By now, you have probably seen notices and/or posters that Missouri City is seeking volunteers for the newly created Ethics Commission. The deadline to apply for a seat on the Commission has been extended until Feb. 28, 2022.
You may be asking yourself, “Should I volunteer? Does the Ethics Commission matter?” The answer is a resounding “YES!” This primer will tell you everything you need to know about the Commission, and why ethics should matter to all residents and stakeholders in the Show Me City.
What is the Ethics Commission, and what does it do?
The Ethics Commission is a seven-person panel of citizens that will investigate and address ethics complaints against City officials. The term “ethics” refers to a set of principles that elected and other municipal officials must follow. The Commission will investigate complaints on a case-by-case basis.
When was the Commission formed and why?
The Ethics Commission of Missouri City was established pursuant to a unanimous City Council vote on June 21, 2021, approving Ordinance No. O-21-27. The Commission was formed because the City wanted to establish an environment in which ethics concerns could be investigated and addressed in an orderly manner. The Commission was initially proposed by Councilmember Jeffrey L. Boney in the fall of 2020.
Do other cities have Ethics Commissions?
Yes. Other cities in our region that have an Ethics Commission include Sugar Land, Houston, Baytown, Pearland and League City.
Which City officials are subject to the Commission’s authority?
The Ethics Commission is authorized to investigate the mayor, city councilmembers, board and commission members, city manager, city attorney and city secretary.
What types of activities does the City’s Code of Ethics prohibit?
Pursuant to Section 2-604 (Standards of conduct) of the ethics ordinance, no city official shall:
- While acting in his or her official capacity, grant or influence the granting of any special consideration, advantage or favor to any person beyond that which is:
- The general practice to grant or make available to the public at large;
- The general practice in assisting other governmental entities;
- The general practice in aiding or promoting the economic development of the city; or
- Authorized through a variance, special exception or other similar exception provided for in this code or by law;
- Make use of staff, vehicles, equipment, materials or property, including the logo of the city, except in the course of the city’s official duties, or engage in conduct that could violate V.T.C.A., Penal Code Section 39.02(a)(2) (relating to abuse of official capacity), as such section may be amended;
- Use information received by the city official, by virtue of his or her city position, in a manner that could violate V.C.T.A., Penal Code Section 39.06 (relating to misuse of official information), as such section may be amended;
- Violate an express prohibition in the city’s charter;
- Publicly or privately, orally or in writing, defame or harass, based on the commonly used legal definitions for such terms, any city official or city employee;
- Appear on behalf of his or her own financial interest or personal interest of any kind or on behalf of any other person, business entity, group, or interest before the city council, any city board, commission or committee, except in matters of public concern or when requesting reimbursement for authorized expenses relating to city business; or
- Fail to respond to a request for information or documentation by the ethics commission or the investigating attorney acting on behalf of the ethics commission, when the requested information is relevant to an ongoing investigation.
Who is eligible to serve on the Commission?
Those eligible to serve are Missouri City residents who are:
- over 18 years of age;
- do not have a conviction for a Class B misdemeanor or higher or a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude.
- are not be related, in any degree, to a City official that is in office; and
- within the three years prior, have not been:
- a City official or City employee;
- a campaign treasurer, campaign manager, officer or other policy or decision-maker for the campaign of any candidate elected to City Council, while that candidate is in office;
- a donor to the campaign of any City official;
- a campaign treasurer, campaign manager, officer or other policy or decision-maker for any political action committee as defined in V.T.C.A. Texas Election Code; or
- a member of any City board or commission other than the Ethics Commission.
How much of my time will I have to volunteer?
Each member of the Ethics Commission serves a three-year term. Meetings are held as needed, when the Commission receives an Ethics complaint.
To learn more about the Ethics Commission or to apply, Click Here.
For more updates, please watch the City website: www.missouricitytx.gov, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—@MissouriCityTX and Nextdoor, watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T) or download the MCTX Mobile app (available for free in Google Play and the Apple app store).