I made an Open Records Request for a document that sets forth a Code of Ethics & Conduct for the McKinney City Council and all Boards & Committees. I received a very legalistic document that appears to apply to everyone except the City Council. I recall there was an attempt to create something meaningful with some teeth in the last couple of years. It started out with a councilmember taking a stab at one. I haven’t watched the video lately from back then, but it seemed like most on the Council saw no need for one. I believe it was left with the Mayor and then Mayor Pro-Tem to follow up with, which I think was code for “wooden stake and mallet time.” I haven’t heard this subject mentioned since then unless I just missed it.
I would like to suggest one that would be solid and with the mandate from the McKinney Citizens by amending the Charter emphasize the importance and the high expectations. There are many of these from other cities on the Web, which eliminates the necessity of starting from scratch. This one was written to make it sound and feel personal as if genuinely embraced by each Councilmember. There was even a pledge form required to make it an annual and ongoing covenant between the Council and the Citizens. I excluded that part. I also added a few of my own words and phrases as you might expect me to if you follow my blogs.
Since we have the possibility of almost a brand new Council by the 2017 elections, I suggest our current City Council move immediately to make this happen. It is a no-brainer. It could be passed now and left for Citizen endorsement and enforcement at the 2017 ballot box. I cannot imagine an argument for not taking this important step. LFM
THE CITY OF McKinney
CODE OF ETHICS AND CONDUCT
The people of the City of McKinney, at an election held on _________________, approved an amendment to the City Charter of the City of McKinney which states: “The City of McKinney shall adopt a Code of Ethics and Conduct for elected officials and members of appointed boards, commissions, and committees to assure public confidence in the integrity of local government elected and appointed officials.” Consistent with the vote of the people, the following Code of Ethics and Conduct is hereby adopted by the City of McKinney to ensure effective and fair operation of the local government of the City of McKinney.
It is the intent of this code to achieve fair, ethical, and accountable local government for the City of McKinney. The people of McKinney expect public officials, both elected and appointed, to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the laws of the State of Texas, the United States of America, and the Charter, Municipal Code, and established policies of the City of McKinney affecting the operations of local government. In addition, public officials are expected to comply with the provisions of this Code of Ethics and Conduct established pursuant to the expressed will of the people. All persons covered by this code will aspire to meet the highest ethical standards in the conduct of their responsibility as an elected or appointed official of the City of McKinney.
This code addresses various aspects related to the governance of the City of McKinney and supplements, but does not supplant other laws and rules that prescribe the legal responsibilities of City officials. These include, but are not limited to, the Federal and State Constitutions, various provisions of the Texas Local Government Code and Other State Laws, and the City of McKinney Charter and Municipal Code. Elected and appointed officials are expected to be familiar with these laws to ensure that they exercise their public responsibilities in a proper fashion.
While it is not possible to anticipate and provide a rule of conduct and ethics for all situations that public officials may face, this Code of Ethics and Conduct is designed to provide a framework to guide public officials in their daily duties.
The provisions of this Code of Ethics and Conduct shall apply to the Mayor and members of the City Council, and to all members of the Boards, Commissions, and Committees appointed by the Mayor and City Council, including any ad hoc committees. Further, the provisions of this Code of Ethics and Conduct shall only apply to these officials and members acting in their official capacities and in the discharge of their duties.
III. CORE VALUES
Attitudes, words, and actions should demonstrate, support, and reflect the following qualities and characteristics for the well-being of our community. The five core values and expressions that reflect these core values are as follows:
- I am honest with my fellow elected officials, the public and others.
- I do not promise what I believe to be unrealistic.
- I am prepared to make unpopular decisions when my sense of the public’s best interests requires it.
- I credit others’ contributions to moving our community’s interests forward.
- I do not knowingly use false or inaccurate information to support my position or views.
- I safeguard the ability to make independent, objective, fair and impartial judgments by scrupulously avoiding financial and social relationships and transactions that may compromise, or give the appearance of compromising, objectivity, independence, and honesty.
