Ethics, What Ethics?

Chief of Stuff JP Twist says “Judge did not have all of the facts, came to the wrong conclusion” re Boss Lane’s lack of ethics.

Beth Duckett’s AZCentral article today talks about the dismissal of my ethics complaint against Jim Lane, et. al., for publicly abusing Scottsdale Public Safety Chief Alan Rodbell, and former Scottsdale Fire Chief Garrett Olson. It’s a shame the complaint couldn’t be prosecuted further. The comments from Lane’s chief of staff, JP Twist, clearly indicate that, a) Lane and Twist don’t have any ethics, and b) don’t believe in the value or purpose of Scottsdale’s Ethics Code.

By Beth Duckett The Republic | Thu Nov 8, 2012 11:47 AM
Scottsdale’s city attorney has dismissed an ethics complaint filed by a former mayoral candidate that targeted Mayor Jim Lane and Council members Lisa Borowsky and Ron McCullagh.

John Washington filed the complaint last month, accusing the three of violating the ethics code by requesting potential budget cuts from the public-safety director, rather than the city manager, who oversees administration of all city affairs.

City Attorney Bruce Washburn said his decision to dismiss the complaint was based on a recommendation from Judge Noel Fidel, who contracts as an independent ethics officer for Scottsdale.

Fidel found that McCullagh, Lane and Borowsky did cross a line when they requested a list of potential cuts or prioritizations in the police department from Public Safety Executive Director Alan Rodbell.

The violation, however, does not warrant a referral to an independent ethics panel, Fidel found. [emphasis added]

On Pct. 16, council members asked Rodbell about a $500,000 overage in police spending during the first quarter.

McCullagh asked Rodbell to return with a list of potential cuts. Borowsky supported McCullagh’s request, and Lane said he thought the request was “altogether appropriate,” Fidel said.

Other council members argued that it was inappropriate to ask Rodbell for potential cuts, saying that falls under the purview of Rodbell’s supervisor, interim City Manager Dan Worth.

In Scottsdale, council members are barred from “giving orders or explicit directions or requests … regarding city matters to any subordinates of the city manager,” the ethics code says.

Fidel agreed that their requests violated an administrative provision of the ethics code. However, because the violation is only of an “administrative” provision, rather than a “mandatory” requirement, he recommended dismissal.

Washington, a resident and activist, said the finding is “in some ways, a reflection on the fact that the ethics code needs a little tweaking.”

He added: “If the mayor would come back and say, ‘maybe we crossed the line and we’ll pay more attention next time,’ that would be enough for me.’”

Washington said he believes the most important part of the situation “is the order and efficiency with which Scottsdale taxpayers receive public services.”

“I believe that the best way to accomplish that efficiency is to honor the letter and the spirit of our council-manager form of city government, and by insulating our professional city employees and public safety managers from political posturing,” he said.

J.P. Twist, chief of staff to Mayor Jim Lane, issued a statement on the mayor’s behalf:

“While we are not surprised that Judge Fidel asked to have the complaint dismissed, we do take exception with his position that Councilman McCullagh, Borowsky and Mayor Lane ‘crossed the line’ with respects to the administrative provision of the ethics code. Judge Fidel did not have all of the facts and therefore came to the wrong conclusion.

It was well understood that Chief Rodbell was presenting the police budget on behalf of the city manager, who was sitting right next to him. The city manager delegated the presentation and discussion to Chief Rodbell, so therefore, under that context, the mayor and Council members McCullagh and Borowsky were not giving direction to the chief, but rather through the chief to Dan Worth. If you were to ask the city manager whether or not this was his understanding, that direction was being given to him and not Chief Rodbell, he would concur. This is critical information that Judge Fidel was not presented with which, undoubtedly, would have changed his opinion.  We are also confident that the city attorney would agree with this analysis.”

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