ATLANTIC CITY — State and city officials announced Wednesday that nearly all of the resort’s 900 public employees completed mandatory local government ethics training, a feat not seen in at least a quarter century.
The two-hour training course included elected officials, police officers and firefighters, according to the state Department of Community Affairs and the city. The DCA has fiscal oversight of the city following the 2016 Municipal Recovery and Stabilization Act.
“Important decisions are made by city employees on behalf of the residents they serve every day, and they deserve a workforce that is informed of the law and has their best interest in mind,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also serves as DCA commissioner. “The major lesson imparted in the ethics training Atlantic City employees received is that good government starts with each of them. As public servants, they are the guardians of the public trust and should treat that responsibility with the utmost reverence.”
In September, the state released its transition report, co-authored by Special Counsel Jim Johnson, who was handpicked by Gov. Phil Murphy to outline a path toward local sovereignty when the MRSA expires in 2021. Johnson’s report recommended the DCA and the city “develop an ethics training and enforcement program to make it clear that no city employee, including an elected official, may use their official position to benefit privately or to gain special favors that they wouldn’t otherwise get if they weren’t a city official.”
“The City of Atlantic City will always try to offer its employees additional training,” said Mayor Frank M. Gilliam Jr. “Ethics is the first training piece that we have implemented. Additional training pieces will be rolled out as we progress through 2019 and into 2020. My administration feels that our employees are worth investing in.”
According to DCA, the ethics training “covered the local government ethics law in New Jersey, the local government ethics administrative code, the criminal code related to government ethics, financial disclosure statements and real-life examples. The training also addressed Atlantic City’s history of elected officials and city employees who have been criminally prosecuted for corruption.”
“We want people who work for Atlantic City to do their jobs honorably and with integrity,” said City Council President Marty Small Sr. “The ethics training that city employees received will help us achieve this goal.”
The training took place at City Hall on Jan. 28, Feb. 4 and Feb. 5. The city is scheduling makeup training for those who were unable to attend the initial sessions.
The training was provided through the Local Assistance Bureau of the DCA’s Division of Local Government Services and conducted by Edward Sasdelli, a former state monitor for the city, a former municipal business administrator for 20 years and an adjunct professor for Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson universities.