Posts Tagged ‘Conflicts of interest’

You’ve Won Your Election – Time for Ethics Training!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Elections are over, TV ads are back to normal, and mail boxes are no longer full of campaign flyers. Ballots have been counted, results certified, and oaths of office taken. Among the other duties and obligations required of newly elected and reelected local government officials is that they participate in mandatory ethics training. If you […]

File or Get Fined: New Penalties for Violating MPO/RPO Ethics Disclosure Requirements

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

If you are a local government official who serves on the TAC of a MPO or RPO, recently enacted legislation makes you subject to civil fines and potential criminal prosecution for failing to file or filing incomplete your SEI and RED. Huh? If you know what this means, you definitely should keep reading. Even if […]

Do Mayors Have a Duty to Vote?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

North Carolina holds its local government board members’ feet to the fire when it comes to voting. City council members and county commissioners have a legal duty to vote unless they are excused for any of several grounds allowed under the statutes. The statutes do not authorize board members to abstain. In cities, if a […]

It’s All Relative

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

When it’s filing season for people seeking city or county offices, questions often arise about who can run. Can the spouse of a current board member run? What about the spouse of a current employee? How about the adult child of a sitting board member? These questions imply that there may be some type of […]

New Ethics Requirements for Local Transportation Planning Organizations – Round 2

Friday, June 28th, 2013

During the 2012 short session, the General Assembly enacted legislation that covered members of local transportation planning groups, known as RPOs and MPOs, under the State Government Ethics Act (GS Chapter 138A), the same ethics laws that apply to many state officials (for more about MPO’s and RPO’s and last year’s legislation, see this previous […]

Local Transportation Planning Groups Now Covered under the State Ethics Act – What Does This Mean For Them?

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

UPDATE: NEW LEGISLATION (SB411) WENT INTO EFFECT ON JUNE 19, 2013, SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGING THE ETHICS REQUIREMENTS FOR MPOs AND RPOs.  CLICK HERE FOR A NEW BLOG POST OUTLINES THESE NEW REQUIREMENTS. During the recent legislative session, the General Assembly designated RPOs and MPOs as “boards” for purposes of GS Chapter 138A (S.L. 2012-142, Sec. 24.16).  […]

When Can a Biased Elected Official Participate in a Zoning Decision?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

A rezoning petition is pending before the city council.  The parcel involved is zoned for single-family residential use.  The landowner wants to build a retail store on the site, so she is seeking a change in the zoning to a commercial zoning district.  The planning board has recommended approval, noting the adjacent street can handle […]

Board Member Financial Interest: Mapping the Points on the Continuum

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

We say it until we’re blue in the face: municipal and county governing board members have a duty to vote. There is no authority to abstain, or to be excused for a mere “appearance of impropriety.” Instead, state law is specific about when members can be excused from voting. Two blog posts about these statutes […]

Candidates and Conflicts of Interest – What Happens If You Win?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

You want to run for city council, but you or your company has a contract with the city (or maybe you want to run to be a county commissioner and the contract is with the county).  Can you be a candidate for election?  What happens if you win?  Sure, you can run.  The conflict of […]

When Do Government Transparency Laws Apply to Private Entities?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

A city contracts with a private company to collect solid waste within the city. If not for this contract, city employees would carry out this function. The only connection between the city and the company is the contract. It’s a small company and the contract accounts for a significant portion of its revenue. Is the […]

State Ethics and Lobbying Laws – When Do They Apply to Local Government Lobbying?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Two related chapters in the North Carolina General Statutes govern the spending of money to influence state officials.  The State Government Ethics Act (G.S. Chapter 138A) sets ethical standards for the state officials themselves, and the lobbying laws (G.S. Chapter 120C) govern interactions between these officials and those who seek to influence their decision-making – in […]

Taking (Personal) Advantage of Public Contracts

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Carolina County has just awarded a contract for uPad tablet computers. Bill Goats, the purchasing officer for Carolina County, is having lunch with his friend in the public works department, Steve Jabs. Bill mentions the contract to Steve. “My daughter won’t stop talking about those uPads,” Steve says. “She really wants one.”  “Yeah, my son […]

Conflicts of Interest and Subcontractors

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

One of your city council members, Georgia Peach, is a plumber, and owns her own plumbing business, Peaches & Plumbs, LLP.  Peaches & Plumbs often subcontracts with one of the bigger and more reputable general contractors in town, Constructive Construction, Inc.  Your city is getting ready to renovate the town hall, and, as it turns […]

Wearing Several Hats: Multiple and Ex Officio Office-Holding

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

In an earlier blog, I discussed the meaning of “public office.”  As promised, I will now examine multiple and ex officio office-holding.

One Attorney for Multiple Local Governments?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

How many local government clients are too many? If an attorney represents a county, is that attorney precluded from also representing a city in that county? What about representing multiple counties or multiple cities? These questions are of great concern to attorneys, of course, because of their professional responsibility obligations. But they should also be […]

Board Members as Employees

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The governing board of a small town believes that it would be advantageous to hire the mayor as a part-time town administrator. Is this legal? In some cases, it is. There are two main legal prohibitions that would generally bar a local government board member from being employed by his or her unit of government. […]

When is a Close Relationship with Your Client Too Close?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

With new county commissioners, school board members, and  municipal councilpersons being sworn in after last month’s local elections, the face and voice of the client has changed for more than one local government attorney.  What happens when one of those faces and voices is related to the attorney?  Is it okay if the town attorney’s […]

Federal Grants and Codes of Conduct

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

As I mentioned in my post last week, the Grants Management Common Rule (which applies to all federal grants) requires entities that receive federal grants to establish a “code of conduct.”  This post will address what the Rule says about what the code of conduct must include.

Board Members Who Serve on Nonprofit Boards – Conflict of Interest?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

It’s budget season, and several nonprofit organizations hope to receive funding from your city or county to provide programs and services for the benefit of your citizens. An increasingly common situation is that you have one or more members of your city or county governing board who also serve on the boards of some of […]

“Official Conduct” – More on Excusing Board Members From Voting

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

A few of my posts have discussed the limited bases upon which city and county board members may be excused from voting, and the lack of clarity in the statutes about how this should be done. I’ve mostly focused on the statutory provisions dealing with matters involving consideration of a board member’s “own financial interest.” […]

When can a local government employee or official buy surplus property from the local government? Part 2

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Following up on my post last week about the procedures available for selling surplus property, I will now address the second question raised by the original post: When can you sell surplus property to local government employees or officers?

Excusing Board Members From Voting

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

State law creates an affirmative duty for local governing board members to vote on matters that come before the board. Last week’s post discussed provisions that allow members to be excused from voting for specific reasons. In all other cases, the assumption is that they must vote. The statutes are mostly silent about the process […]