Half Moon Bay city leaders participated in a government-mandated training Tuesday evening focused on the ethical duties required of public officials.
The 2.5 hour training was held in an effort to comply with state law AB1234, which expects elected and appointed officials to receive at least two hours of ethics training every two years.
“Public servants are just that,” said Caio Arellano, attorney with Santa Cruz firm Atchinson, Barisone, Condotti & Kovacevich. “They should not receive benefits by virtue of the fact they hold these positions.”
City Attorney Tony Condotti along with Arellano gave the presentation that covered such topics as fair process, personal financial gain, personal advantages and perks as well as open government.
The attorneys said that while law present distinct rules and regulations, ethics may take more thought.
“They reflect really the floor of ethical decision making in government,” Condotti said of laws as opposed to ethics.
A good rule of thumb, Condotti said, is for officials to ask themselves if they’d like to see their actions in the headlines.
Councilmembers questioned some ethics that often presented fine lines.
Councilmember Rick Kowalcyzk voiced some confusion with the idea that public officials should always be impartial and avoid favoritism.
“I can envision a myriad of situations in which you might have an opinion,” he said.
Condotti said if questions arise it is best to consult the city attorney or the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
In keeping with the ethics discussed, councilmembers signed the city's first-ever .
The two-page code, developed by city staff earlier this year, will act as a framework to guide the conduct of Half Moon Bay's public officials. Elected officials will now be required to sign the code upon taking office.
Youth Summit Report Back
Earlier in the evening, local students who participated in the in Half Moon Bay spoke of their experiences at the event aimed at providing an outlet for youth to discuss their age specific issues.
“When we presented this to the community they really stepped forward and they came out,” said San Mateo County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Smyser.
Approximately 140 students took part in the summit's workshops in order to develop solutions to concerns such as , cyber , teen health and technology and innovation.
“Supporting big companies is not always a good idea because big companies have big bureacrats,” said eighth grader Matthew Dupree.
Dupree took part in an entrepreneurial workshop in which students discussed the need for education and support in terms of technology and innovation.
The students, Dupree said, suggested that the city allocate property to allow local start-ups to rent the space.
Councilmember Naomi Patridge, who attended a session with former gang member and motivational speaker Willie Stokes, commended coordinators for their choice of high quality speakers.
“He was a dynamic speaker and held the attention of the kids,” Patridge said of Stokes. “He would be really good to come back next year.”
Deputy Smyser said they would continue bringing in powerful speakers and was optimistic that Stokes would return for the summit next year.
Mayor Allan Alifano said he hoped the summit would continue to thrive for the benefit of local students.
“I hope we can double the amount of kids next year,” he said.
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