Ethics & the Plan Commission


DeKalb’s Plan Commission has a Code of Ethics (PDF pp. 1-2). It’s flawed, but there you go. My emphasis added.

d) Code of Ethics. Plan Commission members shall abide by a code of ethics as follows: (03-18)

1. Members shall exercise impartial and independent judgment in their roles as advisors to the City Council.

2. Members shall be adequately prepared to render thorough and diligent service and to fairly apply facts and information to the decision at hand.

3. Members shall disclose all direct personal financial interest in any proposal, project or development before the Commission and indicate any personal financial benefit that could result from a decision made by the commission. When concerned that there is a potential appearance of a conflict of interest or a public perception of conflict of interest the Commissioner should recuse him/herself from the particular proposal. When in doubt, the Commissioner may seek advice, for example, from the City Attorney, Planning Staff, other Commission members, or others to determine if a conflict or public perception of conflict might exist.

4. Members shall not seek nor accept gifts or favors under circumstances in which it could be reasonably inferred that the gifts or favors could influence the Commissioner’s decisions or actions.

5. Members shall not use confidential information acquired in the course of their duties to further a personal financial interest and that any information available under the “FOIA,” Freedom of Information Act shall not be viewed as confidential.

6. Members shall refrain from deliberating and voting on any petition for annexation, rezoning, variance, special use permit or subdivision plan in which the Commissioner has in the last 365 days participated in a personal capacity as an advisor, director, board member or paid advocate. This restriction shall not apply to a Commissioner’s participation in a City-sponsored Board or Committee charged with advising the Commission or City Council on a particular matter. (07-49)

7. Members shall avoid discussions with parties having financial interest or their representatives regarding a specific request for an annexation, rezoning, variance, special use permit or subdivision approval that is either before the Commission, or is intended to be presented to the Commission, unless said discussions occur in a public meeting. This shall not apply to discussion with City Staff members. (07-49)

8. Members shall not make any statements of position (outside of Plan Commission meetings) on matters before the Commission until after the item(s) has been presented to the Commission and a Commission recommendation has been made on the item. (07-49)

e) Removal. Plan Commission members may be removed from appointed office under the provisions of 65 ILCS 5/3.1-35-10. (03-18)

The June 16 Plan Commission meeting (PDF pp. 29-35) included a public hearing on the proposed hog slaughtering operation on the south side. According to the meeting minutes, Commissioner Vince Frye participated fully in the discussion up until the vote, when Commissioner Tom Specht suggested he “abstain from the vote as he lives close in proximity to the proposed property.” Frye did abstain.

Did Frye’s participation in the hearing and discussion constitute an ethical violation? In my view, if you have to ask the question, it probably did.