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City Attorneys Take Ethics Training


Aired 4/19/09

Photo: City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Alison St John/KPBS .

USD’s School of Law will hold a full day of Ethics Training on Saturday for employees in the San Diego city attorney’s office. KPBS reporter Alison St John explains.

Former city attorney Mike Aguirre believed his fiduciary duty was to the residents of the city who elected him, rather than to officials at city hall.

New city attorney, Jan Goldsmith , says he represents the interests of the city as an institution, rather than the officials. But he’s asked USD to put together a training course, open to employees and the public. 

Goldsmith : "I think there’s been some confusion regarding not only the role of the city attorney, but also the obligations - what a municipal lawyer  may or may not do. I feel we need some very clear parameters of our role. I will be learning a lot, I am there to learn."

The course includes case studies posing ethical dilemmas the office might well face. 

Goldsmith : " For example: the mayor wants to borrow money, but the city council won't vote to sign off on the loan documents, though when spoken to individually, they are all willing to go ahead.  What’s a city attorney to do?"

Goldsmith wants the seminar videotaped. He says he’ll require all his staff to watch it.

Alison St John, KPBS News.

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