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Hays approves ethics changes for contractors
Friday, April 17, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham
Barton’s self-styled “Ethics Begins At Home” resolution would mandate that the county consider corporate ethics when hiring contractors. He pointed to corporate bank fraud, recent scandals at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative and the well-publicized bribery conviction of former KBR President Jack Albert as reasons to be more aware of who the county is doing business with.
The commissioner said the resolution would give a “competitive edge to companies who are doing the right thing.”
The resolution directed District Attorney Sherri Tibbe and her chief of the civil division, Mark Kennedy, along with the purchasing director Cindy Maiorka, to prepare policy for the court and examine five areas of interest.
The proposed resolution would prohibit the county from working with firms that “have in their employ chief executive officers, corporate officers… or other key personnel that have been found guilty of felonies or crimes of moral turpitude in the past five years.” He said such crimes would include crimes such as fraud and crimes committed in the scope of work. “Someone may have a misdemeanor DWI and is a project manager – that would not apply,” said Barton.
The resolution would require companies to inform the county of any ongoing investigations or convictions of key individuals, subsidiaries or parent companies. He made note that “a firm is not prohibited from doing work for
The resolution included “the right to consider and terminate,” those who may have the kind of ethical violations Barton described or who may be indicted or convicted during the work phase. “It doesn’t mean we will, but it gives us the right,” he said.
Barton proposed two exceptions to the rules. The commissioners court could overrule the standards if it decided that the company provided services “not readily available elsewhere and it was critically important to the citizens of
Judge Liz Sumter suggested broadening the ethics policies of the county to “coincide” with the resolution. The county currently has a code of ethics and background checks amongst other policies. Pct. 4 Commissioner Karen Ford called it a “timely and appreciated action,” and commented on the amount of emails she had received about KBR.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe praised Barton’s work and said she looked forward to hearing from the committee. Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley likewise thanked and applauded Barton’s efforts. He said his concerns revolved around what the legal staff would ultimately say. “I want us to set a high standard but at the same time I want us to be realistic of what we can accomplish,” he said.
The staff committee will return in the next 60 days with final legal language for the resolution.
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