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Denton City Council to meet with ethics attorney

City ethics expert and attorney Alan Bojorquez will travel from Austin on Tuesday to meet with the Denton City Council about new ethics rules for City Hall. 

His briefing is the sixth and last item scheduled on the City Council's work session, which begins at noon.  

Denton voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the city charter that required the City Council to adopt an ethics ordinance. Until now, the city has relied on state laws for oversight.

The amendment was drafted after several months of deliberations by a charter amendment committee, which included a consultation with Bojorquez. He was the only outside expert the citizen committee brought in for advice. 

After voters approved the amendment, the city staff invited Bojorquez to submit a proposal to fast-track the new rules. He submitted a proposal that would have involved a citizen committee for the initial draft of an ethics ordinance before ever involving the City Council. 

<p><span style="font-size: 1em; background-color: transparent;">Alan Bojorquez</span></p>Courtesy photo

Alan Bojorquez

Courtesy photo

The City Council agreed to hire Bojorquez to develop the new rules, but it declined his recommendation to appoint a citizen committee for the first draft. 

Instead, council members decided to go it alone. During Tuesday's work session, the city staff is expected to present three options that would allow the work to be done by the end of March. Each option requires the City Council to hold special meetings, including some meetings on Saturdays. 

Without the extra meetings, the draft and adoption of new rules could take longer, according to a staff memo to the council. 

Bojorquez recommended the city's new ethics rules be presented in a public hearing before being adopted after at least two readings. 

The charter amendment committee made recommendations of its own for the new rules and sent a letter to the City Council outlining them. 

As envisioned by the committee, the new rules would define when an elected or appointed official has a conflict of interest, financial and fiduciary. The new rules would prohibit elected and appointed officials from certain activities when they have a conflict. The new rules would be enforced by an independent body. The new rules would also apply to city employees, but would be enforced in a way that does not conflict with the employee-manager relationship.

More information on the agenda can be found on the city's website. The meeting will also be live-streamed from the website beginning at noon Tuesday. 

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.