Less than four months before a voter-imposed deadline, the Lee’s Summit City Council plans to make a second attempt at developing an ethics policy.
Councilman Rob Binney on Thursday asked the council’s Rules Committee to work up a new set of rules governing council members’ behavior and bring it back to the full council for a vote.
“I think we owe it to the citizens,” Binney said. “Their voice spoke loudly. They wanted us to adopt an ethics policy.”
The council has until April 4 to adopt an ethics policy. It was one of 12 amendments to the City Charter that voters approved last April.
The four-member Rules Committee had drafted an ethics policy during several months this summer and voted unanimously in October to send it to the council for approval.
But on Dec. 7, the council voted 5-3 effectively to kill the policy after several members raised concerns with what they said were fatal flaws in the proposal.
The proposed policy defined prohibited conflicts of interest, detailed financial disclosure, and recommended proper decorum during meetings and other officials events.
It also described how potential violations would be investigated by the council and what penalties the council could impose on violators.
That last part is what got the attention of council members who warned that its provisions could be used for political vendettas. They also complained that the policy had combined existing city guidelines with state statutes and was difficult to understand.
“If we want to set ourselves up for arguing and misinterpretation and having to hire a bunch of attorneys to figure it out, we can do this,” Councilman Dave Mosby said. “These documents are supposed to be guiding documents, not punitive tools.”
Councilwoman Trish Carlyle, who is chairwoman of the Rules Committee, said the state statutes were included so council members would know exactly what rules they needed to follow. She also said few of these concerns were raised during the committee’s deliberations and questioned how effective more deliberation would be.
“I’m tired of the games,” she said.
In other business, the council voted 7-1 to approve a cooperative agreement with 740 Parkway Investors, the company redeveloping the old Bank of the West building at 740 N.W. Blue Parkway for a pair of restaurants.
As part of the agreement, the city has created a community improvement district covering the property. The district will levy a special 1-percent sales tax within the district, which is expected to reimburse the developers up to $1.3 million in allowed expenses for the $12.5 million project.
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