by K.J. Lincoln
The Bethel City Council voted to postpone action on Resolution 18-20, the Code of Conduct resolution for members of council during their December 11th, 2018 regular meeting. The issue was postponed to give council a chance to get legal advice before making any decisions on the resolution.
“I asked the city clerk to do some research as to whether or not we have anything in the Bethel Municipal Code, the BMC, as to whether or not there is a code of conduct for treating people with respect and dignity and found that there was nothing, nothing was in the BMC,” said council member Perry Barr who is sponsor or this resolution. “Then I did some research with other municipalities and found that just about every municipality within the State has a code of conduct for city council member or members of the assembly. So with that, I directed the city clerk to go forth and offer up a code of conduct resolution for members of the Bethel City Council and their interactions with their positive professionals, and interaction with members of the City of Bethel.”
As a member of council, Barr said that he has a fiduciary responsibility to the City.
“I have a fiduciary duty to protect the City and if we have a city employee that says harassment has gone too far and I want to hire an attorney and file a civil suit against the City – you know I foresee that happening and that is the reason why I’d like to introduce Resolution 18-20,” he said.
A motion to postpone the resolution was made by council member Leif Albertson.
“I hear about employees being threatened, and I hear about employees being humiliated, or belittled. I do think that is a liability to the City and I do think it makes it difficult for the City to function properly when we have that. I think that this code of conduct would bring us in line with any large organization of how we treat people with civility. I am supportive of that,” stated Albertson. “I don’t think that that erodes anyone’s ability to speak. I’m concerned about how our employees are treated I would like to hear more about the legal liabilities…I would like to make a motion to postpone this until such time as the attorney is able to provide information to answer some of the questions raised.”
City Attorney Patty Burley suggested that due to the nature of the debate and the statements that were made to have the insurance company or a neutral person give legal advice on this issue.
Council was okay with that and they voted 6-0 in favor of postponement.