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ACCOUNTABILITY: CODE OF CONDUCT

posted Jun 12, 2015, 7:37 AM by Nick Camlin   [ updated Jun 12, 2015, 7:47 AM ]
This month, the Human Resources Committee will recommend to the County Board adoption of a new policy for County Board members and the new Administrator to make sure that those in the highest levels of our County Government are doing their job in an ethical way.

The new policy, 100-5 County Board and County Administrator Code of Conduct, will help move our County forward and display to the public our renewed commitment to ethics and professionalism.

The Human Resources Committee and I hope that the County Board will adopt these new standards of integrity because our residents deserve ethical and accountable County Government.

Below is a draft of the policy that will be called for a vote on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. If adopted, it will take effect immediately. 



DRAFT

Policy: 100-5 County Board and County Administrator Code of Conduct
Scope: County Board members and County Administrator
Purpose: The residents and businesses of Rock Island County are entitled to have an ethical and accountable county government which is committed to integrity and providing efficient and effective professional services.

Section 1: Overview 

The County Board is ultimately responsible (both individually and as a body) to its citizens for the effective operation of county government services. The development of this policy is designed to ensure effective and efficient governance of county services. 

The County Administrator is responsible for professionally carrying out the directives of the County Board while ensuring the efficient and effective operation of county services. 

By adopting this policy, the County Board acknowledges its responsibility to each other, to the professional staff, and to the public. 

Section 2: County Board Code of Conduct 

a. Conduct of Members: 

1. Recognizing that stewardship of the public interest must be a primary concern, members of the Rock Island County Board will work for the common good of the people of Rock Island County and not for any personal or private interest. Members will ensure fair and equal treatment of all persons. 

2. The professional and personal conduct of members must be above reproach and must avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Members shall not use their position on the County Board to obtain special favors for personal gain nor shall they use their professional position to influence a decision in which they have a personal financial interest. 

3. Members shall refrain from verbal attacks or abusive conduct toward other Board members, members of staff, or the public. 

4. When an issue is up for consideration or discussion at a public meeting, County Board members shall avoid intentionally delaying release of information to the governing body, but rather shall give all relevant information on the subject for consideration to the County Administrator ahead of the meeting so that the County Administrator can properly analyze the issue. 

5. Members shall respect the confidential nature of County information and shall not disclose confidential information to unauthorized personnel. 

6. With regard to County employees, individual members shall not: 

i. Become involved in hiring decisions for any County position except for the County Administrator position (except as a personal reference just like anyone else). 

ii. Become involved in union collective bargaining agreement negotiations (this is a job for professional staff with the Board’s role to approve or deny the agreement once it is complete). 

iii. Direct, order, or otherwise attempt to influence the work of a County employee (other than inquiries that can be answered routinely and without research). County Staff work under the direction of the County Administrator or an Elected Department Head and individual Board members have no authority to direct the work of these officials. When a Board member attempts to direct the work of a County employee, it can quickly create a situation that undermines the professional efforts of the County Administrator or Elected Department Heads. Other than routine questions, County Board members should direct questions or concerns to the County Administrator or the appropriate Elected Department Head. 

b. Implementation and Enforcement – As an expression of the standards of conduct for members, this Code of Conduct is intended to be self-enforcing. Complaints about possible violations of this policy should be reported to the Board Chairperson or if necessary, the State’s Attorney. Ideally, the Board Chairperson will talk with the Board member and encourage future compliance with this policy. Other options include the full Board discussing the matter at a public meeting and possibly reprimanding or censuring the individual Board member. The intent of course is to gain voluntarily compliance with all individual Board members complying with this policy while working toward the common good of professional governance/management. 


Section 3: County Administrator Code of Conduct 

The County Administrator shall adhere to the International City & County Management Association Code of Conduct. This code states: 

1. Be dedicated to the concepts of effective and democratic local government by responsible elected officials and believe that professional general management is essential to the achievement of this objective; 

2. Affirm the dignity and worth of the services rendered by government and maintain a constructive, creative, and practical attitude toward local government affairs and a deep sense of social responsibility as a trusted public servant; 

3. Be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity in all public and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the respect and confidence of the elected officials, of other officials and employees, and of the public; 

4. Recognize that the chief function of local government at all times is to serve the best interests of all people; 

5. Submit policy proposals to elected officials; provide them with facts and advice on matters of policy as a basis for making decisions and setting community goals; and uphold and implement local government policies adopted by elected officials; 

6. Recognize that elected representatives of the people are entitled to the credit for the establishment of local government policies; responsibility for policy execution rests with the members; 

7. Refrain from all political activities which undermine public confidence in professional administrators. Refrain from participation in the election of members of the employing legislative body; 

8. Make it a duty to continually improve the member’s professional ability and to develop the competence of associates in the use of management techniques; 

9. Keep the community informed on local government affairs; encourage communication between citizens and all local government officers; emphasize friendly and courteous service to the public; and seek to improve the quality and image of public service; 

10. Resist any encroachment on professional responsibilities; believing the member should be free to carry out official policies without interference, and handle each problem without discrimination on the basis of principle and justice; 

11. Handle all matters of personnel on the basis of merit so that fairness and impartiality govern a member’s decisions pertaining to appointments, pay adjustments, promotions, and discipline; 

12. Public office is a public trust. A member shall not leverage his or her position for personal gain or benefit.