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Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners


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Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners
Curt Bellavance

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Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners

  1. 1. 2010 MAPD AnnualConference, Plymouth, MACurt Bellavance, AICPDirector of Economic and CommunityDevelopmentTown of North AndoverEVERYDAY ETHICS FORPRACTICING PLANNERS
  2. 2. I. Why Talk About Ethics?II. Ethics DefinedIII. Ethics CodesIV. AICP Code of EthicsV. Scenario DiscussionsVI. QuestionsVII. ResourcesToday’s Discussion
  3. 3. Goal of Today’s Session: Fulfill your 1.5CM ethics credit requirement! Help develop reasoning and reflection skills that can beapplied in every day situations (instead of memorizing a code).I. Why Talk About Ethics?
  4. 4. Source: Witty, David. 2002. CIP Professional Practice ManualWhat planners do as planners0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45%prepare policy 40%advise politicians 32%review development proposals 30%undertake research 27%advise senior staff 21%administer policy 20%facilitate community involvement 19%prepare bylaws and regulations 17%prepare development proposals 14%administer bylaws and regulations 13%conduct public involvement 13%support a jurisdictional body 6%teach 3%other 20%percent of respondentsWhy Talk About Ethics cont…
  5. 5. • Citizen expectations. Planners having the ability to elevategovernance, not fall to its more base level.• AICP planners must practice in accordance the AICP’s Code ofEthics and Professional Conduct.• Current code effective June 1, 2005. Codes in place forplanners since 1959 – long history and experience with ethics.• Planners guided by both existing local and sometimes state ethicsprovisions (State Ethics Commission).• When none exist, must exercise common sense (aspirationalprinciples).• Rarely “cut and dry” and often contain a high level of nuance.Why Talk About Ethics cont…
  6. 6. What is an Ethics Code?• Ethical codes address values and guiding principles,codes of conduct and behavior that is appropriateas well as prohibited.Why Have a Code?• To Enhance our Relationships by Creating a Mutually BeneficialEnvironment that is both Pleasant and Productive;• Define accepted or acceptable behaviors;• Promote high standards of practice;• Provide a benchmark for members to self evaluate;• Establish framework for professional behavior & responsibilities• The Code also aims at informing the public of the principles towhich professional planners are committed.II. Ethics Defined
  7. 7. What does it take to be ethical?
  8. 8. Respect for each other and for rulesResponsibility for one’s own behaviorResults by acting with integrityThe Three R’s of Ethics forPlanners
  9. 9. III. Ethics Codes & othersState ethics codeMA: Principles in Planning (adopted 1992)AICP Code of Ethics (2005)The American Institute of Certified Planners Code of Ethicsand Professional Conduct can be accessed at
  10. 10. A. Aspirational principlesB. Rules of conductC. “Procedures” for complaintadministrationWhen in conflict, the RULES rule!IV. AICP Code of Ethics
  11. 11. A. Principles to Which We Aspire• Responsibility to the Public• Responsibility to our Clients andEmployees• Responsibility to our Profession andColleagues
  12. 12. • Conflict of Interest• Confidentiality• Representation• Competency• Plagiarism• DisclosureB. Rules of Conduct
  13. 13. C. Our Code Procedures• Informal Advice• Formal Advice• Advisory Rulings• Administration of an Ethics Charge1. Role of the Ethics Officer2. Role of the Ethics Committee3. Investigations4. Hearings
  14. 14. • Letter or phone conversation with APA ExecutiveDirector (currently Paul Farmer, FAICP).• Because of issues of reliability and confidentiality,e-mail communication is NOT to be used.• PDOs encouraged to engage in conversationsabout the Code, but NOT authorized to giveguidance.
  15. 15. 11 Total Cases 9 Cases Resolved4 Cases Dismissed1 Charge Withdrawn2 Respondents Membership Lapsed2 Appealed Case Dismissals Upheld 2 Cases Pending1 Charge Under Review1 Complaint Under Review Ethics Committee ActionsUpheld Dismissals of 2 Appealed Cases Requests for Formal AdviceNo requestsSlow increase in complaints since inception in 2005
