Ethics Commission Advisory Opinions
The Advisory Opinions contained on this page are unofficial and for information purposes only. A certified copy of any advisory opinion contained on this page may be requested from the ethics commission in writing to: Boise Ethics Commission, 150 North Capitol Blvd., Boise, Idaho 83702
A city official who is also a member of a professional organization related to his position with the City may seek sponsorship funding for a conference of the professional organization from entities with whom the City does business where there is no pecuniary gain by the official. The City official should, however, clarify in writing that the solicitation is being made on behalf of the professional organization and not on behalf of the City.
Parks and Recreation employees may not be employed for pay during non-work hours by a third party (running irrigation systems for testing by a third party engineer) where the work to be done is so closely tied to their normal job duties for the City that, but for their City employment, this employment opportunity with the third party would not have arisen.
The manager of the City’s Housing and Community Development division may serve on the Board of Directors of a non-profit community service organization where the employee will receive no pecuniary benefit and the organization does not seek financial assistance from the City.
A City employee may not accept a free event ticket worth $199 from a vendor with whom the City does business.
City employees may attend breakfasts and luncheons hosted by the City’s solid waste contractor as these events have a business purpose and the meals are valued at less than $50.
City employees may attend training on environmental regulations and technical issues presented by third parties, even where the party presenting the training either has an existing business relationship with the City or may have a business relationship in the future, since the training is presented at no cost and does not have a substantial risk of undermining impartiality.
The manager of the City’s Housing and Community Development division may serve as a Director of a non-profit mortgage banking consortium where the employee receives no pecuniary benefit for his service as a Director.
City employees may not conduct business with the City through an outside business venture that is owned by the employees (leasing a firearms range) where the employees have a direct pecuniary interest and the venture exceeds $50 in payments to the employees, making the interest more than de minimus.
A city employee may be compensated by a third party for “striping” fields on City property for athletic use where the “striping” is outside the normal scope of the employee’s duties with the city and is done not on city time or with city equipment.
City employees may accept discounts on personal computers from vendors with whom the city does business where the discount program is offered broadly to a large group, i.e., all governmental employees.
An individual employee may accept a complimentary e-learning course that is valued at less than $50 from an entity with whom the city does not do business.
Fire department employees may receive “thank you” gift certificates from citizens where the certificates are valued under $50.
Conference attendees may accept door prizes from organizer of conference, even if the value is above $50, and may also accept attendance “gifts” from the conference organizer as they are not really “gifts” but part of the Conference cost. Attendees should avoid accepting door prizes valued over $50 from conference vendors. City employees may receive free event tickets that are valued over $50 if the entity providing the ticket does not do business with the City and that there is no appearance of attempting to influence the employee(s).
City employees may not solicit or ask contract vendors or non-contract suppliers to provide products for City use.
City employees may accept door prizes from the United Way, even if the value is above $50 so long as the prize is not being used to undermine official impartiality.
Opinion 07-01 Boise City Police employee may not sell safety encrypted cards to the City of Boise where the employee receives a personal beneficial interest from the sale of the cards.
An employee may not subcontract with or serve as a temporary employee for an organization that has a business relationship with the City because such a relationship would create an apparent conflict of interest and a prohibited personal beneficial interest.
A part-time City employee may participate as an exhibitor at the City's Health Fair to promote her acupuncture services.
City employees may work for companies that perform similar work as they are employed to do for the City when paid as hourly, fixed wage employees and there is not a conflict of interest or violation of the fiduciary duties owed to the City.
City employee may work for Cableone broadcasting on television and radio when paid a fixed amount per broadcast, despite department's potential business relationship with Cableone.
Ridge to Rivers employee may start a private trail consulting business for areas outside the Ridge to Rivers operating area.
A member of the City's Ethics Commission may receive a monetary award for their community service/outreach from their employer.
City employee may serve as Interim Fire Chief despite a conflict of interest with a vendor. Conflict of interest was properly disclosed and employee was removed from all work-related responsibilities related to the vendor.
An employee may apply to rent a market value property owned by the City. The employee would be required to follow all application and screening requirements and to meet all leasing provisions, similar to any other person attempting to rent the property.
Public works employee who assists in bidding process and directs work of City contractors may be able to hire a City contractor to paint his personal home only if he discloses the issue to the Mayor. The Mayor shall determine whether the conflict is de minimus or requires reassignment of duties creating the conflict to another official in the same department.
City employees may attend the free Microsoft conference and partake in continental breakfast, however, they may not accept software programs or door prizes from the conference.
An employee may start a fiber splicing business where the employee's personal beneficial interest is remote and there is no conflict of interest for the employee.
A City Parks and Recreation employee may coach his son’s hockey teams but may not accept any sort of compensation for coaching.
A City Public Arts employee may apply for an unpaid fellowship, where the work would be on her own time and the City does not compete for grants with the organization or conduct similar research activities.
A City employee may not submit a bid for emergency vehicle up-fitting services for the City.
A City Information Technology employee may perform work for a fee on fellow City employees’ computers and peripherals.
