At its June 4, 2021, meeting, the ICMA Executive Board voted to approve the following ethics recommendations from the ICMA Committee on Professional Conduct (CPC) after a thorough review process:
Chris Eppley, former city manager, Keizer, Oregon, was publicly censured for conduct in violation of Tenet 3 of the ICMA Code of Ethics. The board’s decision included the provision that his participation in the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program be revoked and he would be eligible to reapply after a period of five years. Eppley accidentally discharged a firearm in his city hall office in a March 2021 incident and on several other occasions brought a loaded firearm into the office in violation of city policy. The board concluded that Eppley’s conduct put his employees, himself, and others in harm’s way, as well as exposed the city to significant legal and financial risk.
Mark Haddad, town manager, Groton, Massachusetts, was publicly censured and suspended from membership for a period of three years for conduct that violated Tenets 3 and 7 of the ICMA Code of Ethics. Haddad resides in Grafton, Massachusetts, and offered his public endorsement for two candidates running for a seat on Grafton’s governing body in a letter to the editor in May 2020, endorsed a candidate in the 2018 Grafton governing body election, and financially contributed to the campaign of one of the candidates he had endorsed in 2020.
In addition, Haddad serves as an appointed member of the finance committee in Grafton. Under local law in Grafton, the role of the finance committee is to 1) hold a public hearing on the budget; 2) review the proposed budget for each department by working with the department and town administrator; 3) provide recommendations on the budget to the town meeting; and 4) offer any amendments to the town administrator’s proposed budget. This role placed Haddad in the position to contact and work with the incumbent town administrator’s employees and provide recommendations and budgetary amendments that could serve to publicly undermine the town administrator’s budget proposals. The board concurred with the CPC’s determination that it is a conflict of interest for a manager to serve on a Massachusetts local government finance committee in the community where the manager resides and Haddad’s service on the finance committee created the opportunity to undermine a colleague and reflects poorly on the profession.
Chris Heard, former city administrator, Dickinson, Texas, was publicly censured and suspended from membership for a period of five years for conduct that violated Tenets 3 and 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics. Heard had a pattern of making very unprofessional comments in the workplace that violated city policy and resulted in the city expending resources to hire a consultant to investigate these matters, among other employee allegations about his conduct.
The board concluded Heard leveraged his position for personal gain in his approach to seeking employment for his girlfriend. After the city had provided office space to a state agency, Heard attended this state agency’s workshop in city hall in his capacity as the manager. When the workshop ended, Heard inquired if the agency was hiring, then immediately shared his girlfriend’s resume with a representative of this state agency.
The board concurred with the CPC’s finding that Heard failed to uphold the highest ethical standards expected of ICMA members and affirmed that managers have a responsibility to model appropriate personal and professional conduct at all times to set the correct ethical tone for the organization.
Members are encouraged to read the ICMA Code of Ethics and Guidelines. As a member benefit, ICMA provides confidential advice to members who may be uncertain of their ethical obligation or who need guidance to resolve an ethical dilemma. Contact Martha Perego, director, ICMA Member Services and Ethics at 202-962-3668 / firstname.lastname@example.org; or Jessica Cowles, ethics advisor, at 202-962-3513 / email@example.com.
Ethics advice, information, and the ICMA Code of Ethics are available online.