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Council Member Wants Handbook On Behavior

POSTED February 2, 2011 12:04 a.m.

Because of some past public rifts between members of the city council, Oakdale City Council member Katherine Morgan is in the process of developing a policies and procedures handbook for the members.

Morgan would like to see a “Code of Conduct” outlining proper decorum and ethical behavior defined for the members of the five-person board.

“Just because something is not illegal, does not make it ethical,” said Morgan. “Our behavior should be beyond reproach.”

Morgan, who has served on the council since 2004, said she had recently attended an ethics course through the California Fair Political Practices Commission and felt the need to bring forward something in writing because of some recent events with the council. The commission regularly offers courses for public officials.

“The biggest issue that got me thinking was the removal of the confidential documents,” said Morgan, referring to fellow council member — and newly elected — Jason Howard taking some documents from city hall at a late 2010 meeting.

Ironically, Morgan is partnered up with Howard for the wording and development of the handbook.

She also pointed out that she felt some of the comments members made to one another during meetings bordered on disrespect and lacked common courtesy.

“We need to follow Roberts Rules of Order,” she said. “There’s been interruptions and improper decorum to name a few things.”

Morgan said the interactions between council members on the dais are the reason to incorporate how the council members address each other as part of the handbook. She said that during the closed session meetings, their interactions have not been controversial.

Morgan would also like to see repercussions or consequences for violations or unethical acts. In addition to ethical and behavior standards, Morgan is attempting to have procedural issues addressed in the manual such as how items are introduced to the agenda or the process for handling confidential issues.

“This (handbook) would help new members elected and be a resource to the current council,” she said.

Morgan said she plans on bringing some of the wording of the manual to the upcoming council meetings and eventually having the city attorney review it for propriety. Her goal is to have everything in place by the beginning of March.

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