City employee with an outside business should refrain from performing services for fellow City employees, who are either up or down in the City employee’s own chain of command, due to the potential for conflicts of interests and inferences of improper influences. Further, if outside work is being done for a City employee in the same department but not in the same chain of command, the relationship should be disclosed to a supervisor prior to any work being done.
Airport Commissioners, City employees and their family members may lease
T-hangars or commercial properties from the City, so long as they disclose the potential conflict of interest to the Airport Director and recuse themselves from any discussion concerning policies affecting the lease of T-hangars or commercial properties.
A City employee may seek bids and hire one of the contractors with whom he has contact with during the course of his employment when the employee does not recommend contractors as part of his employment nor will he receive any sort of discount.
A Public Works employee may serve as his Neighborhood Association's President and may request grant monies from the City on behalf of the Neighborhood Association so long as he does not serve on the selection committee which distributes the grants.
A Public Works employee may contact and hire asphalt vendors whose invoices he may review during the course of his employment to repair asphalt for his neighborhood's Homeowners' Association.
A City employee may state that he is the Director of Zoo Boise in his book's marketing materials so long as he does not use his City position as a primary marketing tool.
The City may not pay a City employee for producing Ridge to Rivers Ranger backpack covers as the employee would have a direct personal beneficial interest in a City expenditure.
A Fire Department employee should not have any direct involvement in the evaluative process during the firefighter test her boyfriend takes nor should she participate in any part of the firefighter testing process that may manipulate the testing score.
The City's Arts Department may purchase software the Arts Department Director's husband works for since the employee's personal interest is remote and therefore not a conflict of interest. The purchase of this particular piece of software further serves the best interest of the City and compliance with Boise City Code § 1-11-09 is waived by the Ethics Commission.
The City Engineer's son may work for an engineering firm that has active engineering projects with the City during a summer internship.
A City police officer who owns and operates an outside consulting firm may not contact a victim, whom he met while on an official call, to offer his consulting firm's services for a fee.
Public Works Commissioner's conflict of interest is obviated by the disclosure of the conflict and the recusal of the commissioner from discussions or decisions related to the conflict which come before the Commission.
While there is not a conflict of interest for a City employee to submit an art proposal, the personal beneficial interest the employee gains by being paid for the City’s art project proposal prohibits continuing City employment. Further, the employee may not volunteer his time to the City and be paid for the art proposal given the definition of “employee” in the Purchasing Code.
City employees may attend a product/technology presentation and partake in lunch provided by a GIS/GPS vendor.
The City’s Department of Arts and History may award grant funds to a local group of artists, which includes a City employee, so long as the City employee is not paid for his participation in the project.
A City employee may be hired by a lessee of City property to irrigate the City property and may pasture his animals and use the excess pasture grass.
A City employee may not attend a lighting class where travel and lodging would be paid for by a vendor with a City contract.
The City may negotiate and contract for any terms, however, the contracting for tickets to sporting events and the like has the potential to create an appearance of impropriety to the public. If unsolicited tickets are received, the Commission recommends that the City return the tickets with a request that the tickets be given to community members.
The City’s Parks and Recreation employees may accept free meals from contract vendors at the Willow Lane Athletic Complex while working.
A City Parks and Recreation employee may continue to work for Diamond Street Recycling even though the City has a contract with the company. While there is an indirect personal beneficial interest, the Ethics Commission waives compliance under facts presented in this case.
City Parks and Recreation plan that allows for Recreation Specialists to teach individual and group skating lessons as well as detailing Recreation Specialists attendance and expenses at events and conferences both when attending on behalf of the City of Boise and when attending with no affiliation to their City employment is consistent with the City Code of Ethics.
Nothing in the City’s Code of Ethics or Purchasing Code would prohibit Bodybuilding.com from providing supplements to the fire and police departments; however, the decision whether to accept these supplements should be made by City administration.
A City employee may assist a private company, from which the City has already purchased a product and with which the City continues to have an ongoing maintenance contract with, by providing testimonials and information on the product, for which the City employee has no personal benefit and will receive nothing of value. The City will receive additional IT support from the private company in exchange but it is not a valuable gift.
City Plumbing Inspectors may attend foundry and building tours in another state paid for by a trade association that has no direct or indirect interest in business dealings of the City.
Web Site Legal Disclaimer
The City of Boise presents the information on this web site as a service to Internet users, including members of the general public. Use of this site does not constitute, in any manner, an attorney-client relationship between the City of Boise and the recipient. While the information on this site addresses legal issues, it is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for the particularized advice of your own counsel. People seeking specific legal advice or assistance should contact an attorney. The content of any Internet e-mail sent to the City of Boise or any of its attorneys will not create an attorney-client relationship and will not be treated as confidential. Transmittal of information from this site or any use of electronic mail is not intended to create or establish an attorney-client relationship between the City of Boise and any other party.This publication may include inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes and additions are periodically made to the information herein; these changes will be incorporated into new editions to this publication. Statements or expressions of opinion herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of the City of Boise.