RESPONSIBILITY/PROTECTING THE PUBLIC’S INTERESTS
- I do not accept gifts, services or other special considerations because of my public position.
- I excuse myself from participating in decisions when my or my immediate family’s financial interests may be affected by my agency’s actions.
- I do not give special treatment or consideration to any individual or group beyond that available to any other individual.
- I refrain from disclosing confidential information concerning litigation, personnel, property, or other affairs of the City, without proper legal authority, nor use such information to advance my financial or other personal interests.
- I promote meaningful public involvement in the agency’s decision-making processes.
- I treat all persons, claims and transactions in a fair and equitable manner; I make decisions based on the merits of the issue.
- If I receive substantive information that is relevant to a matter under consideration from sources outside the public decision-making process, I publicly share it with my fellow governing board members and staff.
- I work to contribute to a strong organization that exemplifies transparency and open communication.
- I will not meet privately with any kind of special interests seeking favor from the City unless those meetings are held in City facilities in offices and conference rooms designated by the City.
- I will not meet directly or indirectly with any form of Walking Quorum to discuss or solicit the direction of decisions being formed by other members of the City Council or any Board or Commission.
- I will encourage as much discussion as possible to be conducted by special interests in the public forums that allow all parties, including the public to better understand the need, purpose, rationale and technical information surrounding a potential City action.
RESPECT FOR FELLOW ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICIALS, STAFF, AND THE PUBLIC
- I treat my fellow officials, staff and the public with patience, courtesy and civility, even when we disagree on what is best for the community.
- I work towards consensus building and gain value from diverse opinions.
- I understand and support and pledge to adhere by the Council-Manager form of government as required by City Charter. I respect the distinction between the role of office holder and staff;
- I involve staff in meetings with individuals, those with business before the agency, officials from other agencies and legislators to ensure proper staff support and to keep staff informed.
- I conduct myself in a courteous and respectful manner at all times during the performance of my official City duties.
- I encourage full participation of all persons and groups; I am aware and observe important celebrations and events which reflect the values of our diverse population.
PROPER AND EFFICIENT USE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES
- I do not use public resources, such as agency staff time, equipment, supplies or facilities, for private gain or personal purposes. This includes taking up valuable staff time for special questions that I can send in writing and ask that they be answered during designated Council briefing opportunities.
- I make decisions after prudent consideration of their financial impact, taking into account the long-term financial needs of the agency, especially its financial stability.
- I demonstrate concern for the proper use of agency assets (such as personnel, time, property, equipment, funds) and follow established procedures.
- I am a prudent steward of public resources and actively consider the impact of my decisions on the financial and social stability of the City and its residents.
IV. IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
City of McKinney elected and appointed officials of the various boards, commissions and committees have the primary responsibility to assure that ethical standards are understood and met, and that the public can continue to have full confidence in the integrity of government. This Code of Ethics and Conduct will be most effective when the elected and appointed officials are thoroughly familiar with it and embrace its provisions.
Upon adoption of this Code, all current elected or appointed officials shall be given a copy of the Code and asked to affirm in writing that they have received the code, understand its provisions, and pledge to conduct themselves by the code. All new members of the City Council, upon election or reelection, and members of Boards, Commissions, and Committees appointed by the City Council, upon appointment or reappointment, shall be given a copy of the Code and are required to affirm in writing they have received the code and understand its provisions, and pledge to conduct themselves by the code.
Additionally, all members of the City Council, boards, commissions, and committees, as part of their annual orientation and training, shall be provided additional training clarifying the provisions and application of this code. The City Attorney, or his/her designee, shall serve as a resource person to those persons covered by the code to assist them in determination of appropriate actions consistent with the code.
A periodic review of the code shall be conducted to ensure that the Code is an effective and vital document.
This Code of Ethics and Conduct is intended to be a reflection of the community’s values as articulated by the Mayor and City Council as they represent the will of the people of the City of McKinney.