City of San Antonio, Texas

 

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 92

October 12, 2004

Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

I.  Issue

 

May a city employee serve on the board of directors of

a homeowners’ association?

 

and

 

If so, may he represent that association in settlement

negotiations for a lawsuit?

 

 

I.  Factual Background

           

A city employee inquires whether the Ethics Code would preclude him from serving on the board of directors of his homeowners’ association.  He also asks that if he serves on this board, whether the code would prohibit him from representing the board’s interests during settlement negotiations in a lawsuit between the association and a non-city entity.

 

The employee stated that the director position is voluntary and unpaid. In addition, the employee will participate in association activities after his city duty hours or while on leave.  He further indicates that none of this work will require him to represent the interests of the association before the city.

           

 

II.  The Ethics Code

 

The association for which the employee intends to serve on its board of directors is a private organization with no apparent interaction with the city. The Ethics Code, therefore, would not preclude the employee from serving on this board or from representing this organization in settlement negotiations with the non-city entity.

 

As stated in this inquiry, the employee recognizes that he cannot use any city resource, including his duty time for the city, for his work with the homeowners’ association.   Ethics Code, Section 2-49.

 

Also, if a matter concerning the neighborhood association should come before the employee in his capacity as a city employee, he must recuse himself from that matter.  Ethics Code, Section 2-43 and Section 2-44.[1]

 

III. Conclusion

 

The Ethics Code would not prohibit the employee from serving on the board of his neighborhood association.  Further, the code would not preclude him from representing his board’s interests in settlement negotiations between the association and a non-city entity. 

 



[1]   Section 2-43(a)(8) of the City Code (Ethics Code) states:

General Rule. To avoid the appearance and risk of impropriety, a city official or employee shall not take any official action that he or she knows is likely to affect the economic interests of:

(8)  a business entity or nonprofit entity for which the city official or employee serves as an officer or director or in any other policy making position.

      Section 2-44 states:

General Rule. A city official or employee may not use his or her official position to unfairly advance or impede private interests, or to grant or secure, or attempt to grant or secure, for any person (including himself or herself) any form of special consideration, treatment, exemption, or advantage beyond that which is lawfully available to other persons.  A city official who represents to a person that he or she may provide an advantage to that person based on the official’s position on a board or commission violates this rule.