Code would add ‘layer of guidance’ for board members

Would form discipline committee for non-compliance

By Brandon Klein -

Delaware City Council will consider Monday a code of conduct for officials appointed to boards and commissions, barely more than three months after it had removed a board member for his misconduct on social media.

The Code of Conduct for Appointed Officials will “add a layer of guidance regarding how appointed officials will conduct themselves and interact with colleagues,” according to a city fact sheet.

The one-and-a-quarter long document consists of two sections. The first one has two subsections, one highlighting the document’s purpose and the other listing seven standards for appointed officials to follow, which are: professional and personal conduct of members, respect for process, conduct at public meetings, confidential information, positive work place environment, practice civility and decorum in discussions and debate and avoiding personal comments that could offend others.

The second section would allow the Mayor to administer counseling, verbal reprimands and written warnings to members failing to comply. It would also form a “Member Conduct Committee” to review alleged inappropriate conduct.

The charged member would be allowed to bring legal counsel, provide a statement and present evidence and witness testimony. Council may adopt, amend or reject the committee’s recommendation.

The code will complement Council’s ethics policy, which applies to them, staff and appointed officials. The code was adapted from other cities’ policy.

Council members asked for a code of conduct for its appointed officials after it removed Lucas Ratliff from his at-large seat on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board at its Jan. 9 meeting. Council voted 5-0-2 to remove Ratliff with Vice Mayor Kent Shafer and Councilman Kyle Rohrer, 4th Ward, abstaining.

Ratliff was an opponent of the city’s income tax road levy, which didn’t passed in the general election last year. Prior to the 60 percent of voters casting ballots against the measure, he created a new Facebook account to gain access into the Better Roads for Delaware, the pro-levy political action committee’s page.

Better Roads had banned him for alleged personal attacks of Councilwoman Lisa Keller, 2nd Ward. Ratliff used the second account to “disseminate an unflattering picture” of Keller, according to the resolution that removed him from his position.

He told The Gazette at the time he believed the comment in question was not a personal attack and that the photo, publicly available from Keller’s Facebook account, was used as satirical way to voice his opposition to the levy and remarks Keller made at the time.

Keller had said she considered Ratliff a professional liability. Council members said removing Ratliff had nothing to do with his position on the levy.

There is no mention of social media in the proposed code but one standard requires that “members shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of Council, Boards, Committees and Commissions, the staff or public.”

In other business, Council will:

• Consider approval of updates to its tree preservation regulations. The changes would clarify the options developers have to replace trees including offering funds to the city’s tree bank fund. The changes would clarify the uses of the fund. The Building Industry Association of Central Ohio has voiced concerns about the entire chapter. Officials are expected to attend the meeting.

• Consider adopting an update to its 2010 bike plan. A public hearing is set for 7:15 p.m. Some residents oppose the Delaware Run trail.

Council will meet at City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St., 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Would form discipline committee for non-compliance

By Brandon Klein

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.