May 29, 2015


Useful review

Mayor Sam Katz's executive policy committee usefully has ordered the civic administration to consider whether some city workers should have to disclose their assets and those of their immediate family members.

The decision follows the case of a city building inspector who was alleged to have sold doctored engineering blueprints to a builder. The inspector also did design work for a company registered to his wife, a clear conflict of interest. It's unknown, however, if the employee disclosed the conflict to his manager, as required by the code of conduct, but the case was being investigated internally.

The city's code of conduct is similar to the province's and that of other cities. It requires employees to disclose potential conflicts and to "avoid situations in which their personal interest conflicts, or appears to conflict, with the interests of the city."

The mayor and councillors are required to disclose their business interests to bolster public confidence, but it's another matter to make the same demand of key employees, who may decline certain job opportunities if it means disclosing private information.

Workers who violate the code can be dismissed, which is a strong incentive for compliance. There are very few known cases of violation, but the city's study could determine if there is enough concern to warrant full disclosure for some workers. It is a worthwhile review, particularly at a time when the public is demanding higher standards from its public service and elected officials.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2013 A14

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