Lewes is reestablishing its board of ethics nearly four years after the state Public Integrity Commission declined the city’s request that the commission take over the board's duties.
The board hears and decides cases of public officials and some public employees accused of violating the city’s code of conduct.
Lewes Mayor and City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to appoint citizens to its ethics board at the panel’s Nov. 19 meeting. Over time, terms of all five previous board members had expired.
Mayor Jim Ford appointed Charlotte Bastian, Diana Beebe, Mark Harris, Michael Krausz and Carolyn Quinn to the board, and all were approved.
The Public Integrity Commission hears and decides alleged conduct code violations concerning state and municipal officials that do not have an ethics panel.
To form an ethics board, state law requires municipalities to adopt a code of conduct that is at least as stringent as the state’s and is approved by the Public Integrity Commission. Lewes has long been in compliance with the requirement.
The city sought to eliminate its board because it rarely convened, asking the state commission to take over the job.
The commission responded more than three years ago, in March 2009, that it has no authority to take back jurisdiction over a municipality that had previously adopted an approved code of conduct and had established a board of ethics.
Lewes’ request to have the state reassume its ethics hearings was not without precedence. In 2002, New Castle County made the same request; the commission said as a matter of law it had no authority to revert jurisdiction.
Ford said in retrospect, Lewes will be better served having its own ethics panel.