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Thread: Ethics and spouses

  1. #1
    Member
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    Ethics and spouses

    Here's an ethics dilemma. I am an annexation planner in a small city. Most of my work in front of city council is identification/interpretation of state statute regarding annexations.

    My wife is interested in running for council, and is likely a shoe-in. The only thing she would be voting on that would affect me are annexations, and of course the annual budget.

    What do y'all think, conflict or no?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Not a conflict in my book. But perhaps not wise. Perception is everything, especially in smaller cities. I would talk this over with as many locals as possible before the spouse decides. Your coworkers, supervisors, local leaders whose judgment you trust.

    A more general discussion is on the rights normally available to all citizens that are given up in public employment: letters to the editor, campaign yard signs. And I wonder if it would hurt any promotion chances you may have?

    Disclaimer: I am overly cautious in this area.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I agree w/ mike gurnee comments.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I would be more concerned if your wife were elected and then you were appointed to your position. The fact is that you are already an employee, and she can recuse herself on issues that may have a bearing on you both personally, such as salary negotiations. I don't see where she would need to be concerned about recommendations like annexations or development approvals, simply because the staff recommendations come from her husband.

    Locally, we had a case where a county economic development director hired his wife as a consultant. That would be something I am concerned about. Whether legitimate or not, it appears questionable.
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  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I guess I am a jerk because I don't let my husband even attend a meeting (to say something or out of curiosity) or represent a client here beyond the building permit (he's a landscape architect) - in a small town you are so judged by everything you or your family does that it's really tough

    he does go to town meeting though, I'm not all bad

  6. #6
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    small town you say? what is the local culture with this? are there other "spousal" teams involved in the city?
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    In small town politics, perception is reality. It doesn't matter what the truth is. If your wife is elected, I would recommend she abstain from any vote you were involved in. Even at that, be prepared for "good ole boy" and "back door politics" allegations.

    I speak as an elected official and a private land surveyor who has plats come before the council. My work is scrutinized 100 fold over others, but there are still those who will never believe there aren't special favors going on.

  8. #8
    Member
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    Thank you all. These are some great points to consider.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I consulted in a city once where the mom was on the city council and the son was the city engineer. It was down right strange and everyone had to walk on eggshells when issues of the city engineer and the city council came up. I can't see how a similar situation in your case could be avoided. Its just going to make everyone else feel very uncomfortable and you are going to be treated differently by your coworkers. I even wonder if they will every trust you with information again.

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