Fairbanks borough assembly passes ethics ordinance for workers

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- People who work for the Fairbanks North Star Borough will now have to watch their behavior.

The borough assembly passed an ordinance Thursday that makes the mayor and the 350 borough employees subject to a code of ethics.

''Voters have a right to expect a certain standard of behavior,'' said Assemblywoman Bonnie Williams, the ordinance's main sponsor.

The ordinance essentially says the mayor and borough employees may not use borough property for personal gain. Inconsequential use of borough property, such as making a brief personal phone call, is not prohibited under the new law, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The assembly already operates under an ethics ordinance and borough staff must follow a policy concerning conflict of interest. Until now, the mayor was only governed by personal character and state law.

Williams said she crafted the ordinance after hearing that a resident wanted to makes an ethics grievance against Borough Mayor Rhonda Boyles and couldn't. She saw that as a flaw in the system, she said.

Assembly members Guy Sattley and Eileen Cummings signed on, later joined by the mayor and the rest of the assembly.

Still, assembly members raised concerns over wording during debate. Some thought it was too strict. Others called it too lenient.

Cummings and Assemblyman Tim Beck tried to add language limiting activity in political parties. The language was rejected as too constraining.

A handful of assembly members reassured the mayor they were not supporting the ordinance because they questioned her judgment.

Boyles drew fire last fall, however, for negotiating a lease with someone who was about to hire her contractor husband to do work on the property, although the assembly ultimately endorsed the mayor's judgment on the matter.

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