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Thread: Ethics of accepting gifts from clients

  1. #1
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Ethics of accepting gifts from clients

    what is your agency's limits on accepting gifts. I've been invited watch an Orioles' game from a skybox. I wanna go, but legally I don't think I can.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  2. #2
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star View post
    what is your agency's limits on accepting gifts. I've been invited watch an Orioles' game from a skybox. I wanna go, but legally I don't think I can.

    Every place is different...where I used to work, I couldn't even accept a cup of coffee. Municipal employees here seem to have no problem accepting tickets to sporting events.

    When in doubt, clear it with your boss.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star View post
    what is your agency's limits on accepting gifts. I've been invited watch an Orioles' game from a skybox. I wanna go, but legally I don't think I can.
    Just my 2 cents: Sometimes it just sounds bad to read "Planner accepts skybox tickets from _____" in the newspaper. Its probably best to avoid the appearance of conflict in a case like that.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    Just my 2 cents: Sometimes it just sounds bad to read "Planner accepts skybox tickets from _____" in the newspaper. Its probably best to avoid the appearance of conflict in a case like that.
    Yep the "Headline in the Newspaper" ethics test is always a good barometer.

    Iowa the limit is $2.99. Not even the price of a good cup of coffee, or a lousy beer.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TOFB View post
    Yep the "Headline in the Newspaper" ethics test is always a good barometer.

    Iowa the limit is $2.99. Not even the price of a good cup of coffee, or a lousy beer.
    Damn! That's it!?!? At my last job, the situation was really dicey. My mentor/friend works for a company that my agency did a a lot of business with. However, I knew that she would never put me in a predicament. I made up my mind that I'm not going. If I were in St. Louis, and someone offered me skybox Cardinals' seats, I would have a really hard decision to make.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  6. #6
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Department employees may not solicit or accept gifts from firms, individuals, or organizations who are doing, have done, or have an interest in doing business with THE TOWN NEXT DOOR. However, unsolicited gifts which have little or no value (e.g., pens, calendars, etc.) need not be returned to the sender.
    Bring on the pens...but I'll pass on the Skybox tix.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    you could offer to pay for some fair share?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    At jobs I've had, all gifts had to be gifts for the entire office, like a meat and cheese tray, or something. If it was a gift only you could use, you could not accept it. I once got a christmas card from a development firm, after working with them through several subdivisions plats. In the card was a postcard where I was to put a check next to the gift I wanted, and then mail it back. The gifts were for different concerts, sporting events, fancy restaurants, or rounds of golf at a private club. Would have been great if I could have actually accepted one of them.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Man up and take the tickets. You only live once.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  10. #10
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    When I'm offered a gift the first thing I ask myself is: who's going to know, how are they going to find out, and who's going to care.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian martini's avatar
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    In my short tenure here, I've been offered tickets to Badgers games, both football and basketball. I probably could have taken them with out too much repercussion, but my ethics professor was close to my ear....don't even HINT at impropriety. So I said "thanks, but no". I even spread the christmas love too. A beautiful box of Cashews? Here you go staff! Enjoy the salty goodness!

    I just checked my employee manual...$2.99 maximum gift. Good thing I don't live on those 'tips'.
    You're more boring than you know.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I think we can accept a meal up to a certain low limit, and that's it, other than the pen/pencil kind of stuff.

    But I will admit that a few years ago, a co-worker got a pair of great Magic tickets from a contractor, offered them to me, and I took them.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hey FYI

    I think the APA and AICP will be providing a training session near you! It will be an all day event from 8AM to 5PM, but you will only get 1.7655544332988 credits towards your continuing education credit, after a 2 hour lunch is taken out, eight breaks of 35 minutes each and only after verification of the 1 in 12 speakers who is actually AICP being authorized to provide the training and verification of the payment of the fee for approval of the seminar credits to the APA office in......

    Pheew.....

    You get the picture

    Anyone know if being a Sarchastic Wise Arse is a punishable offence with AICP???
    Last edited by The One; 24 Apr 2007 at 6:12 PM. Reason: Attitude.....Pure Attitude....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Anyone know if being a Sarchastic Wise Arse is a punishable offence with AICP???
    Your first question should be does anybody care if it is, and secondly, who isn't scared of them? Boy am I glad I dropped out.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    Some of the best advice that I have been given was

    Would they give this to you or treat you to this if you did not work where you do or hold the employment position that you do? If you answer truthfuly and the answer is no than do not accept it.

