Kudos to Trustee Jim Goring: New SD40 Conflict of Interest Policy

The New Westminster school district now has a conflict of interest policy of sorts.



Kudos to Jim Goring and the other Voice school board trustees for pursuing this issue in the face of resistance from other board members.



Although the new policy isn’t as explicit or clear cut as the policy proposed by Trustee Jim Goring at the November 9th board meeting, it does address the fiduciary responsibility of trustees and senior staff and allows the district superintendent, secretary-treasurer and trustees to point out when a trustee is in a potential conflict of interest.



However, it remains to be seen how the policy withstands the acid test of application.

As background to his notice of motion, Jim Goring stated that “a clear [conflict of interest] policy that includes accountability is imperative so that the public can see that the business of the School Board is transacted free of conflict of interest.”



As a point of interest we’ve provided the text of Jim Goring’s original Notice of Motion below.



Niki Hope also had an article on the subject in the Record.



Again, kudos to Jim Goring and the other Voice school board trustees for pursuing this issue and it will be interesting to see how the new policy withstands the acid test of application.



Submitted by: Jim Goring



SUBJECT: Notice of Motion re: Conflict of Interest



For consideration at the November 9, 2010 Open Board meeting



Background:



The British Columbia Trustee Association recommends that school districts develop Conflict of Interest policy and procedures. SD 40 New Westminster has a motion duly passed to develop such a policy, however, this has not yet been done. A clear policy that includes accountability is imperative so that the public can see that the business of the School Board is transacted free of conflict of interest. The School Board is currently involved in the very important process of contract negotiations with one of its employee groups.



Motion:



THAT the motion passed December 15, 2009 to develop a Conflict of Interest policy be acted upon immediately with a policy developed by November 18, 2010 for consideration at the November 23, 2010 Open Board meeting.



AND FURTHERMORE THAT the policy address apparent and perceived conflict of interest.



AND FURTHERMORE THAT the policy include guidance on the direct and indirect pecuniary interest of a Trustee which at a minimum would include a Trustee:


1. who has parents or children (including financially independent adult children) who are employed by SD 40;

2. who has received election campaign funding or an endorsement from an entity with a pecuniary interest in the matter;

3. who is a shareholder in or a director or senior officer or has a controlling interest in or is a director or senior officer of a corporation that offers its securities to the public, and the corporation has a pecuniary interest in the matter or;

4. who is a partner of a person, is a member of a firm or is in the employment of a person or firm or entity that has a pecuniary interest in the matter.



AND FURTHERMORE THAT the policy shall include guidance on the pecuniary interest of a Trustee in a collective agreement.



AND FURTHERMORE THAT until the policy is developed Trustees shall consider, at a minimum, the following guidelines prior to participating in contract negotiations or discussions on contract negotiations.



Trustees may have direct or indirect pecuniary interests in collective agreements (i.e. those that are negotiated or ratified by SD#40 or BCPSEA) in a number of ways, including:


a) Trustees who are employed by a school district under the collective agreement, or whose spouses are so employed;

b) Trustees who have parents or children (including financially independent adult children) who are employed by a school district under a collective agreement;

c) Trustees who are officers of or employed by trade unions that are parties to a collective agreements because they represent school district employees.

d) Trustees who may have received significant campaign contributions or endorsements from any parties to a collective agreement.

11 thoughts on “Kudos to Trustee Jim Goring: New SD40 Conflict of Interest Policy

  1. The School act is clear, it was ignored. A policy also will be ignored.
    Bring on the Auditor General.
    Bring all of this to light!!!

  2. AND FURTHERMORE THAT the policy address apparent and ++perceived++ conflict of interest.

    A lot of that floating around these days !

  3. This policy would be fascinating if applied at city hall. The mayor received $5,000 from Aragon developments for his campaign, and later repeatedly brought forward the company’s request for a height variance despite council voting it down three times. Some would say the situation forced the company to sweeten its offer to the city, and that the mayor was simply supporting what he saw as an improved project. But the perception—which is what conflict policy often deals with—is always important to consider. It’s about public faith in the process. My two bits.

  4. To Chris,

    The city has a code of conduct, which includes Conflicts of Interest, nepotism, Outside employment, Gifts favours and Service, business lunches seminars and social functions, personal supplies, telephone and fax’s, disclosure of property ownership or Organization, City property and information, Affidavits and legal opinions, Workplace behavior, and finally – Criminal implication.

    Anyone want a copy ?

  5. To anonymous,
    Nepotism policy at the City?
    Heck, if there was a policy like that at the School Board, 1/3 of the employees would not be there.
    Look at the Asbestosgate. Ten young men affected by the release of the asbestos. Because of the incident, their names come to light. All children, and their friends, of Trustees, management and employees.
    Look at some Trustees, half of their family works there.
    Nepotism, it’s a way of life at SD 40, at least it used to be.

  6. To anonymous:
    A confession—I covered city hall in Richmond for four years before coming to New West and in both cities I was never aware there was a document that provided clear guidance for council members on issues such as conflict and gifts with such clarity. If you’ve got it in electronic format, yes please send one to me (editor@newwestnewsleader.com).
    I appreciate your help!

  7. Well well well, the worm is starting to turn.
    I read the letter in the Record over the week-end. What contempt shown by a trustee for the public.
    1. She works for CUPE
    2. Her entire campaign was paid for by various CUPE locals.
    3. The School Board is negotiating and she has not removed herself?
    Unbelievable!!!!
    She states that she is tired of reading newspapers that say she is in a conflict?
    Well Duhhhhhh!!!
    That’s because she is in a conflict.

  8. To Chris,
    As an editor in the media, you of all people should know how to acquire such documents. I suggest you contact the LSD and make a FoI request yourself. The experience will be educational, and cost you 1.75 for reproduction costs. Your welcome for the help.

    The COC policy is for CNW employees and not necessarily for elected officials who act in the interests of the public.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/56484718@N02/5220551488/

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