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Ethics Board to Nutter (and Inspector General): Get off our turf

The Board of Ethics is trying to keep its turf before the next mayor comes into office. Board members agreed Wednesday to send a letter to Mayor Nutter asking he amend an executive order he signed in October. That order expands the powers of the OIG's office and could create a conflict between the two agencies, ethics board staff said.

The Board of Ethics is trying to keep its turf before the next mayor comes into office.

At its Wednesday meeting, executive director Shane Creamer asked the ethics board send a letter to Mayor Nutter requesting the amendment of an executive order he signed in October.

Nutter's executive order expanded the powers of the city Office of the Inspector General, which has been in operation since a 1984 Executive Order by then-mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr.

In announcing the new order last year, Nutter said: "The new Executive Order better aligns the OIG's legal mandate with the array of new initiatives in which it has engaged and clarifies whistleblower protections."

But the Board of Ethics is taking issue with the broad description of what the Inspector General's office is expected to investigate, per the October order.

The list went from 16 specific categories such as "extortion attempts by City employees/officials" and "attempt to bribe City officials," to eight broader categories, one of which is simply "violations of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, The Philadelphia Code and other City ordinances."

The ethics board is currently charged with enforcing parts of the charter and code.

"The appearance of the jurisdictional overlap created by the executive order between the board and the OIG will, in our view, lead to duplication of effort and waste of limited resources, competing investigations with potentially conflicting results," Creamer told the board Wednesday.

Creamer said he met with administration officials in October to discuss the board's concerns. But since no action has been taken since then, he said, they are airing out the issue publicly.

Nutter's spokesman Mark McDonald said that Chief of Staff Everette Gillison, who met with Creamer in October, "has been reviewing the issues since then."

Gillison expects to have a decision on the matter in April, McDonald said. However, the administration's position is that there are many agencies that overlap when dealing with law enforcement.

"They all need to work together," McDonald said. "There is nothing inherently wrong with teh fact that there is an overlapping relationship."

All five ethics board members approved Wednesday that the ethics board draft a letter to send to Nutter.

Time is of the essence, Michael Reed, ethics board chairman, said.

"In light of the fact that we're going to have a new administration in 10 months, in my view, we have to do something on the record to express the concerns," Reed said.

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