TOLEDO, Ohio — The Ethics Review Committee met for the first time on Wednesday in a virtual session.
The committee is an ad hoc addition to Toledo City Council, chaired by council member Katie Moline. Moline said one of the goals of the committee is to restore the public's faith and trust in Toledo City Council following the bribery scheme that led to the indictment of four now-suspended members.
During the meeting, Moline presented the Ethics Policy for Toledo City Council. She proposed council members take an annual pledge of ethical conduct. By taking this pledge every year, she said, members will be reaffirming their commitment to the people of Toledo.
The pledge would address gifts, outside employment, nepotism, political activity and other conflicts of interest.
Executive Director of Ohio Ethics Commission Paul Nick was present at the meeting and provided further insight. Nick outlined three types of conflicts of interest: Personal, family and professional. Nick urged council members to call him or the Ohio Ethics Commission if they had a question regarding even the possibility of a conflict of interest.
"Ethics laws don’t prohibit you from having a conflict of interest, it just prohibits you from acting upon them," Nick said.
He said when responding to conflicts of interest, there are three things officials should do: they should disclose to the public and their colleagues that there is a potential conflict of interest, they should abstain from discussions regarding the conflict and finally, elected officials should "pay their own way."
If they are in a situation where they are not sure if they should accept a particular thing, he says that probably means they shouldn't accept it.
The Director of Human Resources for the City of Toledo Tyrome Alexander also spoke. He said annual ethics training is already required of many city employees.
Nothing was voted on during Wednesday's meeting, but Moline said the next steps are updating and revising the proposed ethics policy based on what was introduced. She will work on presenting a resolution, so the council can move forward with an ethics pledge.