    Sea Bishop is right, imagine your name in the paper that you accepted a ticket to a seat in the sky box,

    Also you have crossed the line when the person giving you the gift may think that you will act more favorably to them, regardless if you will or not

    Why sacrifice yourself for a "gift" regardless of the price,

    It is the principal, there is no difference between a cup of coffee and a ticket to the world series,

    Regardless of what the employer guidelines are, and regardless of what every one else is doing, you have to set your own standards

  16. #16
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    not even a cup of coffee.... in the public sector.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    We have to report all gifts given to us to a central officer who tells us what we can do with them- box of chocies? Spread them round the office- bottles of wine, perfume etc etc get give out as lucky door prizes at the christmas party.
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Our firm does have goodies to give out - all do. I usually send something to a client after a project is completed as a way to say thank you - a travel mug, a portfolio or a golf shirt depending on the size of the project. We do have other items such as sporting tickets, rounds of golf and such, but they are targting to existing clients with contracts.For example, if we are working for a private company and having to go through reviews at a city, we do not offer the city employee a goodie. That's bad ethics and karma.

    Fat Cat said "Would they give this to you or treat you to this if you did not work where you do or hold the employment position that you do? If you answer truthfuly and the answer is no than do not accept it." Alot of time its a result of your employment position because that where we met you and built the working relationship. Ultimately you have to make the decision that you can live with (and defend it you have to). The media can turn a cup of coffee into a 5 star restaurant dinner if they had the desire to attack.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  19. #19
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Does this mean I need to return the Cadillac Escalade that appeared in my driveway and the key in my mailbox?

    Forget it, I'll just drop AICP instead, the Escalade is more fun anyways.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    Because our department handles alot of stuff, we sometimes get offers for meals and such. I turn them down always... I generally do not go to lunch with vendors, applicants or such just because of the preception, which is often sold as the reality.

    In addition to that and maybe it is a small town thing; but discounts is what gets me. I walk into a place and go to pay and "its hey Big Owl. How's things going in the City of Owlville? Let me give you a discount." not exactly but you get the drift. I refuse and pay regular price. There are some places i avoid because of that, then i get some degree of grief because i frequent the places in the Town Next Door or the Town One Over. You can't win. It sucks being a planner with ethics.

    Although i did take a drink coupon from Planit but i still don't grasp the fact that he is Private Sector and it's been two years or so.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Plus
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    No personal gifts.
    Food (donuts, candy & fruit baskets) where they left out in the open in the breakroom to be shared with the entire office.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    So I shouldn't have accepted (and used) the pocket protector a major western engineering company sent me?

    I got two, should the whole planning office trade days of usage?

    I can see that, but what if it is from a Council member. We had one get a call while he was checking on things in our office that his baseball tickets could not be used. As a matter of convenience he offered to leave his four tickets here for anyone to use as he couldn't make the game that night either. What do you all think? I mean the intent was to offer the tickets to the closest person when he got the call and he had no development applications with us at the time. (But is a developer in town). Like I said, where does this lie?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  23. #23
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    I think the APA and AICP will be providing a training session near you! It will be an all day event from 8AM to 5PM, but you will only get 1.7655544332988 credits towards your continuing education credit, after a 2 hour lunch is taken out, eight breaks of 35 minutes each and only after verification of the 1 in 12 speakers who is actually AICP being authorized to provide the training and verification of the payment of the fee for approval of the seminar credits to the APA office in......

    Pheew.....

    You get the picture

    Anyone know if being a Sarchastic Wise Arse is a punishable offence with AICP???
    I'm glad that I'm no longer an APA member. I'm not quite sure on ULI's ethics guidelines.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  24. #24
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    I can see that, but what if it is from a Council member. We had one get a call while he was checking on things in our office that his baseball tickets could not be used. As a matter of convenience he offered to leave his four tickets here for anyone to use as he couldn't make the game that night either. What do you all think? I mean the intent was to offer the tickets to the closest person when he got the call and he had no development applications with us at the time. (But is a developer in town). Like I said, where does this lie?
    The way this particular Council member relayed the story to me was that he got jumped in the back alley, behind the City building and all they took was his baseball tickets. Odd, Zach! Who could have possibly known that this particular peson had baseball tickets with them? Hmmm!?!?
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.-- William H. Whyte..

  25. #25
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by prana View post
    The way this particular Council member relayed the story to me was that he got jumped in the back alley, behind the City building and all they took was his baseball tickets. Odd, Zach! Who could have possibly known that this particular peson had baseball tickets with them? Hmmm!?!?
    I recall no involvement in this... however it may have turned out, Jeff. BTW, where's my monthly kickback?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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