KYLE — In a 6-1 decision last Tuesday, Kyle City Council approved an amended ordinance repealing and replacing the city’s code of ethics ordinance No. 961 on second reading.
A first reading of the ordinance was held at the Dec. 20 meeting, where council had a full discussion on the amendments following a presentation by Kyle Ethics Commission Chairman Mike Rubsam.
On Jan. 3, council member Yvonne Flores-Cale, the single dissenting vote, was concerned about how the ethics ordinance would define conflicts of interest. Flores-Cale wanted to leave the sentence in Section 2-142 Statement of Purpose that reads, “The appearance of impropriety may itself be a conflict of interest,” to be consistent with state recusal provisions. Council member Zuniga seconded the motion, and there was a discussion.
“I think having a solid ethics policy is is going to, essentially, be what comes down to the council and to the staff and creates an ethical staff and leadership,” Flores-Cale said.
The dissenting council member said she wasn’t sure who previously brought up striking the sentence because it was done in an executive session.
“Even though it came collectively to us, we don’t know who brought that up. I don’t know if the attorney brought that up. I don’t know if it was overall, everybody said yes or if it was a majority and that also makes me a little bit uncomfortable as well,” she said.
Council member Bear Heiser said the term “perception of impropriety” was “very broad.”
“Perception is different, you know. Mine is different than someone else’s,” Heiser said. “It just seems like there’s a lot of leeway if there were to be an agenda by someone who perceived a conflict of interest that would be aired publicly. Whether or not there might not be merit to it is just the conversation itself is enough to pollute perception of somebody’s interests.”
Parsley asked who determines whether or not there is an appearance of impropriety.
“There [are]too many backgrounds in here that any agenda item at any point could look like, ‘You should recuse yourself,’” Parsley said.
In this instance, city attorney Paige Saenz recommended “stepping back” and identifying who decides.
“If you have a fellow council member citizen raise the issue during the meeting then you know there’d be some analysis and review of it,” Saenz said. “If someone feels there was a violation, then a complaint would be filed and then the Ethics Commission reviews the issue based on the facts and circumstances, makes a determination and recommendation to council. Also, an ethics opinion could be requested from the ethics commission.”
After a roll-call vote, Flores-Cale’s motion failed 5-2, with Flores-Cale and Zuniga voting in favor of keeping the sentence. Ultimately, the amended ethics ordinance, without the sentence in question, was passed.
Residents can find the changes to the ordinance in the agenda pack or visit https://www.cityofkyle.com/council/kyle-city-council-meeting-266