Code of ethics proposed for Victoria City Council
Dec. 30, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.
DECORUMCouncil Member Gabriel Soliz would like the city council to adopt a code of ethics.
It would be designed to govern how the council acts toward the public and other council members.
Soliz said he believes the council's image has been tarnished by recent incidents in which the public and council members were not shown property respect.
At least one member of the Victoria City Council said he thinks it's time that body of elected officials show decorum when conducting the public's business.
Council Member Gabriel Soliz has proposed the council adopt a code of ethics to govern how it operates.
"It's not very complicated," he said. "Basically, it's just no cussing, no back talking, no raising voices to people who are coming up to the podium."
Soliz said his proposal was prompted by recent incidents during council meetings where the public and members of the council were not shown proper respect. That has tarnished the image of the council in the public's eye, he said.
Soliz was schedule to meet with Deputy City Manager Charmelle Garrett this week to discuss the details of his plan.
Linda Champion with the city attorney's office said council members can get an item on the agenda for a vote by asking and providing the information in time for it to be legally posted.
Council Member Denise Rangel said she's not necessarily opposed to a code of ethics, but Soliz did not elaborate on it when he first brought it up.
"So, I don't know what that meant," she said. "When you're talking about a code of conduct, you could be talking about a lot of things."
Rangel said as a social worker, she is bound by a strong code of ethics, and she believes that's a good thing. She said she even has to take an ethics class every year.
Mayor Will Armstrong said he's also not sure what Soliz is asking for.
"I think he needs to define his thoughts before we spend staff time and council time on the subject of a code of ethics," he said. "He needs to get a consensus from the (members of the) council that they want to go forward."
Armstrong said the request is not on any future council agendas.
Soliz said he would like to see the council vote on the proposal rather than conduct a consensus poll where not everyone has to weigh in. He said that way the public knows how each member stands.
"I don't want to waste anyone's time," he said. "If it's something the rest of the council is uncomfortable with, so be it."
Council Member Joe Truman said he thinks the council already operates under a code of ethics.
"I feel the voters hold us up to a code of ethics every election," he said. "I'm not sure what we need to codify."
He said he encourages residents to communicate with their elected representatives both at the council meetings and by contacting them in person or on the telephone. Truman said better communications between council members and with the public resolves problems.