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Would require elected officials’ disclosure of communications about permit and license applications, citations, sanctions, personnel matters

– Strengthening the City of Somerville’s commitment to open government and transparency,
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has filed a proposed expansion of the City’s ethics
ordinance that would require elected officials to file disclosures of their
communications with any person or representative seeking a permit or license from
the City in connection with the permit or license.

amendment to the City’s ethics ordinance, titled “Standards of Conduct for City
Employees Relative to Improper Influence,” would also require the Board of
Aldermen and School Committee to file disclosures of communications with City
employees outside of public meetings that are about pending or reasonably
anticipated permit or license applications; pending or reasonably anticipated
citations, sanctions or legal violations; and personnel matters including
hirings, promotions and disciplinary matters. All required disclosures would be
due within three business days of the communication.

The expanded ordinance also
prohibits communications between elected officials and members of a City Board
or Commission regarding the substance of a permit or license’s approval,
denial, modification or termination unless in a public hearing or meeting,
except as allowed by the City Charter or state law. Members of the Board of
Aldermen and School Committee would also be prohibited from directing
non-elected City employees with respect to their official responsibilities,
except as otherwise allowed by City Charter or state law.

expanding the rigor of the City’s ethics ordinance to require these
disclosures, members of the public would know that City employees and board and
commission members are able to carry out their duties unfettered by political

“We document everything that
passes through City Hall. Whether a request about parking tickets or permit
applications, everything is available to the public. We must make that the law
for every elected official,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We will ensure
accountability and equal access to city government. The public should have
confidence that everyone receives equal treatment by the City—not based on who
they know, but on the merits of their request or application. We are already a
model for the Commonwealth in myriad areas. We will be a model for the
Commonwealth in openness and transparency too.”

Disclosures would be filed by
members of the Board of Aldermen and School Committee on a standard form to the
City Clerk; the Mayor’s disclosures would be retained in the Mayor’s Office.
The disclosures would include a description of the subject matter of the
communication, a summary, and the medium, time and date of the communication.

The tougher ethics requirements
proposal, first announced in Mayor Curtatone’s January 2014 inaugural address
and submitted to the Board of Aldermen today, follows Mayor Curtatone’s
proposal in May 2013 to set stricter
standards on campaign contributions
to elected
officials from anyone who does business with the City.

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