Glen Cove city department heads and some contractors would be required to fill out financial-disclosure forms and city employees would be barred from conducting campaign activities during work hours, under proposed additions to the city ethics code.
Members of the ethics board discussed their proposals with City Council members during Tuesday night’s council work session.
The council won’t vote on a revised ethics code for several weeks, so council members have time to ask questions and make suggestions for possible revisions, said Mayor Reginald Spinello.
Among the biggest changes would be requiring a much larger group of people to fill out financial disclosure forms. Currently only elected officials and candidates for elected office must do so.
The proposal would add to that list department heads, members of certain city boards, people with professional-service contracts worth more than $100,000, and city employees who can negotiate or authorize contracts and leases.
Those changes were in response to revelations that the North Hempstead zoning board of appeals attorney – who was considered a contractor – had $1.4 million in state and federal tax debts, said Cindy Rogers, the board’s chairwoman. At the time, North Hempstead didn’t require contractors to submit financial disclosure statements.
The contractor, Gerard Terry, was arrested April 12 on a felony tax fraud charge after Newsday reported the tax debts and how Terry held six government positions. Terry resigned or was terminated from five of the six positions.
His wife, Concetta Terry, resigned her position as deputy town clerk after she was cited by the town ethics board for not disclosing her own debts on the financial disclosure forms she filed.
The proposed expansion of the financial-disclosure requirement wouldn’t have applied to Gerard Terry if he had worked for Glen Cove. Terry earned $74,000 in his town positions, less than the $100,000 minimum in the proposal.
Rogers said the new draft ethics code is only a starting point for City Council members to consider. The $100,000 floor was suggested so requirements are not too burdensome for people and companies with small contracts, she said.
“They’re going to have to come up with a number they feel is comfortable if they want the provision” that includes contractors, Rogers said.
Another change would bar city officials and employees from hiring or supervising relatives. “Domestic partner” would also be added to the list of those covered by ethics rules.
The draft code also broadens the ethics board’s purview. The current code gives the board authority to give advisory opinions. The proposed revision would allow the board to investigate complaints and then give recommendations, including discipline.