other specific matter for 10 years after the last date the employee significantly participated in the matter as a public employee.
(b) For one year after the effective date of termination from County employment, a former public employee must not enter into any employment understanding or arrangement (express, implied, or tacit) with any person or business that contracts with a County agency if the public employee: (1) significantly participated in regulating the person or business; or (2) had official responsibility concerning a contract with the person or business (except a non-discretionary contract with a regulated public utility).
(c) Significant participation means direct administrative or operating authority to approve, disapprove, or otherwise decide government action with respect to a specific matter, whether the authority is intermediate or final, exercisable alone or with others, and exercised personally or through subordinates. It ordinarily does not include program or legislative oversight, or budget preparation, review, or adoption.
Section 19A-14(a) of the codes states that:
A public employee must not intentionally use the prestige of office for private gain or the gain of another. Performing usual and customary constituent services, without additional compensation, is not prohibited by this subsection.
Under Section 19A-8(b), the Commission may grant a waiver of the prohibitions of Section 19A-13 if it finds:
(1) the waiver is needed to ensure that competent services to the County are timely and available;
(2) failing to grant the waiver may reduce the ability of the County to hire or retain highly qualified public employees; or
(3) the proposed employment is not likely to create an actual conflict of interest.
In its consideration of your request, the Commission had three concerns:
(1) Did your county employment place you in an advantageous position for recruitment by the High Technology Council that other persons would not be afforded? (Prestige of office)
(2) How significant was your involvement as the monitor of the High Technology Council contract with Montgomery County?
3. Would your duties as Vice-President of the High Technology Council create an actual conflict of interest?
As to the first question, Dr. Plocilla explained that the recruitment and hiring process was open and competitive. A search committee comprised of members of the Board of Directors of the High Technology Council screened applicants who were then interviewed by the executive committee and a selection of five finalists was made by a subgroup of the executive committee. These finalists were ranked with the highest ranking finalist being offered the position.
Based on this information, the Commission concluded that there has been no violation of Section 19A-14.
In regard to the contract monitoring, your responsibility according to your replies to our inquiries was twofold: to ensure that the High Technology Council produced its quarterly reports and to make recommendations to superiors to pay reimbursement to the High Technology Council in accordance with the membership dues collected as per the guidelines of the county contract. According to you, these activities required a minimal amount of your time. You estimated that 20% of your time, however, was spent in contacts with the High Technology Council on matters of mutual concern to the County and High Technology Council in your official capacity as business academia coordinator. The Commission, therefore, concluded that your contract monitoring responsibilities were minor.
Supplementary information from the High Technology Council and the Chief Administrative Officer indicated that your primary responsibility as Vice-President of the High Technology Council will be to promote in the region (Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, and Frederick) the development of high technology companies. The Chief Administrative Officer has indicated that this activity is consistent with the County's goal of strengthening the climate in Montgomery County for high technology business. Accordingly, the Commission grants you a waiver under Section 19A-8(b)(3) to accept this employment opportunity.
Under Section 19A-8(e) this opinion must be published. If you have any questions regarding the Commission's decision, please contact our office.

 


W-90-13 [Waiver 1990-13]

November 26, 1990
Mr. Clyde H. Sorrell
County Attorney
101 Monroe Street, 3rd Floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Dear Mr. Sorrell:
This letter will confirm the verbal advice given to you after a special Ethics Commission meeting on November 9, 1990, to review your request for a waiver of Section 19A-13(b) of the Ethics Law. Your request was made so that you may seek gainful employment in the private sector now that your term of office as County Attorney is ending.
You have explained to the Commission that for various reasons, the job market in your area of expertise is very limited. You have further explained that the firms of Hogan & Hartson and Smith, Somerville & Case are interested in speaking with you regarding future employment but that both of these firms currently provide legal services to the County. Finally, you have represented to the Commission that your "official responsibility" regarding the County's contracts with these firms has been limited to the following: (1) review and approval of various Smith, Somerville & Case invoices; (2) supervision of the individual who occasionally reviews and comments on various Hogan & Hartson invoices when requested to do so by DOT; (3) recommendation to the County Council that Hogan & Hartson be designated as special counsel for the Garage 49 project. We understand that this recommendation was made by you at the urging of the Department of Transportation.
After fully considering both your written request and your answers to questions posed by the Commission, the Montgomery County Ethics Commission hereby waives Section 19A-13(b)(2) with respect to the two potential employers listed above.
This waiver is based on the Commission's understanding that Hogan & Hartson and Smith, Somerville & Case are not currently representing interests adverse to the County, and is premised on the following findings: (1) that the proposed employment is not likely to create an actual conflict of interest; and (2) that failing to grant the waiver may reduce the ability of the County to hire or retain highly qualified public employees.
As a condition of this waiver, and in recognition of the provision of Section 19A-11(2)(c), the Commission would require that you refrain from any further official review of invoices submitted by these two firms. Accordingly, you should delegate all appropriate authority for these matters to a member of your staff during your final weeks of employment with the County. In the unlikely possibility that some other official contact is required during the time period, we urge you to immediately seek either an advisory opinion or a waiver from this Commission.
The Commission extends its best wishes to you for the future. Please don't hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions regarding these decisions or the need for additional waivers or advisory opinions during your employment search.

