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Thread: Ethics question

  1. #1
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    Ethics question

    Under the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, section B, "Our Rules of conduct," number 5 states: "We shall not, as public officials or employees; accept from anyone other than our public employer any compensation, commission, rebate, or other advantage that may be perceived as related to our public office or employment."

    Here's my question: A not-for-profit organization that advocates progressive ideas has arranged to fund a group of public planners from our municipality to attend a conference (paying for airfare, hotel & workshop registration expenses). Would accepting this offer constitute a breach of the AICP ethics code? The conference is being held primarily during a weekend and participants could conceivably use a vacation day on the one workday that is included in the conference schedule.

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    To attempt to answer your question, as long as the funding for the conference does not require advocacy on a specific issue or require you to make decisions that favor the group, you are probably safe, though I personally would not be comfortable doing it. It may be worth an e-mail to AICP to get their take on it though.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 16 Feb 2006 at 3:40 PM.
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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    I say it is not proper.
    Besides, even if it's technically OK, you should avoid the apprearance of improperity as well. Imagaine defending yourself once it's reported in the paper.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Yes, I would think that violates that tenet.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Do you have any sort of other business dealings with them in your jurisdiction? IF not, then I think it becomes a little more in favor of not being a violation. Of course, if the ywant to try to convince your organization to start implementing their beliefs, then it probably does violatate the code. The general rule that if there is any chance of it appearing as any sort of influence on you, then you shouldn't do it. Error on the side of caution.

    I would ask AICP as others have mentioned.

  6. #6
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    Ethics Question

    I've sent this question to AICP. We do not have any direct dealings with the sponsoring organization, but they occaisionally express opinions on proposed development here.

    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    Do you have any sort of other business dealings with them in your jurisdiction? IF not, then I think it becomes a little more in favor of not being a violation. Of course, if the ywant to try to convince your organization to start implementing their beliefs, then it probably does violatate the code. The general rule that if there is any chance of it appearing as any sort of influence on you, then you shouldn't do it. Error on the side of caution.

    I would ask AICP as others have mentioned.

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CosmicMojo
    I say it is not proper.
    Besides, even if it's technically OK, you should avoid the apprearance of improperity as well. Imagaine defending yourself once it's reported in the paper.
    This sums it up. Even if it is technically OK, I believe the Code also states something to the effect that you should avoid the appearance of impropriety. I'm pretty sure ICMA has something like that in theirs. I'm just too lazy to go look it up.

    Quote Originally posted by AICP Code
    3) A planner shall not perform work if there is an actual, apparent, or reasonably foreseeable conflict of interest, direct or indirect, or an appearance of impropriety, without full written disclosure concerning work for current or past clients and subsequent written consent by the current client or employer. A planner shall remove himself or herself from a project if there is any direct personal or financial gain including gains to family members. A planner shall not disclose information gained in the course of public activity for a private benefit unless the information would be offered impartially to any person.
    Though taking it slightly out of context, I would interpret the highlighted phrase to say that what you describe creates an appearance of impropriety. If you aren't comfortable reading "Special Interest Group Pays City Staff to Attend Conference", then I'd say stay away from it.

    If it were me, I'd politely decline.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CosmicMojo
    I say it is not proper.
    Besides, even if it's technically OK, you should avoid the apprearance of improperity as well. Imagaine defending yourself once it's reported in the paper.
    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    This sums it up. Even if it is technically OK, I believe the Code also states something to the effect that you should avoid the appearance of impropriety. I'm pretty sure ICMA has something like that in theirs. I'm just too lazy to go look it up.
    Quote Originally posted by AICP Code
    3) A planner shall not perform work if there is an actual, apparent, or reasonably foreseeable conflict of interest, direct or indirect, or an appearance of impropriety, without full written disclosure concerning work for current or past clients and subsequent written consent by the current client or employer. A planner shall remove himself or herself from a project if there is any direct personal or financial gain including gains to family members. A planner shall not disclose information gained in the course of public activity for a private benefit unless the information would be offered impartially to any person.
    Though taking it slightly out of context, I would interpret the highlighted phrase to say that what you describe creates an appearance of impropriety. If you aren't comfortable reading "Special Interest Group Pays City Staff to Attend Conference", then I'd say stay away from it.

    If it were me, I'd politely decline.
    I agree.
    Even a not for profit will have an agenda, and they spend money to achieve their goals.
    "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism." - George Washington

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I think the fact that it is a not-for-profit makes little difference.

    They are not just paying your expenses because of your good looks.

    You would not let the development community pay your way so, this one is easy, I think.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    If you aren't comfortable reading "Special Interest Group Pays City Staff to Attend Conference", then I'd say stay away from it.

    If it were me, I'd politely decline.
    I Agree, the good old smell test.

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