Turnpike Sending Policy Draft To Ohio Ethics Commission

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Turnpike Commission said Monday it is sending a draft of its ethics policy to the Ohio Ethics Commission for review.

The policy could be approved at the turnpike commission's meeting in October.

Jack Marchbanks, the turnpike commission's interim executive director, said the draft policy is "very rigorous."

"The policy goes beyond some of the standard boilerplate some other public bodies comply with," he said.

The draft policy would prohibit employees, including executives and commission members, from accepting one-time gifts valued at more than $10 or several gifts that total more than $25 per year from the same source.

It calls for avoiding "the appearance of impropriety, favoritism or bias" and sets guidelines for businesses seeking contracts with the 241-mile toll road.

Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles recently found that at least 30 turnpike officials accepted gifts from contractors.

Gino Zomparelli, the turnpike's former executive director, resigned Aug. 8, amid allegations that he took gifts from contractors.

The commission Monday approved a resolution authorizing Marchbanks to get assistance from other state agencies. He said it is "surprising" that the turnpike's past administration had apparently not done so. He said he might ask the state Office of Budget and Management for help evaluating the turnpike's payroll, which is handled by an outside vendor.

He also said the turnpike could use "an internal investigations unit" to check complaints. He said he would ask other agencies for advice on how to set the unit up.

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