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Henderson to again delay action on proposed ethical standards changes

The Henderson City Council will once again delay acting on proposed amendments to the ethical standards ordinance governing public servants, which was originally presented to the council in July.

City Attorney Josh Reid said he has already informed the city clerk that his office wants to withdraw the item from the agenda.

“Based upon the comments from council members two weeks ago, we are going to take some additional time to study the issue before we bring another proposal back to the City Council,” Reid said.

Reid’s office proposed the changes, which would narrow the definition from “family” member to “household” member, for those who have a significant financial interest and wish to bid or enter into a contract with the city.

Councilwoman Debra March, who raised objections at the July 19 meeting, said Monday that she was planning to recommend pulling the item from Tuesday’s agenda for further study.

“I’m not comfortable with the current language,” she said.

Councilman John Marz said at the July 19 meeting that he was “very uncomfortable” with the household distinction for the ordinance, believing it should extend to immediate family for council members and department heads.

“The criteria for that group of people should be different than the rank-and-file,” Marz said. “We’re working on making it strong for that group. Because it is complicated, it’s going to take some time. I’m going to make sure that we have a very open policy and that it is very transparent.”

Marz said he has had a briefing with Reid informing him of what he would like to see in the ordinance.

Through the “Contact Henderson” function on the city’s website, Henderson resident Michael Rockelman voiced his concerns about the proposed amendments.

“Regardless of what the city attorney is saying there is the appearance of impropriety,” Rockelman said in the message. “The Ethics Code as is has served us well. Making a change to move away from family members to members of household just leaves it open to avoid the intent of the city’s ethics code. I applaud council members March and Marz for voicing objections to this change. The change recommended by the city attorney does not pass the smell test.”

According to Reid, the proposed amendments to the ordinance regarding the regulation and registration of lobbyists is also being withdrawn as it relates to the ethics ordinance changes.

Henderson City Council will meet in committee at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, with the regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Find @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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