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Moss: Potential for lies warrants 'nuclear' option
4/3/2013 6:00:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
KINGMAN - Lying to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors would have criminal consequences for county employees under a proposed new ordinance, even though no one is saying that supervisors are being lied to - and the person proposing the new law doesn't think it will ever be used.
A public hearing on the proposal, which would make it a criminal offense for a county employee to lie to the Board of Supervisors in a public meeting, is scheduled on May 6.
"I firmly believe the best offense is a good defense," said District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss. "I don't think we'll ever use this, but having the option to go nuclear is a good idea.
"We're trying to do our best to make a good decision. This is to ensure that we are getting good information."
He said he tailored the ordinance to apply only when a county employee is speaking to the Board as a whole in a public meeting.
Deputy County Civil Attorney Bill Ekstrom said it might be difficult to enforce the ordinance if it passes, but he did not detail what those difficulties might be.
After being assured by Ekstrom that the Board has the authority to enact the ordinance, District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson said it's not needed.
"I think the best thing to do is hire qualified people," he said. "I think this is overkill."
The ordinance is just one part of a larger plan to ensure the Board is getting accurate information from employees, Moss said.
He pointed to District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius' request for an employee ethics handbook. Angius wants an ethics handbook that would dovetail with the county's merit rules, which are currently under revision.
"I want something that captures the essence of the merit rules, that's easier to read," she said.
County Human Resource Director Ray Osuna said his office could complete a draft of an ethics handbook by June 30.
Moss also asked for a conflict of interest form that employees would be required to fill out any time they or a family member did business with the county.
Arizona Revised Statutes requires counties to provide such forms to employees and keep them in a central file that can be accessed by the public.
It was revealed in 2010 that the county had not been keeping accurate records on potential employee conflicts of interest when Angius discovered that the Mohave County Library District was leasing office space from the spouses of two county employees.
The Board will discuss the form in a special meeting set for April 8.
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