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Post Hurricane Irma Update Information Here      Collier County Government offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24, in observation of Thanksgiving.

Ethics

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    Ethics Questions   

Every ethics issue is different and opinions may change based on the facts provided. Please be certain to contact your HR Generalist and/or the County Attorney’s Office when you have an ethics issue or questions.

If I enter a give-away contest, a breakfast or lunch, etc., for my department, may we all accept this meal or similar type give-away prize?
If the population at large was eligible to enter the contest and was eligible to win the contest, then it is permissible to accept the give-away. If, however, County employees were given special advantage or singled-out for the contest, this would be prohibited by CMA 5311, Code of Ethics.

What are the restrictions on giving supervisors Holiday gifts? If the gift is from a number of employees, may each employee be asked to contribute up to $50.00 toward the gift?
Employees may exchange gifts with other employees without violating the County Ethics Ordinance or the Code of Ethics set forth in CMA 5311 of the Human Resources Practices and Procedures. Under the amended Ethics Ordinance and the amended Code of Ethics, employees may now exchange gifts upon identified special occasions or established holidays provided the gifts are of "nominal commercial value", i.e., worth less than $50.00. Thus, a supervisor may exchange Holiday gifts with subordinate employees and vice versa. Each employee may voluntarily contribute up to $50.00 for a group gift. The Code of Ethics, paragraphs 6-10 specifically address this issue.
Please note that individual departments may have specific guidelines on exchanging gifts. Employees are advised to review these guidelines within their department.

If I am asked to speak at a civic event due to my official position with the County and I am offered both a presenter’s gift and a meal, may I accept both?
Pursuant to the County’s Ethics Ordinance, Ord. No. 2004-05, as amended, Section Five (a)(d), allows you to accept food and beverage when offered free to all speakers, when you are participating as a speaker. The food and beverage amount, however, should not exceed the per diem allowance as provided in Section 112.061(5), Fla. Stat. As to the gift for speaking, under Section Five (a)(f), gifts for participation are allowed as long as they are of a nominal commercial value and given in a remembrance traditional to the particular sponsoring entity. Nominal commercial value means less than $50.00 in the marketplace.

Should the food and beverage amount exceed the per diem amount, you may still accept the food and beverage but a written disclosure statement must be filed with the County Manager, on a County Manager from, within five (5) working days of the acceptance.
This opinion is based upon the facts as presented. Should the facts change, this opinion may also change.

As a County employee, I do not expect to be thanked for doing my job. However, some of our citizens would like to say "thank you. " Sometimes this is as simple as a brownie or a plate of cookies. It is really difficult to reject these items, especially if offered by a child or a senior citizen. Is it permissible to accept these items if they are then donated, offered to the public or placed in the break room for all the department employees to enjoy?
No. This is a hard part of the no gifts policy. You need to start by giving the citizen a short explanation that the County has a strict no gifts policy. Then using words to the effect...."I appreciate your offer of this gift, but I can't take it. Your effort to thank me and others, is so very kind and thoughtful, it makes our day." It is important that our citizens not come to believe or perceive that they are required to give "gifts" in order to receive a high level of service from County employees
There is a fine line of perception in the difference between a plate of cookies and a pair of tickets for an entertainment event. Collier County Government needs to continue to build and maintain the trust of its citizenry. The best thing to do is just say "no thank you" as graciously as one can.

What happens if your child plays on a little league team that is sponsored by someone who does work for the County?
Based on the limited facts provided, there is not an issue if the employee paid his child's registration fee. Again, however, the employee should, out of an abundance of caution and for appearance's sake, avoid participating in any vendor or contractor selection process involving the particular contractor in question. Please note that this answer also takes into account that the sponsor may provide uniforms, pizza etc. But these items are not being provided to single out a particular County employee or Department. In this regard, there is no gift as defined by the ordinance. (See Section 5.2.) Further, county employees should not solicit a vendor to be a sponsor.

Are you violating the Ethics ordinance if you play softball in the County Men's Softball League when the Team sponsor does work for the County? Assume that you paid the player registration yourself.
Based on these limited facts, there is not an issue if the employee paid his own registration. However, the employee should, out of an abundance of caution and for appearance's sake, avoid participating in any vendor or contractor selection process involving the particular contractor in question. Further, the employee should not accept any food or gift from the vendor.  

