The city of Delaware’s boards, commissions and committee volunteer members now know City Council’s expectations of their conduct in public.
Council approved its Code of Conduct for Appointed Members with amendments on the second reading Monday after the current chairman and chairwoman of the city’s boards provided positive feedback for the policy.
Council asked for a policy after removing a board member in January for his conduct on social media toward Councilwoman Lisa Keller, who was absent from Monday’s meeting.
The document contains three sections that include six standards members must follow, a discipline process for non-compliance and the distribution of the policy.
The discipline process would allow the mayor to issue counseling, verbal reprimands and written warnings for members who fail to comply with the standards. Further discipline could involve a Member Conduct Committee comprised of a citizen member from the Planning Commission, Airport Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The city attorney would serve as the chairman of the meeting, but not have a vote. The charged member would be allowed to bring legal counsel, provide a statement and present evidence or testimony in his or her favor.
One of the amendments would allow the mayor to temporarily suspend a member from the appointment, while the MCC reviews the alleged misconduct. Council may adopt, amend or reject the committee’s recommendation.
The standards are the following:
• Conduct of Members: The professional and personal conduct of members while exercising their office must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. 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.
• Respect for Process: Members shall perform their duties in accordance with the processes and rules of order established by the city Council.
• Conduct at Public Meetings: Members shall prepare themselves for public issues; listen courteously and attentively to all public discussions before the body; and focus on the business at hand.
• Confidential Information: Members must maintain the confidentiality of all written materials and verbal information provided to members which is confidential or privileged. Members shall neither disclose confidential information without proper legal authorization, nor use such information to advance their personal, financial or other private interests.
• Positive Work Place Environment: Members shall support the maintenance of a positive and constructive work place environment for Members, city employees, and for citizens and businesses dealing with the city.
• Practice civility and decorum in discussions and debate: Difficult questions, tough challenges to a particular point of view, and criticism of ideas and information are legitimate elements of debate by a free democracy in action. Free debate does not require nor justify, however, public officials to make belligerent, personal, slanderous, threatening, abusive or disparaging comments.
Appointed members would be responsible to review the policy.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.