Local News

Ethics board: Bailey broke one code, not the other

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Board of Ethics decided Thursday that Assembly Member Alan Bailey violated the borough’s conflict of interest code, but the board rejected a second ethics complaint that had been filed against him by two of his fellow Assembly members.

While the three-member Board of Ethics agreed that Bailey should have announced that his son works as a city dispatcher before the Assembly debated how much the borough should pay the city for that service, the board also agreed that the actual financial effect of any Assembly decision on that topic would be insubstantial for the younger Bailey.

After voting unanimously in favor of that first ethics complaint filed by Assembly Members Agnes Moran and Mike Painter, the board recommended – again unanimously – a light punishment.

Anna Shaffer, Chris Baca and David Landis agreed it would be appropriate for Bailey to review borough code regarding conflicts of interest, and then present a report on that topic to the Assembly during its upcoming annual training.

Borough code calls for a somewhat harsher punishment: A letter of reprimand. Shaffer explained why she supports what the board ultimately recommended.

“I suspect that he has learned a great deal without receiving an official letter of censure, and it would be much more helpful for everyone involved, and every member of the Assembly, to have it turned into a constructive learning experience of what it really does mean to need to disclose,” she said.

The ethics board was less unified over the second complaint, which claimed that Bailey failed to disclose that he was not representing the Assembly when he spoke during the public comment portion of a Ketchikan City Council meeting.

Shaffer and Baca agreed it was unfortunate that some people were confused, but it was clear to them that Bailey was speaking as an individual, and not representing the Assembly. Landis, though, who is a former Assembly member, said he has a different take on the issue.

“I know that it’s a high standard to meet, but it’s one we have to meet,” he said. “Those who choose to put themselves out there and stand for election and answer the questions throughout the community really do have to understand where things stop and start.”

Bailey defended his actions during the ethics hearing, and noted that he signed up to speak at that Council meeting as an individual, even though he didn’t say so out loud once he started his comments that night.

“When I came before that Council, my intentions were absolutely honorable,” he said. “They were not to represent the Assembly as a whole. Could I have been more clear and specific? Absolutely, and that mistake will never be made again.”

City Mayor Lew Williams III testified that he never believed Bailey was speaking as an Assembly member, but Assembly Members Moran and Painter testified that other city officials thought otherwise.

Moran said that based on Bailey’s comments at that meeting, the city manager’s office contacted the borough manager seeking clarification about an agreement between the two bodies. She cited that as proof that Bailey’s role that night was not clear.

The Board of Ethics voted 2-1 against the second ethics complaint. Landis cast the dissenting vote.

It will be up to the Borough Assembly to decide whether to accept the Board of Ethics’ recommendation regarding appropriate punishment for the conflict of interest violation.

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