 


W-90-14 [Waiver 1990-14]

December 10, 1990
Mrs. Catherine Titus

Dear Mrs. Titus:
This letter will confirm the verbal waiver given to you after a special Ethics Commission meeting held on November 28, 1990.
By letter dated November 26, 1990, you informed the Ethics Commission that you had accepted employment as the confidential aide to Councilmember Betty A. Krahnke. You requested advice concerning the application of Section 19A-11 of the Montgomery County Public Ethics Law to your work as the Councilmember's aide; in addition, you requested the Commission to grant a waiver to allow you to participate as a public employee in matters that may involve a client of your husband or his law firm.
Your letter indicated that your husband, Roger Titus, is a partner in the law firm of Venable, Baetjer & Howard (VBH). VBH is a large, regional firm that currently represents in various matters Montgomery County, Montgomery County Public Schools, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery College, the City of Rockville, the Village of Martin's Additions, the Village of North Chevy Chase, and the Village of Friendship Heights.
Your letter also indicated that as the confidential aide of Councilmember Krahnke your primary responsibilities will be to assist the Councilmember in the operation of her office. We also understand that you may serve as advisor to the Councilmember. Your position, however, will not require you to make final decisions regarding public policy. Given the extensive list of VBH's clients, including the public entities mentioned above, you have asked whether you may participate in a matter if a client of VBH is involved.
Section 19A-11(a)(2)(E) states that a public employee must not participate in a matter that involves a business or individual that is a party to a contract with the public employee or a relative, "if the contract could reasonably result in a conflict between private interests and public duties." A determination of whether this provision would apply to a public employee requires careful analysis of the facts with respect to each case. Accordingly, the Commission concludes that a waiver would be necessary to allow you as a general rule to participate in matters that involve a client of VBH.
Section 19A-8 Authorizes the Commission to grant a waiver from Section 19A-11 if the Commission finds that:
"(1) The best interests of the County would be served by granting the waiver; (2) the importance to the County of a public employee performing his or her official duties outweighs the actual or potential harm of any conflict of interest; and (3) granting the waiver will not give a public employee an unfair advantage over other members of the public."
The Commission notes that the position of confidential aide to a Councilmember is not a merit system appointment and involves a high degree of trust between the aide and the councilmember. Accordingly, the Commission concludes that the best interests of the County would be served by preserving for a councilmember the greatest latitude possible in the selection of a confidential aide. The Commission notes that VBH is a large, regional firm with an extensive client list including public entities. At the same time, a councilmember needs a confidential aide to participate in most matters coming before the Council. Accordingly, the Commission concludes that the benefit of allowing you to participate in matters involving a client of VBH is great while the potential harm of any conflict of interest is small. Finally, the Commission does not believe that granting you this waiver will give you an unfair advantage over other members of the public.
Accordingly, the Commission grants you a waiver to participate in matters involving a client of VBH subject to the following restrictions:
1. You must not discuss or participate as a public employee in any matter in which VBH is acting as a legal representative or is a party.
2. You must disclose to Councilmember Krahnke the identity of any person or entity involved in a matter if you know that person or entity is a client of VBH. This will allow Councilmember Krahnke the opportunity to decide if you should continue to participate in that matter.
Finally, the Commission wishes to remind you that Section 19A-15 prohibits a public employee from disclosing confidential information relating to a County agency if it is not available to the public. You must not use confidential information for personal gain or the gain of another.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commission. If you have any questions regarding this waiver, please do not hesitate to contact the Commission.

