Turnpike Nearing Ethics Policy For Employees

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Turnpike, criticized by a state watchdog for letting employees accept gifts from contractors, is nearing adoption of an ethics policy covering its workers.

The draft policy outlined Wednesday at a board meeting would prohibit employees, including executives and commission members, from accepting gifts valued at more than $10.

The ethics policy could be adopted as soon as Sept. 9.

The draft policy, written by lawyers hired by the turnpike, warns that even coffee and rolls at a casual meeting can look inappropriate if repeatedly provided by the same business or person.

Tim Greenwood, turnpike chairman, said nobody from the turnpike would attend a free dinner next month in a San Francisco restaurant as part of an annual convention.

Salomon Smith Barney, a firm that collected about $60,000 in underwriting fees in a $100 million bond sale for the turnpike last year, is the sponsor of the dinner.

While turnpike executives will probably attend the convention as part of a national search for a new director, accepting free dinners would violate a no-gifts order issued earlier this month, Greenwood said.

Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles had found that at least 30 turnpike officials accepted a total of 170 gifts from contractors.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)