November 27, 2013

No revisions for now to staff Code of Ethics

As published in The Erin Advocate

A push by Mayor Lou Maieron to make the Town’s Employee Code of Ethics match the Council Code did not get any traction at the November 19 council meeting.

The mayor went “fishing” for seconder, but did not get one, for his motion to hire a consultant “to review and revise the Staff Code of Ethics to bring it into conformity, where applicable, to the Councillor Code of Ethics, and that the Staff Code of Ethics consider including a standard of public service component.”

Councillor John Brennan said he has a problem with that idea, since he is not aware of which differences between the Codes are at issue.

“Before we go spending any money to hire a consultant to come in and look at this thing, I would like to see what are the areas of concern,” he said. “Maybe it’s simple enough that we don’t need a consultant.”

“I just want to do a comparison,” said Maieron. “It’s much more onerous on the council ... I don’t think we should be held to a higher standard than the staff. There’s certain things that only belong to councillors, but the general policy should apply across the board.”

The mayor is currently the object of a July 4 complaint under the Council Code, the nature of which has not been made public. Normally, complaints are to be investigated and council given a report within 90 days. Integrity Commissioner John Craig had been granted a one-month extension of that deadline, to November 4, but as of November 15, no report had been received.

The Employee Code is a section of the Town Personnel Policy. Unlike councillors, staff can be fired for serious violations. The Code guards against conflicts of interest, ensures that personal and Town interests are kept separate, limits the value of hospitality gifts to $100, and prohibits the use of a position, Town property or confidential information for the benefit (or perceived benefit) of an employee or their family members.

Since a general review of the Personnel Policy is currently being done, councillors felt it was better to allow that process to be completed before discussing the Employee Code.