Owasso city councilor wants council to adopt code of ethics and conduct
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 4:40 AM
OWASSO - A freshman city councilor wants the municipality's five-member council to consider adopting a code of ethics and conduct.
Jeri Moberly, elected in March to the Ward I seat, is behind the measure, which is scheduled to be discussed Tuesday at a special meeting of the council.
"As an insurance agent, I work under a code of ethics and I think most people do," she said in a telephone interview. "Sometimes, when things are printed or said, it just brings up that we don't have any guidelines on that."
The preliminary five-page proposal was compiled with the help of city attorney Julie Lombardi, Moberly said. It addresses 17 subjects, including political advocacy, respect for process, impartiality and integrity and accuracy.
"The goal was to be as simple and clear as possible but to also deal with issues that were more relevant to Owasso," Moberly said.
The "conduct" portion of the code asks councils to "refrain from exhibiting abusive conduct, personal allegations or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of the city council."
Moberly said councilors' decorum is important.
"Also, how we speak about people, not topics or items but people," she said. "That's been an issue that many citizens have talked about."
Included in the proposed code is a section that prohibits the use of electronic devices, except for emergency communications.
"We're elected, and we run for these offices because we want to," Moberly said. "I think the citizens expect us to give 100 percent of our attention to the (city council) meeting. If we can't do that due to work, then I really think that maybe it's not a good idea to be a city councilor. That's a commitment."
Moberly, too, notes in the code the value of disseminating facts.
"When city councilors are passing along information to others, they need to make sure that what they are passing on is accurate and not inaccurate to the point to stir something up," she said. "We should be passing on correct information to our citizens, and most of the time we have that ability."
If approved, the code of ethics would be included in orientation training for newly elected councilors. All councilors would be required to sign a statement affirming that they have read and understand the document.
"Unfortunately, I don't think you can put any teeth in a code of ethics for volunteers, which is what we have here," Moberly said. "It offers guidelines.
"...If all of the councilors agree to this, then it becomes peer-enforcing. There isn't really teeth to it, but we have all said that we would abide by this and have given our words."
Original Print Headline: Owasso councilor seeks code of ethics
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395