A new ethics code for Bellevue spells out new prohibitions against City Council members using their office to enrich themselves, and calls for appointment of an ethics officer to investigate complaints of misconduct.
The ordinance, passed by the council Tuesday night, is a good step forward that gives ethical guidelines to elected and appointed officials, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Robertson said before the 4-2 vote.
Councilmembers Claudia Balducci and John Chelminiak voted against the law, saying it lacks an enforceable prohibition against council members voting on land-use changes and some other actions that would benefit them financially.
“Where’s the beef?” Balducci asked, recalling the words from a Wendy’s restaurant ad.
Robertson, Mayor Conrad Lee and Councilmembers John Stokes and Kevin Wallace voted for the measure, which comes two years after the council asked an outside investigator to look into whether three council members’ participation in decisions on Sound Transit’s light-rail route conflicted under state law with their personal interests. None of the three was found to have acted improperly.
The new law forbids members of the council and city boards and commissions from participating in awarding contracts or grants, buying property, acting on quasi-judicial matters or site-specific rezones if the member or a relative has a personal interest.
It also prohibits receipt of gifts intended to influence a public decision.