[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Aberdeen 3-8-2010 by Ord. No. 10-O-04 (Ch. 4 of the 1990 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Ethics — See Ch. 43.
The purpose of this Code of Conduct ("code") is to define the role of elected officials in the governance of the City. This code consists of policies and implementing rules intended to advance the City's goals of providing efficient and high-quality services to its residents and providing a safe and productive work environment for its employees.
Aberdeen is a duly incorporated Maryland municipality and has its executive function shared by the Mayor and by the City Manager. The City Manager is charged with implementing the policies set by the City Council and is charged with administering the day-to-day affairs of the City with the assistance of his/her staff. This code establishes rules that contribute to the success of this basic structure and to maintaining positive and effective working relationships between officials and employees.
This code addresses selective aspects of the governance of the City and supplements but does not supplant other laws and rules that prescribe the legal responsibilities of City elected officials ("officials"). Those include, among others, the State of Maryland Constitution, various provisions of the Code of Maryland Administrative Regulations, federal laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, and the provisions of the City's own City Charter. Elected officials should be familiar with these laws to assure that they exercise their responsibilities properly.
It is not possible for a code of this kind to anticipate and provide a rule of conduct for all situations. It is expected that officials will manage their behavior in a manner consistent with the rules that follow, respect the chain of command and behave within the bounds of their authority. It is also expected that officials will treat each other, City employees, residents and businesspeople with courtesy and respect in a manner that reflects well on the City.
Policies governing the conduct of officials are listed in this section. Following each policy is a set of rules that give specific application to the policy. In italics following each rule is an explanation of the rule and guidance for interpreting and applying the rule.
Policy A. Officials shall deal with the administrative service solely through the Mayor and/or City Manager. Rules:
Officials shall not direct, order or make demands on any City employee, other than inquiries that can be answered routinely and without research. This subsection shall not apply to the Mayor.
Officials shall not attempt to reorganize an employee's priorities or influence the manner by which City staff performs their assigned functions or duties. This subsection shall not apply to the Mayor
Officials shall not retaliate or threaten to retaliate against employees as a result of disagreements over policy recommendations.
Officials shall not threaten a City employee with disciplinary action.
Policy B. Officials shall act collectively in a properly noticed and constituted meeting; officials have no authority to make decisions or take actions on behalf of the body unless expressly authorized to do so. Rules:
Officials shall not make representations or promises to any third party regarding the future actions of the City or of the body of which they are a member, unless the appropriate body has duly authorized such representation or promise. This subsection shall not apply to the Mayor.
When making public utterances, officials shall make it clear whether they are authorized to speak on behalf of the body of which they are a member or whether they are presenting their own views. This subsection shall not apply to the Mayor.
Officials shall not interfere with the manner by which the City Manager performs his or her duties. It is recognized that the Mayor directly supervises the City Manager.
Officials shall not interfere with the implementation by City staff of approved projects and programs.
Policy C. City resources shall be used solely for proper governmental purposes and only with proper authorization. Rules:
Policy D. When representing the City, officials shall conduct themselves in a dignified manner and in accordance with all legal requirements. Rules:
When representing the City on official business, officials shall behave responsibly and in a manner as to project a positive image for the City.
Officials shall exercise best efforts to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the performance of their official duties.
Decorum. While the Council is in session, the members must preserve order and decorum, and a member shall neither, by conversation or otherwise, delay or interrupt the proceedings or the peace of the Council nor disturb any member while speaking or refuse to obey the orders of the Council or its presiding officer.
The City is committed to maintaining a healthy, fulfilling and humane workplace. To that end, every official is expected to observe the foregoing policies and rules when engaged in City business.
Complaints alleging a violation of this Code of Conduct by an official shall be forwarded to the Chairperson of the City's Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission shall commence an investigation of the complaint. Upon the completion of the investigation, the Ethics Commission shall forward its findings of fact to the entire Council. The Council will act upon the findings of facts submitted to it by the Ethics Commission by motion and vote and shall prescribe any sanction that it feels applicable to the complaint. Only members not complained against may vote, and it shall only take a majority vote of the members not complained against to pass the recommendations.
Editor's Note: Amended 8-23-2010 by ORd. No. 10-O-12.
The goal of enforcement of this Code of Conduct is corrective, rather than penal, and a progressive approach to curing violations shall be employed when possible, beginning with less severe methods and proceeding to more severe methods as necessary.
The Mayor and City Council are not bound, however, to follow the progression of sanctions if they feel that the offense rises to the level where a more severe sanction should be administered.
The accused official(s) shall be given every opportunity to mount a public defense of the accusations against him or her (them). The accused official(s) shall have the right to request a public hearing on the accusation(s) against him or her (them). The official shall be able to defend himself or herself at the public hearing on the accusation before any vote on sanction is taken by the City Council.