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Ethics Commission

Bi-Annual Report 2003 


 

2002-2003 Biannual Report
of the
Unified Government Ethics Program
Ethics Commission
and
Office of the Ethics Administrator
 

Table of Contents 

Ethics Commission: 3
Ethics Administration: 4
Unified Government Ethics Training: 5
Statistical Review of Ethics Trainings in 2002-2003. 5
Action Taken by Ethics Commission: 6
2002: 6
2003: 6
Ethics Investigations: 7
Initiation of Investigations. 7
Disposition of Investigations. 7
 


Ethics Commission 

The Ethics Commission of the Unified Government is comprised of five members appointed by the Ad Hoc Ethics Commission Appointment Panel, and with one of the serving members designated by the Panel as Chair. The Panel enjoyed the continued service throughout 2002 and 2003 of the Honorable Philip L. Sieve (Administrative Judge of the Wyandotte County District Court), Nick A. Tomasic (Wyandotte County District Attorney), and Thomas E. Standish (Wyandotte County Legislative Auditor).

According to the Code of Ethics, the Ethics Commission is responsible to ensure training of all UG employees and officials; review, investigate and comment on any office and/or activity of the Unified Government, as such pertains to ethical conduct and compliance with the Code; and, recommend ways to improve the Code to the Unified Government Board of Commissioners.

In 2002-2003 the Ethics Commission consisted of the following members:

Kerry Herndon (Chair, January 2002 – July 2003)

Ms. Herndon was appointed to the Ethics Commission in 1999 to serve a four-year term representing the Piper area. In 2000 she was named Chairperson of the Ethics Commission and reappointed in 2001. Ms. Herndon has lived in Kansas City, Kansas for over 24 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Geology and Biology from Stephen F. Austin University in Texas as well as Bachelor of Science degrees in English and German. Ms. Herndon is currently employed as an Environmental Scientist in the Superfund division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Kansas City, Kansas.

Jim Ernst (Member)

Mr. Ernst was initially appointed to the Ethics Commission in 1999 to serve a two-year term representing the Turner area. He was reappointed to serve a four-year term commencing in 2001 (will expire in 2005). Mr. Ernst is a lifelong Kansas City, Kansas resident, having graduated from Wyandotte High School. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications degree from Kansas State University, and has been employed as a Product Consultant for Burke Inc. for over 21 years.

Sara Gilespie (Member)

Ms. Gillespie was initially appointed to the Ethics Commission in 1999 to serve a two-year term representing the Argentine area. She was reappointed to serve a four-year term commencing in 2001 (will expire in 2005). Ms. Gillespie is a lifelong Kansas City, Kansas resident, having graduated from J. C. Harmon High School. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Emporia State University, and is currently employed as a substitute teacher in the Kansas City, Kansas, Piper, and Turner School Districts.

Loris Jones (Member, January 2002 – July 2003)

Ms. Jones commenced her service on the Ethics Commission as one of the original members appointed in 1999, and representing the Northeast Area. Her term will expire in 2003. Ms. Jones is a lifelong resident of Kansas City, Kansas, having graduated from Sumner High School. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Pittsburg Teacher’s College (now Pittsburg State University), and a Master of Science in Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Jones is a retired educator, having taught for more than 40 years in District 500.

Mark Mitchell (Member, resigned December 2002)

Mr. Mitchell commenced his service on the Ethics Commission in 1999, having been appointed to serve out the unexpired term of Roger McLean in representing the Central Area. Mr. Mitchell’s term will expire in 2003. He has resided in Kansas City, Kansas since 1967. A graduate of Cheraw High School, Mr. Mitchell also holds a Bachelor of Christian Ministry degree from Williamstown Bible College, and is currently working on a Master of Business Administration at The University of Kansas.

Dr. Theodore Stolfus (Chair, Introduced July 2003)

Background narrative currently not available

Roy L. Robinson (Introduced July 2003)

Background narrative currently not available

Dr. Robert Baynham (Introduced July 2003)

Background narrative currently not available
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Ethics AdministrationH. George Frederickson, Ph.D. (Ethics Administrator)

Dr. Frederickson has continued to serve as the Ethics Administrator for the Unified Government since the advent of the Ethics Program. Dr. Frederickson is the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas since 1987. The Ethics Administrator serves as the executive agent of the Ethics Commission and is the primary focal point for the coordination and conduct of ethics investigations and training.

Mike Manske (Assistant Ethics Administrator, January 2002 – October 2002, August 2003 – December 2003)

Mr. Manske has participated with the Ethics Administration of the Unified Government since its implementation in 1998. Mr. Manske is a former prosecutor, City Attorney, and practicing attorney, and is currently employed as a full-time professor at Washburn University, teaching in the areas of law, criminal justice, and political science. Mike has been the principle investigator and administrative support staff for the Ethics Program. Mike is currently a doctoral student in Political Science at the University of Kansas.

