NARRAGANSETT—The Charter Review met Wednesday and is approaching the end of their work. The commission, whose last entity met in 1998, expects to have a final draft ready for the council for their May meeting. Discussion at this week's meeting dealt with purchasing powers and ethics.
Commission Chairman Michael Riley has researched how neighboring communities deal with ethics and drafted recommendations for the commission that they may include in the charter. The difficult issue in meetings past was whether and how to implement solutions and mechanisms for ethics code enforcement. Currently, there is no enforcement or identifiable entity that will pursue an investigation if there are any ethical violations by a council member. Riley, hoping to state definitively how the town will develop an ethics policy, engendered three possible solutions.
First, the ordinance could drop a portion of the current code (article 16) and then an ordinance could be expanded to describe penalties and enforcement. Second, a new ordinance could be drafted which describes penalties and enforcement that could be enacted. The advantage of having the ethics code and enforcement outside the charter, he writes, is that any changes can be made by ordinance rather than by charter and ballot. The third possible solution is that any ethics code that does not contain enforcement mechanisms and penalties will be a violation of the town charter. This, one assumes, would compel action by the Town Council.
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