Marshfield council considers creation of city Ethics Board
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield aldermen are considering the creation of a city Ethics Board. Alder Ed Wagner presented the idea to his colleagues at the Oct. 27 common council meeting.
“In the past six months, this common council has been rocked by a lot of I guess you call them scandals, for lack of a better term,” he said. “Charges being filed against the police chief and others, and going back and forth. A lot of these things could have been probably handled, instead of through lawyers, probably handled through an Ethics Committee.
“We do have an Ethics Code. The problem is it is sort of a dead end; there is no place to take it when you go there. I think that this opens up a whole new area for us in being able to train people that we have serving on boards and commissions, as to what exactly is a conflict of interest and teaches them how to avoid it.”
Jenny Jirschele of Marshfield helped write the proposed Ethics Board ordinance, and told council members its purpose is to provide citizens with confidence in the integrity of city government.
“A creation of this ordinance does not change the city’s existing code of ethic,” she explained. “So, the city has an existing code of ethics, has had an existing code of ethics for many years, and all of the appointees and elected officials on our boards and commissions and council already have to adhere to that code of ethic.
“All that this ordinance does is it gives the city a mechanism by which they can investigate and come to a conclusion or make a determination on complaints or violations of that code of ethics.”
Jirschele has 15 years of public service experience working in human resources, specifically doing ethics investigations of state and public officials.
The Board of Ethics would be made up of three members – two citizens nominated and elected by members of the common council, plus a member of the bar nominated by the Wood County Bar Association.
The proposal was approved by the Finance, Budget and Personnel Committee on Oct. 20, and is scheduled for common council action Nov. 10.