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City Council examines ethics code

June 02, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- One of the first orders of business that the newly elected Hagerstown City Council intends to tackle is a review of the existing ethics code that governs elected officials.

On Tuesday, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and the five-member council spent their first work session listening to the city's attorneys talk about the Hagerstown City Charter, which among other things specifies the rules that elected officials are required to follow.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested that the ethics code be placed on an upcoming agenda for further discussion.

Metzner said he believed the existing system is flawed because it requires one body to hear an ethics complaint and another body to decide the punishment.

Ethics complaints against city officials currently are heard by the Washington County Ethics Commission. If it is determined that a violation occurred, the matter goes to the City Council to determine whether disciplinary action is necessary.

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Metzner said after the work session that he didn't have a solution, but would prefer that the council be taken out of the equation entirely.

Councilman William Breichner suggested that the ethics code be studied by an outside agency to eliminate bias.

The council agreed to revisit the issue during a work session in August.

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