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County revisits ethics handbook for employees

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

The Grand County Board of Commissioners has sent the county personnel committee back to the drawing board to develop a piece of ethics literature for employees.

The committee presented the board with a proposed guide to ethical conduct for employees at its Nov. 2 meeting, but the piece fell flat before commissioners Merrit Linke and Kris Manguso who said they felt the brochure did little to address ethics in the workplace.

The tri-fold brochure presents a list of values-based and moral statements under the headers of vision, integrity, respect, excellence and passion.

“It seems like these are just things that are given, that you should just do,” Linke said.

Commissioner James Newberry said he was fine with the brochure.

“I think this is something that the idea was to put out something positive and try to at least throw it out there,” Newberry said.

Citizen Eden Recor, a member of the High Country Conservatives, said he felt the brochure didn’t address ethics.

“These are platitudes,” Recor said. “I think you’d be laughed out of most of our meetings if you said this is going to solve any kind of ethics problem.”

County policies have been a consistent target of criticism at HCC meetings this year.

There seemed to be some confusion as to the board’s direction to the personnel committee.

County Information Systems Director Martin Woros, who serves on the committee, said the idea behind the guide was for it to be a quick introduction to the county’s ethical objectives for new employees.

Grand County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene added that the county personnel manual already included policies on ethics.

“This is really a shorter version restating our policy, so frankly I don’t see a downside to it, but that was our first attempt at it, and I think it was a good one, personally,” Rosene said.

During an April 20 workshop, commissioners discussed adding an amendment to the personnel manual delineating the county’s ethical standards of conduct.

The policy workshop was one of several prompted by criticism from citizens of county policies in the wake of the Grand County Building Department scandal.

The board also discussed developing a separate handbook detailing the county’s code of ethics.

Discussions at the board’s Nov. 2 reached similar conclusions, and the board instructed the personnel committee to use existing ethics policies to create a comprehensive handbook or brochure for employees.

The literature may also include frequently asked questions for applying ethical guidelines.

County Community Planning Director Bill Gray likened the concept to a “reference guide” for ethical dilemmas in the workplace.

“It’s not replacing the policy manual or anything like that,” Gray said. “It’s, ‘how do you incorporate ethics into your daily activities and daily decisions in the role that you may have with the county?’”

Commissioners chose to repurpose the committee’s brochure as a statement of employee values and standards to be given to new employees.

“This is what we expect from our employees, but I don’t tie this to ethics personally,” Manguso said of the brochure. “Ethics to me is, again, avoid a conflict of interest. If you see something, say it. Take it up. Give it to somebody.”

Woros said the committee wouldn’t have any trouble with the board’s new directive.

“We’d done a lot of work getting up to that point, and I don’t think its going to be too big of a deal to pick that back up,” he said.


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