Timing is everything in life, and even more vital when you're dealing with a crisis. Near the end of February, Lehman Walker, the City Manager of University City, had a small crisis on his hands -- let's call it a peccadillo.
As we covered here
, Walker's professional conduct was being investigated by the International City/County Management Association; as an ICMA member, he was bound by the group's code of ethics, and charges had been filed against him that alleged he had violated that code.
The ICMA Executive Board met on February 25 to discuss the charges and the proper course of action. That board found that Walker had violated three tenets of the ethical code, and officially censured him and barred him from further membership in the group. These actions were announced in a press release sent to the Riverfront Times
on March 1. By violating the ICMA code, Walker had opened himself to being terminated with cause because of a clause in his contract (again, all available here
Of course, Walker had resigned from the group on February 17. That's pretty good timing, but slicker moves were in the offing. On February 21, someone on the University City Council made a motion to have City Attorney Paul Martin amend Walker's contract to remove all references to the ICMA. That motion passed on February 27, and the verbiage was removed -- a scant two days after the ICMA Executive Board had made its decision to censure Walker, and two days before the public and the press were notified of the decision. Below are the official moments from those two University City council meetings.
On February 21, 2012, on a motion to engage City Attorney Mr. Paul Martin to draft a contract that will amend current City Manager's contract to remove references to ICMA. The members of the Council present voted as follows:
Ayes: Ms. Ricci, Mr. Kraft, Mr. Glickert, Mr. Sharpe and Mayor Welsch
Nays: Mr. Crow
The motion passed
On February 27, 2012, on a motion to approve the Restated Contract between the City Manager and the City. The members of the Council present voted as follows:
Ayes: Ms. Ricci, Mr. Glickert, Mr. Sharpe and Mayor Welsch
Nays: Mr. Crow and Mr. Kraft
The motion passed.
Joyce Pumm, MRCC
So, here's a puzzler for all you armchair ethicists out there. If you resign from a professional organization before that group officially determines you have not comported yourself in the ethical manner the organization requires, and also re-jigger your contract to remove all references to your continued employment being dependent on your good standing with that group, aren't you making the same case against yourself that the professional group had already determined? In other words, can you elude a charge of unethical behavior by engaging in what some might term unethical behavior?