  16. 16. Scenario 1:Town planner Veronica Lodge is responsibility for codeenforcement. She owns a home in a PUD and notice that manyof her neighbors have erected fences that extend their backyardinto the shared greenway – claiming it as their own. How shouldVeronica handle this situation? Do conflicts arise between herrole as property owner, neighbor, and public servant?
  17. 17. Scenario 2:It’s the holiday season and your office is “bombarded” by“gifts” of appreciation in the form of food, pastries, wine andeven a Hickory Farms gift basket – with no implication offuture favors or special treatment.Can you enjoythese treasures?
  18. 18. Scenario 3:Two planners work together at a private firm for several yearsbefore both joining the planning department in a large city. Aftertwo years at the department, one of the planners returns to theprivate sector (for more money). How does this change thepersonal and professional relationship of the two planners?Does the scenario change ifthe planners are working ina city with a small, resource-strapped planningdepartment?
  19. 19. Scenario 4:Ronald Trump is the asst. directorof planning for Urbanville and isworking with PavOver Consultingon a redevelopment plan. Afterseveral weeks, based on thequality of Ron’s work, the head ofPavOver offers Ron a position atthe firm.Are there ethical considerationsthat would prevent Ron fromaccepting this position?
  20. 20. Scenario 5:BP Development, Inc. asks you, Town Planner Johnny Muir, tohelp them select the team of lawyers and architects that youwould recommend, since you are familiar with who is good inyour community. How do you respond?If you decide that giving advice on a team is not ethical, arethere other ways you can assist?
  21. 21. Scenario 6:The Town of Hartmann hiresGreene Consulting, LLC to doa comprehensive plan andrevise the zoning bylaw.About 1 year after the projectis complete, another partnerin Greene Consulting isretained by a developer toprocess a zone amendment.What disclosure is required?
  22. 22. Scenario 7:Robert Marley is the city planning director appointed by the mayor.The mayor owns a skybox at Fenway Park from his prior career.He invites Robert and his wife to a game. Should Robert accept ornot? Fenway is partially financed by the city.What if it’s BU skyboxseats and he offersRobert tickets?
  23. 23. Scenario 8:Is it unethical, as a regulatory planner, to socialize with yourpaid consultants as peers? They may buy drinks or dinner, butyou also sometime buy. Is the perception bad? Is there anyconflict?
  24. 24. Scenario 9:Nancy Peluzzi, retired director of city planning for Washington City,is offered a consulting position with NRA Planning. NRA’s first jobis to craft a response to an RFP on a project from Nancy’s oldoffice. Is there a conflict?
  25. 25. Scenario 10:You hire an open space consultant. The consulting firm’saccounting software is set up to charge a max. of 40 hrs/week.The project consistently takes the consultant 60 hours a week.Therefore, the consultant is basically donating (giving) your town20 hours per week of time on the project.Is this fully ethical? Does thisgive the consultant an advantagein the future over other in theselection process?
  26. 26. Some Common issues:Your agency has a dollar amount limitation for gifts - anythingunder $50 is acceptable???
  27. 27. Common issues cont…Through the course of your duties you form a friendshipwith a local landowner who periodically calls with questionsabout planning and zoning. He invites you to eat lunch andhe buys.Is this okay?
  28. 28. Common issues cont…The new Planning Director Jack Donaghy receives a floodof invitations to join groups outside of work such as theKiwanis Club, Toastmasters, Chamber of Commerce, etc.Is there a balance ofwork and leisure clubsthat does not violatethe code of ethics?
  29. 29. Common issues cont…“My boss toldme to do it”
  30. 30. Common issues cont…What is the responsibility of an AICP planner if he/she is awarethat a developer/applicant is meeting with planning board orcouncil members, but neither are disclosing it publicly?
  31. 31. VI. Questions
  32. 32. Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners. Carol D. Barrett,FAICP, 2001.The New Ethics. Anita Allen, 2004.MA State Ethics Code: Ethics Resources:• AICP Code of Ethics• Reports on Case Activity• Ethics Resources (Toolkit for Conducting Ethics Sessions)• Ethical Principles in Planning (Guide for all)VII. Resources