The City of Ketchikan may review its code of conduct and ethics for its elected officials. City Council member Judy Zenge brought the issue forward at the July 2 meeting.
“Because there really is nothing that addresses how we conduct ourselves with our city staff, and they deserve our respect,” she said.
The proposal follows a couple of contentious public meetings in June and July. Council member Emily Chapel, a recent appointee to the council, expressed frustration after Ketchikan’s city manager denied requests for information from Ketchikan’s police department. He explained earlier this month that he didn’t want to commit city staff’s time to fulfilling the requests without formal direction from the council.
In an interview Wednesday, Zenge says the council hasn’t reviewed their code of conduct and ethics policies in the seven years she’s been on the council.
“One of the things that [Council member] Chapel brought up was reviewing the police department’s procedures. That’s not our job. But as I thought about that, I thought, you know, it’s a good point there. We haven’t even looked at ours. So we should be looking at what we do before we go around, looking at other departments, I think.
City management and the city clerk suggest a few steps to start: annual training for elected officials on Robert’s Rules of Order, creating an ethics and conduct handbook for the city’s elected officials and social media training alongside other city employees.
“For me, I think it would be helpful if we had a manual, if we shored up some of these policies and procedures. And during that time, my thought is that it would give the public an understanding of what our responsibilities are,” Zenge said.
In other business, an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression within city limits is up for a final vote Thursday. The measure follows a well-publicized incident earlier this summer in which a Ketchikan flower shop reportedly refused to take an order for a same-sex wedding.
Some religious advocates have asked the council to re-examine a portion of the ordinance that could prohibit most businesses from denying service to LGBTQ customers. The measure passed 6-1 at the council’s last meeting.
The Ketchikan City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The meeting is broadcast on local cable channels and live-streamed at the city’s website.