 

If you are a coach of a little league baseball team, and at the end of the year the parents want to show you their appreciation. All the parents get together and chip in to buy you a gift certificate for Sports Authority for 50 to 100 dollars. But the father of one of the boys on your team, is a contractor performing work for the County. Is this an Ethics violation?
The Sports Authority certificate would not be a gift as defined by the Ethics Ordinance. (See Section 5.2). Nevertheless, to avoid any appearance of impropriety, the County employee should not participate in vendor or contract approval involving the contractor in question.


As an employee of Collier County Government, may I solicit campaign contributions and/or actively campaign for candidates of my choice?
The answer to this question lies more within the County's other Practices and Procedures than within the Ethics Ordinance or Code of Ethics CMA. Per CMA 5320, Political Activity, "Active political campaigning or solicitation for political contributions during working hours is prohibited." According to CMA 5320, Solicitation, "Solicitation and/or distribution during working time of and by any employee are prohibited," and Distribution or display by employees of literature and/or products during working time in areas where the actual work of employees is performed is prohibited." CMA 5311, Code of Ethics, further states "Nor does this section prohibit county employees from participating in fund raising activities for charitable purposes." However, two of the objectives of the Ethics Ordinance are to assist employees to avoid using their positions as a public servant for unlawful gain or enrichment and to avoid conduct that gives the appearance of impropriety in the performance of their duties.
Therefore, the answer to your question generally is that you may campaign and solicit funds for a political candidate or a charitable organization, IF, the activity does not take place on County time, in County work areas or via County equipment, and if the County employee does NOT create the perception of using their position as a public servant. For example, an employee should not use one's title, drive a County vehicle, send out emails from County equipment or display one's County ID badge, etc., while engaging in any solicitation or campaigning activities.
You may also participate in a fund-raising activity for a charitable purpose.


Does the two-year post-employment restriction apply to a former employee who has been rehired by the County on a contractual basis?
The post-employment restriction does not apply to a former employee who is rehired by the County on a contractual basis.

What is meant by "material involvement"?
The word "material" used here was a very deliberate addition to the Ordinance. The intent was to distinguish between matters in which involvement was only minor or perfunctory versus those where involvement on a particular project was substantive. For example, typing and copying letters and documents, as well as other clerical duties, would not constitute material involvement. By contrast, conducting research and making recommendations to decision-makers based upon that research would constitute material involvement on a particular project, as would, attending and participating in County strategy sessions regarding a particular project.

Is it true that for a period of two years, as a former Collier County Government employee, I cannot work for any firm doing business with the County?
No, this is not true. However, all former County employees may be subject to a two-year ban from appearing for compensation on behalf of another person or entity before the BCC, its divisions, departments or boards if the matter on which they seek to appear is a matter in which they had material personal involvement during their period of County employment. The specific section of the Ethics Ordinance reads as follows:
Section 8: Post-Employment Restrictions***(b) For a period of two years following vacation of office, resignation of employment, or termination of employment, as applicable, except for the purposes of collective bargaining, no County employee shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the Board of County Commissioners or any of its divisions, departments, agencies, or boards on a matter in which he or she had material personal involvement during his or her period of County employment.


What causes an employee to be subject to post-employment restrictions?
The post-employment restrictions set forth in the Ethics Ordinance are triggered either by the former County employee's job title and responsibilities while employed by the County or by the former County employee's attempt to appear before the BCC or any of its divisions, departments or boards on a matter in which he or she had material personal involvement during his or her period of County employment. The restrictions would apply if the former employee was a department director or if his/her regular duties included the active monitoring or supervision or vouchering for contract performance of contractors employed by Collier County. Follows Ch.112, Fla. Stat.


May a County employee who owns a small business make phone calls on behalf of the business during his or her County working hours?
No - The transaction of business by a County employee in his or her official capacity as a controlling owner, officer, director or agent of another business entity during County working hours is a violation of County Ethics Code 5311, paragraph B.3. To conduct such business, the employee should take vacation or personal time or do it during authorized lunch/break periods. Further, outside employment must be disclosed, reviewed, and approved by the HR department.

May I give my boss a Holiday gift?
Employees may exchange gifts with other employees without violating the County Ethics Ordinance or the Code of Ethics set forth in CMA 5311 of the Human Resources Practices and Procedures. Under the amended Ethics Ordinance and the amended Code of Ethics, employees may now exchange gifts upon identified special occasions or established holidays provided the gifts are of "nominal commercial value", i.e., worth less than $50.00. Thus, a supervisor may receive a gift for Christmas from a subordinate employee and vice versa. The Code of Ethics, paragraphs 6-10 for specifically address this issue.  Please review with your department, as departments may have additional restrictions.