Charleston drafts new ‘code of conduct’ for city council members

VIDEO: Charleston drafts new ‘code of conduct’ for city council members

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - An attorney for the city of Charleston has drafted a rough version of a new set of rules for city council and committee members to follow.

After a controversy involving Harry Griffin happened last month, city leaders said they looked at whether council and committee members could be held accountable for their behavior.

City Councilmember Carol Jackson said she found out through talking the city’s legal counsel, there is no information pertaining to conduct in their local rules of order.

“We don’t have a good way of determining what is a good cause as a matter of legal process, so that’s where the code of conduct from, to be able to hold ourselves accountable for any sort of actions, behavior, language, whatever,” Jackson said.

During December’s final city council meeting, City Attorney Chip McQueeney wrote up a first draft for a potential code of conduct.

Some council members who initiated the conversation say the document will give them a tool to hold elected officials to equal professional standards.

“As it stands right now, the only that we’re held accountable to is what happens while we’re in session,” Councilman Peter Shahid said. “I want to make sure that our conduct is governed by things we do outside of council meetings or committee meetings.”

In the first version of the code, the document outlies how members should conduct themselves in and out of meetings.

Members are expected to “refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges, or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of council.”

There draft also mentions section on technology, reminding members to maintain a professional tone on social media, emails, text messages, etc.

Any council or committee member that violates the code could be subject to consequences.

“City council may impose sanctions on members whose conduct does not comply with the code, such as reprimand, formal censure, or loss of seniority or committee assignment,” the draft states.

An ad hoc committee consisted of Councilmembers Ross Appel and Marie Delcioppo will review the language and create a final draft for council to consider at a future meeting.

“I am honored to have been appointed by the Mayor to help define expectations and responsibilities of the City’s elected officials that best reflect our City’s and citizen’s values that will help us all move forward together with clearly defined principles to which we can be held accountable. This helps ensure we all have the same understanding of expectations beyond those in our oath of office,” Delcioppo said in a statement.

Appel also sent out a statement regarding his involvement in looking over the draft.

“I want to thank Mayor Tecklenburg for asking me to serve on this important ad hoc committee,” he said. “I look forward to working with CM Delcioppo and the rest of my colleagues on a Code of Conduct worthy of the great City of Charleston and its citizens who put their faith and trust in us.”

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