Council and mayor agree to put it on the agenda for the upcoming strategic planning session
A code of conduct that would be signed by members of the Crookston City Council, debated by the council for an extended period of time in 2018 and then shelved, is back on the table, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s chances of being adopted and signed by council members have greatly improved.
The code of conduct wasn’t shelved for all eternity, either, in the latter stages of 2018. At the time, council members and then-Mayor Wayne Melbye suggested that debate on whether or not to adopt the code be suspended until the November election and a new council and mayor took their seats in January.
With a new mayor, Guy Martin, in place, along with new council members Cindy Gjerswold and Don Cavalier, the council’s Ways & Means Committee discussed the code of conduct again this week, after it was placed on their meeting agenda by City Administrator Shannon Stassen. He told the Times that the mayor and several council members asked that it be brought up again.
The code of conduct came into play after some council members and Melbye, in the months since the November 2016 election, got into some public squabbles that had some concerned that the open bickering and accusations at various meetings was giving the City of Crookston operation a black eye.
The League of Minnesota Cities subsequently came to Crookston to conduct a workshop on topics such as effective communication. The LMC also provided its template of a code of conduct to be considered for adoption here. Over multiple meetings, council members and Melbye discussed the code, and it was shortened and some redundancies were removed, before it was put off until 2019.
“What’s wrong with this version?” Martin asked at this week’s meeting as he read the latest revisions of the code. “This is something I feel gives a little bit of integrity to the job.”
At Large Council Member Tom Vedbraaten said he thinks some of the language in the code makes it too easy for people to file a complaint against a council member. “The way it is written, it opens up a lot of stuff,” he said.
Although previous discussions have suggested that language in the city charter should suffice when it comes to council member behavior, Cavalier said he thinks it would be wise to “have a standard for our code of conduct to utilize when we have problems.”
Martin and council members agreed to put the code of conduct on the agenda for the council’s upcoming strategic planning session, which has yet to be scheduled but will likely take place later this month or in March.