Last week, the Santa Fe City Council voted to repeal Resolution 2000-32—which created the city’s Ethics and Rules Committee—“for the purpose,” the new resolution reads, “of eliminating the Ethics and Rules Committee.”
It’s the latest step in an effort to reform the city’s ethics codes after last year’s accusations of shady work by Advantage Asphalt—the company for which City Councilor Matt Ortiz was attorney.
“When Councilor Ortiz said in his defense of his actions that he felt that the existing ordinance was vague and confusing and contradictory, we said, ‘Well, let’s go ahead and make sure it isn’t,’” Marilyn Bane, the president of the Santa Fe Neighborhood Network, says.
Bane has worked with City Councilor Patti Bushee to eliminate the Ethics and Rules Committee, which included city councilors (including Ortiz) and overlapped with the more independent Ethics and Campaign Review Board.
The board, meanwhile, will derive its authority from the community, not the council: Instead of councilors appointing board members, local organizations will submit nominations to the mayor and council for approval.
A bid to designate one board member as an ethics ombudsman is still in the works. Bane says she’s working with City Manager Robert Romero to determine whether the responsibility for fielding calls from concerned citizens and whistleblowers could be assigned to a city employee instead.
Either way, the city’s months-long ethics reform process is coming to fruition: Bane says a new ordinance will likely come before the City Council later this month.