 


W-90-15 [Waiver 1990-15]

MEMORANDUM
December 24, 1990
TO: Isiah Leggett, President
Montgomery County Council
FROM: Jay L. Cohen, Chairman
Montgomery County Ethics Commission
SUBJECT: Request for Opinion/Waiver re ICC Vote
The Ethics Commission has reviewed your most recent request for a waiver to allow you, as Council President, to participate in discussions concerning the InterCounty Connector. As you indicated in earlier correspondence to the Commission, your home abuts the proposed right-of-way for the section east of Route 28.
In requesting this waiver you explained that your participation might include chairing meetings and hearings, engaging in discussions, voicing opinions and all other forms of participation except that you intend to refrain from voting on that particular section of the project which may affect your property.
In deciding the merits of a waiver request, the Commission is obliged to determine that:
(1) the best interests of the County would be served by granting the waiver;
(2) the importance to the County of a public employee performing his or her official duties outweighs the actual or potential harm of any conflict of interest; and
(3) granting the waiver will not give a public employee an unfair advantage over other members of the public.
In regard to item (1), the Commission is of the opinion that it is in the best interest of the county that the President of the Council be allowed to perform his official duty of presiding over these discussions and to mediate them. In consideration of item (2), the Commission further believes that your participation in all discussions of the ICC and recusal from voting on the section of the ICC that would abut your property will not constitute an actual or potential conflict of interest. Lastly, the Commission unanimously agreed that granting the waiver will not give you an unfair advantage over other members of the public provided that at all meetings, hearings, worksessions and at any other gatherings you attend at which the ICC is an agenda item, you must publicly disclose that your residence abuts the proposed alignment of the ICC for the section east of Route 28.
Accordingly, subject to your compliance with the provision stated above, the Commission hereby grants the waiver you have requested. Please contact the Ethics Commission if you have any questions concerning this decision.

 


W-90-16 [Waiver 1990-16]

December 24, 1990
Mr. Robert McGarry

Dear Mr. McGarry:
This letter will confirm the verbal advice given to you after a meeting of the Ethics Commission on December 10, 1990, at which time the Commission reviewed your request for a waiver so that you may take a position with a county contractor following your retirement from the County Government on December 1, 1990.
In discussing this request with Marc Hansen, our legal counsel, you informed him that you were approached by Delon Hampton Associates regarding future employment after Mr. Kramer's loss in the September primary election. You indicated that Delon Hampton Associates had contracts with the county while you served as Director of the Department of Transportation but that (1) you personally had no involvement in selecting them for contracts they were awarded and (2) you did not directly oversee these contracts or significantly participate in their administration. In fact, you noted that you were not even aware that Delon Hampton Associates had contracts with the county until they contacted you in September.
After considering both your written request and the other representations made to Marc Hansen, the Commission hereby waives Section 19A-13(b)(2) of the Ethics Law with the condition that, for a period of one year, you may not be involved in any contracts between Delon Hampton Associates and the Montgomery County Government. This waiver is based on the Commission's understanding that: (1) the proposed employment is not likely to create an actual conflict of interest as your new employment will not involve any transportation related issues; and (2) that failing to grant the waiver may reduce the ability of the County to hire or retain highly qualified public employees.
Please don't hesitate to contact our office if you have additional questions regarding this decision.

 


W-90-17 [Waiver 1990-17]

December 24, 1990
Ms. Mary Anderson
Health Department

Dear Ms. Anderson:
The Ethics Commission has received and reviewed your request for outside employment approval as a freelance writer for the Journal Newspaper.
In considering your request, the Commission has considered both Sections 19A-12 and 11B-52 of the County Code. Section 19A-12 must be considered as it applies to all secondary employment requests. Section 11B-52, which prohibits county employees from working for businesses that are transacting business with the County, applies in your case because the County regularly places numerous ads in the Journal Newspaper.
In deciding the merits of such a waiver request, the Commission is obliged to determine that:
(1) the best interests of the County would be served by granting the waiver;
(2) the importance to the County of a public employee performing his or her official duties outweighs the actual or potential harm of any conflict of interest; and
(3) granting the waiver will not give a public employee an unfair advantage over other members of the public.
In that regard, the Commission believes it to be in "the best interest of the County" that its employees be permitted to engage in such outside employment as does not compromise their County responsibilities. Since the distribution of all press releases is handled through the County Information Office, rather than through your office, the Commission sees no "actual or potential conflict of interest." Finally, by restricting the subject matter of your articles as proposed in your request, the Commission believes that no "unfair advantage" could exist.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission hereby grants you a waiver conditioned on the following:
1) As you have stated in your application, the articles you write for the Journal Newspaper must be restricted to fitness and running. They may not cover any issues in which you would be engaged in the course of your county job;
2) You may not write about any subject matter about which your knowledge was obtained during the course of performing your county job; and
3) The attached general conditions also apply as a condition of granting this outside employment waiver.
If you have any questions concerning this decision, please contact our office.

 

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