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Council Gives OK to New Ethics, Removal From Office Language

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

Casper City Council on Tuesday decided to proceed with municipal code revisions that would make it easier to remove an elected council member found guilty of ethics violations.

Under the proposed code, council would need a two-thirds majority to remove a council member following a hearing in front of an independent officer. Council would also be allowed to remove non-elected advisory board members found guilty of ethics violations with a simple majority vote.

Council informally voted 5-3 to move forward with the code revisions. One of the dissenting votes, however, came from Ward II’s Craig Hedquist.

“Even though they have a due process component which, I think, is very important and was not used in the previous escapade, that still puts the onus on the councilperson to hire legal representation while the city uses taxpayer dollars,” Hedquist said.

Last year, Hedquist was accused of ethics and conduct violations and, in May, was formally asked by council to resign. Hedquist, though, refused to step down.

“It makes it, at least, potentially easier for staff and the majority of the council to force somebody out if they don’t agree with each other,” Hedquist said.

Casper mayor Paul Meyer disagrees.

“I don’t believe it gives council a blanket purchase order to take people out of office indiscriminately, but there (must) be ramifications of bad actions on the part of elected officials,” Meyer said.

Meyer also said, unless found guilty of ethics violations in the future, the amended rules cannot be used to attempt to remove Hedquist from office again.

Meyer says council will formally vote on the new code at its next regular session.

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