Handling of ethics complaint reflects well on Rochester
The city of Rochester should feel very proud of how a recent ethics complaint was handled. The complaint of a possible conflict of interest by two members of the Heritage Preservation Commission may not be a typical complaint, but it was dealt with in a very professional manner due to the existence of the Rochester Ethical Practices Board.
This board realizes official city business must not just be ethical — it also must appear ethical. By developing a process to allow the filing of a complaint, have the complaint investigated and then judged by impartial individuals is a real asset to this city. There are cities in Minnesota where complaints can linger for years. That is not healthy and can contaminate city business. The hiring of an outside investigator is not the norm but was appropriate in this case. This neutrality preserves the appearance of ethical behavior.
The board offers the option for citizens and employees to request an assessment of a potential ethical situation by filing an inquiry with the board. Developing clear ethical guidelines and offering mechanisms for inquiry increases the level of civic engagement and reduces the need for formal complaints. The solution offered by the Ethical Practices Board allows the city to focus on the job of moving Rochester forward.
Chairman, Common Cause Minnesota