The purpose of Amendment 41 is to restrict gifts to public officials by placing limits on what they receive from companies or individuals who do business with the city. It also prohibits former state officials from lobbying employees and officials of the state for a defined period of time after leaving office.
Amendment 41 puts a clearly defined $50 limit per year on gifts for these officials from any single source with a long list of reasonable and well defined exceptions. The proposed city policy, not Amendment 41 is too vague since the proposed city ordinance fails to place the once in a calendar year limit but instead says such gifts are acceptable provided they are unsolicited and "occasional" gifts. What is an occasional gift? Twice a month? Twice a week? The proposed ordinance opens the door to city officials to receive gifts with an annual accumulated value in the hundreds of dollars instead of clearly limiting gifts from a single source to $50 per year as Amendment 41 does.
In addition, the proposed ordinance provides a laundry list of exceptions including travel paid for by private interests doing business with the city and meals and entertainment. In other words, under Amendment 41, the McWhinney's could no longer wine and dine council members and give them tickets to various sporting events. Under the newly proposed City of Loveland alternative they can continue to provide the City Council with lavish meals, free sports and concert tickets and even fly them to Hawaii before voting on a proposed development.
If the Loveland City Council was truly concerned about vagaries in Amendment 41, they could have addressed such items in their proposed ordinance. Instead, the proposed city ordinance simply restates what is already illegal under current law and provides vague language to create additional loopholes to the $50 gift limit. Changing a once in a calendar year limit to the word "occasional" simply opens the door to abuse. Calling "occasional" more precise is simply being dishonest. It is especially unfortunate the Reporter Herald failed to inform their readers of the truth in this matter and instead quoted from a League of Cities talking points and spokesperson instead of reading the two documents and reporting on the true differences between them for Loveland residents to know the facts.
It is abundantly clear, the new city ordinance attempts to exempt lots of free gifts (like meals) from the policy. In addition, the proposed language places simply a $1,000 limit for any fine for violations of the ordinance. In Amendment 41, any official who violates the policy may be fined double the value of the illegal gift. For example, a Councilor who receives a $10,000 gift could be find $20,000. Under the newly proposed city policy, a Councilor who is found to accept a $10,000 gift could be liable to pay a maximum fine of $1,000. This provides the recipient with an incentive to continue to violate the policy since being caught would not mean being fined more than the value of the gift.
Contrary to what the City Manager has represented to the City Council, Amendment 41 clearly exempts gifts from personal friends and family for special occasions. It also exempts gifts from an employer in the normal course of business. We encourage you to carefully read Amendment 41 and also the city alternative. The differences are clear, one limits gifts precisely while the other is intentionally vague and not easily enforced.
City Proposed Ordinance Is Clearly An Attempt To Undermine Amendment 41 Gift Limits