David Matkin (Ethics Instructor, Introduced September 2003)

Mr. Matkin joined the Ethics Administration staff in September 2003 in order to assist in continued ethics sessions for the UG fire department. David is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas, studying Public Administration. He holds an MPA from Brigham Young University. David has over 5 years of experience in training and implementing government programs at the State and Federal level.
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Unified Government Ethics Training 

Ethics training in the Unified Government includes two activities: 1) basic ethics, and 2) continued ethics. Basic ethic training is provided to all newly hired employees, as well as elected officials. Basic training includes a review of the ethics code, a discussion of why we have an ethics standard, testing of ethics principles using fact pattern scenarios, and instruction on how the ethics commission and ethics administration work, including how to file an ethics complaint. Continued ethics training takes place three years after the employee’s basic training or last continued ethics training. This training is used to update employees and officials on current ethics issues and reinforce prior training.
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Statistical Review of Ethics Trainings in 2002-2003Basic Ethics Training*: 

2002: 100 (three sessions)
2003: 115 (six sessions)

Continued Ethics Training*: 

2002: 160 (10 sessions)
2003: 274 (10 sessions)

325 (10 sessions: Fire Department)
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Action Taken by Ethics Commission:2002: 

  • Creation of UG Ethics website was completed. Ethics Commission was hopeful that the website would help create a more visible face of the Ethics Commission to the public as well as provide an accessible outlet for making available meeting minutes, agendas, and a current version of the Ethics Code.
  • Draft change to Ethics Code was submitted to Unified Government Commission. The proposed change was sent in December 2002 and was in regard to current language in the Ethics Code which prohibits all “officials” from running for public office. The Ethics Commission seeks to change this wording to allow appointed members of various boards and commissions to take a leave of absence if they want to pursue an elected position in the Unified Government.

2003: 

  • The major concern for the Ethics Commission in 2003 was the development of an ethics program in the Board of Public Utilities. The Ethics Commission was active in making recommendations as to the BPU’s progress. The BPU ratified an ethics policy to be implemented on January 1, 2004 and created there own distingue ethics commission. The UG Ethics Commission was supportive of a BPU ethics program, and supportive that the policy reflected much of the same standards put forth in the UG Code of Ethics. However, the UG Ethics Commission recommended that they serve as the commission for the BPU and sent correspondence to the BPU on this matter. In as much as the BPU created their own ethics commission, the UG Ethics Commission sent correspondence to the UG Board of Commissioners requesting that the division between the UG Ethics Commissions responsibility over all ethic concerns in the UG and not over the BPU be made publicly explicit.
  • Ethics Program was nominated for the American Society for Public Administration’s Public Integrity Award. Letters of recommendation were received by Mayor Carol Marinovich, County Administrator Dennis Hays, District Attorney Nick Tomasic, Past Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce for the State of Kansas (1995-2003) Gary Sherrer. As of the writing of this document, no news has been received as to the award status.
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    Ethics Investigations:Initiation of Investigations:
    The telephone hotline remains the most popular communication method through which contacts were made. The hotline is maintained in the Office of the Ethics Administrator, and consists of a confidential answering machine which is remotely accessed every 48 hours (necessary since the office is not otherwise staffed, nor is telephone reception available during normal working hours). In order to increase access with the Office, the answering machine message was changed at the beginning of the year to advise callers about the confidentiality of their calls, as well as providing the Assistant Director’s home telephone number in case their call was not returned within 48 hours.

2002-2003 Hotline Contacts[*]: 

Hotline Contacts: 195
Hang-ups, computer messages: 139
UG Customer Complaints: 13
Actual Complaints Investigated: 41

The number of contacts received by verbal report is significantly less than those received by the hotline, contacts received by verbal report generally occur at the end of an ethics training session. There were six complaints initiated through verbal complaint. Total numbers of telefax, mail, and e-mail initiated complaints is four.
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Disposition of Investigations:Of the contacts received during the year, more than 70% are described as “unclear reports” in which no action could be taken. These contacts represent calls to the hotline, recorded on the answering machine by time and date, but comprised of various types of calls for which no action could be taken: calls were terminated without message (dial tone or hang up indicated), or recordings where the caller’s message is unintelligible (garbled or inaudible). In many cases, these “unclear reports” disposed of as “No Action-Insufficient” represented complaining witnesses that failed or refused to make written statements. Although anonymous complaints received investigative attention, most resulted in no finding for lack of credibility or merit.


A response was made to all other contacts received, and in the case of requests for advisory opinions or other information, 100% of these contacts received favorable resolution. A large portion of the allegations are found to be complaints that are resolved through a referral to another agency either within or without of government. The Ethics Administrator and Assistant Ethics Administrator staff each allegation with Tom Standish (Legislative Auditor) and in cases where time allows, these cases have all been discussed with the Ethics Commission and report given in monthly Ethics Commission meeting when matter is of public record.


The single largest and most complex investigation had to do with the Office of the County Assessor. (check on the title of this office). Based on hotline contacts, the Ethics Administrator and his staff, working with officials from the Unified Government, investigated allegations of several violations involving seveal people of the Code of Ethics. The investigations and associated personnel actions has clarified to employees in the Office of the County Appraiser, the precise meaning of conflicts of interest the misuse of public property (employee time) and actions that constitute conflicts of interest and the misuse of public property. The Ethics Commission was kept regularly informed during the course of these investigations.


* Attendance at Ethics Training for 2002 is estimated from average attendance records.
[*] Hotline Contact Numbers for 2002 are estimated from minutes reports, 2001 annual report, and 2003 phone log.

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