Wichita City Council to discuss new ethics policy Tuesday
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Wichita City Council will discuss the city’s ethics policy during a workshop on Tuesday.
Mayor Brandon Whipple said it was one of the first items on his agenda when he was sworn-in to office last January. Whipple said the goal is to make Wichita’s ethical policy more comparable to some of our sister cities.
Under the new policy, a board would investigate allegations of unethical behavior by an elected official. The mayor would appoint a chairperson for a two-year term, according to Whipple. That person would have served in academia or the legal field. The chairperson would then be vetted and have to be confirmed by the city council.
Whipple said each time the board would meet to investigate an allegation, six people would be randomly selected from different advisory boards - Library, Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Airport, the Board of Park Commissioners and Diversity, Inclusion & Civil Rights.
Whipple said there is no penalty in the current policy if someone is found to be unethical. Under the new policy, if an allegation rises to the level of a member being ousted, any member of the board or from the public, would be able to turn the information over to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.
“Without a policy put in place, that actually will show, and show the public that isn’t undue influence, influence for the sake of having favoritism when we give out contracts instead of allowing our professional staff to recommend those contracts to the best person. We need to set up that standard that this is going to be the rule moving forward,” said the mayor.
The policy would also put limits on gifts and how to report them. Currently, an elected official is only required to report a gift over $500 on their statement of substantial interest. The policy will not cover campaign finance issues because that is covered by the Kansas Ethics Commission.
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