Guidelines on communicating with other council members, the public and the media as well as how social media messages should be crafted are part of a draft code of conduct being dealt with by Richmond city council on Monday.
When giving an opinion, councillors must “clearly state” that it is their personal opinion and not that of the whole council or the City of Richmond, according to the draft document. And, on social media, council members "will use caution in reporting decision-making.”
Furthermore, a disclaimer, for example, using the phrase “in my opinion” should be included in social media postings.
“It is not the role of individual members and appointees to report directly on City-related business,” states the draft document.
In the section titled “Interactions with the public and media,” councillors are expected to “accurately communicate” what council has decided even if they disagree with the decision and not give out information that misrepresents the city or a council decision.
Councillors also must prepare for meetings, listen to all public discussions, not interrupt others or make personal comments that aren't about the business at hand, according to the draft code of conduct.
The document also sets out guidelines on how to speak, stating council members "shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges, or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members, appointees, the staff, or the public."
The six-page-long document covers the conduct of council members, conduct in meetings, interactions with staff and the public, social media as well as advocacy and political activities.
The "foundational principles" are integrity, respect, accountability, leadership and collaboration and openness and transparency.
If differences can’t be resolved by discussion, there is a possibility to move a motion of public censure.
Any complaints will be dealt with behind closed doors in a committee meeting.