MEMBERS PRESENT: Rev. Robert Charles Buehler, Chairman, Stephen P. Fitzgerald, Esq., Vice Chairman, William Purnell and Curt Springer
OTHERS PRESENT: Barbara Holtz, County Attorney & Gina Markovich, Clerk
CALL TO ORDER FOR SESSION: The meeting was called to order by Rev. Buehler at 5:30 p.m.
REVIEW AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes of May 14, 2014: Stephen Fitzgerald made a motion to accept the minutes as written with a few corrections. Motion was seconded by Curt Springer and carried.
NEW & OLD BUSINESS: Stephen Fitzgerald made a motion to go into closed session to discuss old and new business, motion was seconded by Curt Springer and unanimously carried, the Commission went into closed session at 5:40 p.m. in accordance with State Government Article §3-305(b)(1) to discuss (i) The appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; or (ii) Any other personnel matter that affects one or more specific individuals.
The meeting re-opened at 6:32 p.m.
Proposed Changes to Code of Ethics
I. Subpoena Power:The Commission reviewed the old language that was in the Code and inadvertently left out of the new code, they reviewed the State’s language and St. Mary’s County’s language.It was unanimously voted that the Commission would submit the State’s language as a Code Change, as follows:
(a) General - The Ethics Commission and staff counsel each may:
(1) Administer oaths;
(2) Issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses to testify or to produce other evidence.
(b) Judicial Enforcement - A subpoena issued under subsection (1) of this section may be judicially enforced.
II. Jurisdiction: Mr. Fitzgerald made a motion to add the word “current” in 170-2(c) and seconded by Mr. Purnell and carried. The language should read as follows:
170.2. Statement of purpose and policy:
C. For the purpose of guarding against improper influence, the Board of County Commissioners of Charles County enacts this Code of Ethics to require current County elected officials, officials, employees, and individuals appointed to boards and commissions to disclose their financial affairs and to set minimum standards for the conduct of local government business.
III. Originally the Commission wanted language regarding if a complainant failed to maintain confidentially then the complaint would be automatically dismissed. After discussion and vote the Commission decided against adding this code change.
IV. State Ethics Code will prevail when a conflict arises.The Commission had some discussion and Rev. Buehler, stated his concerns about why he wanted this language in and Curt Springer made a motion to leave the proposed language out and seconded by Stephen Fitzgerald and carried.
V. Rules and Procedures:The Commission discussed and voted all in favor to add the following language to the Code.
The language shall be as follows: The commission may adopt additional rules and procedures related to complaints and complaint hearings.
VI. Blue Crab Tickets:The County Attorney, Mrs. Holtz advised the Commission that the County and the Blue Crabs Stadium have a standing agreement that provides that the Blue Crabs shall furnish tickets to county employees and officials at various times a year.Instead of adding to the Code, the Commission would like a standing Advisory opinion stating this as long as there is an agreement by and between the County and the Stadium.
VII. Complaint issued by Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission, on its own initiative, may issue a complaint alleging a violation of this article.
It was also discussed and unanimously decided that under the Rules and Procedures, paragraph 17(b), shall be as amended as follows: “That after the Commission reviews the complaint at a hearing, within 5 days the Clerk shall send out 1 of 2 letters to the respondent, either stating that a complaint was received and is being investigated or that the complaint is dismissed and state its reason. Unless the complaint is dismissed pursuant to Section 170.04(k)(3), the subject of the complaint shall be given an opportunity to respond in writing prior to commencement of any investigation.”
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Next Meeting: The next meeting of the Ethics Commission will be on December 6, 2014 to review last year’s Financial Disclosure Forms.
ADJOURNMENT: With no further business the meeting adjourned at 7:46 p.m.
Gina M. Markovich, Clerk