Good intentions are one thing, but when it comes to the specifications of the state Ethics Commission, one has to be, well, specific.
Greenbelt's mayor and City Council originally passed an ethics law last December, following a directive from state officials requiring all municipalities to adopt a code intended to prevent covert lobbying practices and conflicts of interest among city officials.
At the time, according to City Manager James K. Giese, it seemed reasonably sufficient to make it illegal for city officials to accept gifts valued at more than $50. State ethics administrators reviewed Greenbelt's ordinance, and suggested the council tighten it up to require that department heads, as well as the city manager, report any gift valued at more than $50 that they received from anyone doing business with the city.
"In a way, it's silly," Giese said, "because those city employes are not allowed to accept gifts."
Nevertheless, Giese suggested in a report to the council last week that at a future meeting it should amend its ordinance to require department heads to report gifts valued at more than $50, which they aren't allowed to receive. Giese also suggested the council heed the commission's order to change to $100 from $500 the maximum a lobbyist could spend before he is required to register with the city as a lobbyist.
In his report, Giese told the council he would prepare appropriately worded amendments for it to consider, but not without registering his disagreement.
"In my opinion," he wrote, "the Ethics Commission is nit-picking."
At its meeting last week, the council passed an ordinance granting official recognition to employe organizations, but not allowing for collective bargaining.
It allows employes to join or refuse to join employe organizations, and it grants those groups an audience with the city manager and department heads to discuss practices and grievances.
Although city employes have no union organization, the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 32 has been pressing city officials for this recognition, and it was the first group granted recognition last week.