Don Wilson.

Proposed new rules for handling ethics complaints against city officials would move the final decision about violations behind the closed doors of a City Council executive session.

The Ethics Subcommittee of the Rules Committee, chaired by Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, is scheduled to make final revisions to the new ethics ordinance Monday, before sending the package of changes to the Rules Committee for further discussion on June 3.

Wilson has declined so far to respond substantively to questions raised by Evanston Now about the added secrecy in the new rules.

The new ordinance would make several other changes. It would:

  • Take the city’s Law Department out of the conflicted position of both advising the Board of Ethics and representing the city’s interests, which include defending elected officials against misconduct claims, by appointing an outside attorney as special counsel to the ethics board.
  • Have the special counsel, instead of the ethics board chair, lead ethics board hearings.
  • Limit board members to four one-year terms, instead of the two three-year terms they can serve now.
  • Clarify differing ethical expections for city employees, volunteers appointed to city boards and elected officials — notably specifying that only the employees are required to be impartial on public issues.

The flow chart above shows the steps that would be involved in addressing a complaint under the proposed new rules. The chart below shows the path a complaint follows under the existing rules.

Related documents

Current draft of new ethics ordinance

Existing city code ethics chapter

Related stories

Ethics board declines comment on new ethics code (4/17/19)

Panel wants outside counsel for ethics board (3/13/19)

Aldermen tackle ethics policy issues (2/12/19)

Aldermen shelve Rainey ethics report (12/4/18)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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