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Thread: Ethical dilemma

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Ethical dilemma

    I was recently appointed as city representative to the board of director's for a local youth organization. At my first meeting I was given 10 tickets to the spring fling event and told to get out there and sell. Tickets are $50/person. I won't sell these tickets to anyone who I have a professional relationship with because, imo, it would be unethical. The fact that I need to sell these tickets leaves a less than pleasant taste in my mouth. How would you handle this situation?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    You're right, that would be abusing your municipal position for financial gain. How do you define a "professional relationship." Does it include clients, residents/constituents? Does it also include coworkers?

    Alternative Scenario
    If you raising money for this organization (as JUST a member or director) I think there is some grey area involved. In many businesses/agencies people raise funds for outside causes all the time (VFW, girl scout cookies, etc.). I don't think it's unethical to do this among coworkers, provided there is no quid pro quo (something you want for something I want). BUT I STILL think it would be unethical with outside professional relationships (clients, residents, constituents). However, there are some AICPs who would still rule out any sort of selling/buying to any group, inside or out.

    Very good question though, and it got me thinking. Makes me wish I stayed in my APA PDO position.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I don't like to have to sell those sort of things, so that would be a factor in my response. I would decline, saying that ethics rules do not let me sell them. Of course, this could be a problem if your predecessor did sell them.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I'm not a big fan of selling those sorts of tickets either. However, in my work with non-profits I now realize the importance of board members doing fundraising, and being representatives of the organization's cause - something that of course should be made clear before one accepts the board position. On the other hand, you indicate you are the "city representative" - this sounds like an official/semi-official liaison position on their board rather than a community volunteer position that you sought outside of work? In this case you may have a good reason to decline, citing ethics that would make it difficult to sell these? Or tell them you'll do the best you can, but selling tickets would be difficult due to ethics rules?

    It doesn't sound like there is a personal financial gain, so it seems like you might be able to mention this at work, depending on your city's rules or culture. I'd be less comfortable mentioning this to any potential "clients" of the city.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I have been a city rep to several groups and have never been asked to sell or fund raise when it was assigned to the board. I would talk with your boss first and seek their counsel. Events like these can become political. The last you want is the person running the event to go complain to an elected official and that you did not want to sell tickets for the event.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I was in a service organization that required its members to sell a quota of Christmas wreaths (or buy them ourselves). Because I am in a position where I can make things happen or not happen for just about everyone in town, I thought it would be unethical for me to try to sell themas it could seem like I was pressuring them to buy or face the consequences. The organization was unyielding, so I resigned.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    This is how I see it as well:

    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    I'm not a big fan of selling those sorts of tickets either. However, in my work with non-profits I now realize the importance of board members doing fundraising, and being representatives of the organization's cause - something that of course should be made clear before one accepts the board position. On the other hand, you indicate you are the "city representative" - this sounds like an official/semi-official liaison position on their board rather than a community volunteer position that you sought outside of work? In this case you may have a good reason to decline, citing ethics that would make it difficult to sell these? Or tell them you'll do the best you can, but selling tickets would be difficult due to ethics rules?

    It doesn't sound like there is a personal financial gain, so it seems like you might be able to mention this at work, depending on your city's rules or culture. I'd be less comfortable mentioning this to any potential "clients" of the city.
    -------
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I could rationalize that it is ethical, as in nrschmid's alternate senario. But I have not and would not do it. Like Cardinal, I don't like being involved in any fund raiser. One time I did ask a contractor if he had a summer opening for our son. It was in front of another persoon, and I fully explained that there was no connection with any pending or future permit application. I felt very awkward, but no harm was done. It was better than selling raffle tickets.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    If you are representing the city on the board, then I think you should not have to fundraise. Obviously you already feel uncomfortable about it, so to me, if you have to question your role, then it's probably an ethical violation to fundraise when you represent your public employer.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    docwatson is offering some good perspective on this. It is very unusual for a "city representative" functioning in more of a liasion role to participate in the financial side of a board like that. For example, our Parks & Recreation Director is a member of the local Lion's Club. They do not require him to participate in fundraising, but instead have him assist the organization in other ways that don't cause ethical questions (i.e. working the snack shack at the baseball fields, etc.).

    I would explain your ethical concern to the other board members, AND offer another way to assist that is less exposed.

    "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)

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