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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Protecting the Public’s Interest: A Tutorial on Local Government Ethics and Transparency in New York State

Module 2 - Codes of Ethics and Other Local Actions

Required Posting of the Law and Applicable Common Law

The chief executive officer of every municipality is required to cause a copy of Sections 800-809 of the General Municipal Law to be posted in each of the municipality’s public buildings in a place conspicuous to its officers and employees. The posting requirement encompasses all of the provisions of Article 18 except those relating to annual financial disclosure and the former temporary state commission on local government ethics. Copies of Sections 800-809 suitable for posting are available upon request from the Office of the State Comptroller at localgov@osc.state.ny.us. Please include the name of the requesting municipality, the name and address to which they should be sent, and the number of posters needed.

We have focused primarily on Article 18 requirements but would be remiss not to mention that common law also is applicable.

The courts of this State have held public officials to a high standard of conduct and, on occasion, have negated certain actions that, although not constituting a literal violation of Article 18 of the GML or a municipality’s code of ethics, are inconsistent with public policy, or suggest self-interest, partiality, or economic impropriety. Based on these principles, it is important for municipal officers and employees to avoid even an appearance of impropriety. Therefore, even if a municipal officer or employee is called upon to take or participate in official action that would not violate Article 18 or the municipality’s code of ethics, he or she should consider whether there are circumstances present that would reasonably call into question his or her ability to act in public interest. If circumstances warrant, the municipal officer or employee should step aside and not participate in the matter.

Let’s listen to what Mark has to say about common law conflicts of interest.

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Text for Video: Common Law

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