Floral Park eyes changes to ethics law

Grace McQuade
Floral Park’s Village Hall is seen on Floral Boulevard. (Photo from Google Maps)

Floral Park’s Board of Trustees is considering several revisions to the ethics code for village officials and employees to get the village code in line with state ethics guidelines.

Over the past few months, the village Board of Ethics, whose members were appointed by Mayor Thomas Tweedy and approved by village trustees, met  three times to review the existing code, which had not been revised in decades, and suggest changes.

As part of the review, the members compared the current village laws with the model code of ethics set by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office and, where needed, added language to correspond with state ethics regulations while establishing the village’s own code of conduct, village officials said.

“Adopted in 1970, our ethical code has served this village well” and the new law “amends that chapter to update our code and incorporate the many changes imposed by our state and federal government,” Tweedy said Tuesday.

The ethics code governs all municipal employees, whether paid or unpaid.

The measures are meant to ensure there is no misconduct, such as bribery or corruption, in the village government.

The proposed changes would add anti-nepotism provisions that restrict village employees from hiring, promoting, supervising, disciplining or firing a relative, and clarify the definition of a relative as any spouse, parent, step-parent, sibling, step-sibling, sibling’s spouse, child, step-child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, first cousin or household member of a municipal officer or employee.

The new law would also say no public official or worker can, directly or indirectly, solicit or accept any gift valued at $25 or more if could be inferred that the gift was meant as a reward or to influence an employee in the performance of official duties.
Other provisions would restrict public officials’ and employees’ present and future work for private companies with which they dealt in their government jobs.

The revisions would also require the new code of ethics must be distributed to every village officer and employee within 20 days after the changes take effect, which would happen once they are filed with the New York secretary of state.

The Board of Trustees will accept comments on the proposed changes until its next meeting on Jan. 17, when it will likely vote on them, village Clerk Susan Walsh said.

Under state law, one of the five members on the village ethics board must be an elected or appointed official or employee, said village Deputy Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald, who sits on Floral Park’s ethics board.

Additionally, ethics board members cannot be paid for their services.

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