Code of Conduct for Public Officials
As a representative of the City of Whitewater, public officials are encouraged to help strengthen the community by building public trust, encouraging open dialogue, maintaining transparency and actively sharing ideas and opinions with others in thoughtful and considerate ways. The following list of behaviors and practices helps to illustrate the high standards expected of those in public office.
1. Be Informed. Endeavor to read the packet material provided before each meeting, keep informed on all local, state and national developments of municipal significance, and arrive at each meeting prepared to conduct City business in a meaningful manner.
2. Pay Attention. Strive to be aware of others and sensitive to the immediate context of actions taken.
3. Listen Closely. Strive to understand other points of view, to seek first an understanding of what other individuals or groups may have to say before making any final decisions related to business being conducted.
4. Be Inclusive. Welcome and encourage participation of all parties involved in the discussion on any issue, excluding none.
5. Avoid Gossip. Discourage and avoid the spread of gossip, which can undermine the public process.
6. Be Agreeable. Actively look for opportunities to agree on community issues and in all other cases, be civil and cordial, agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable.
7. Show Respect. Show respect for the viewpoints of others and refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges, derogatory remarks or verbal attacks upon the character, actions, or opinions of others, whether they be elected or appointed officials, city staff, or the public. Avoid pursuing any conduct or action calculated to embarrass another public official or any member of the public.
Praise in public and reprimand in private. When debating or commenting in a meeting, focus on the issue and avoid negative comments regarding the groups or individuals involved.
8. Be Honest and Transparent. Practice and encourage full and open disclosure by participating openly and transparently in meetings and activities as required by law. Practice and encourage this same openness by providing full explanations of the intent and motives behind actions to fellow board or committee members. Refrain from withholding or concealing any information or matter in which fellow committee members should be concerned.
9. Maintain Confidentiality. Respect and maintain the confidentiality of information that cannot be disclosed (i.e. information from a closed or executive session) by not divulging said information at any time while outside of a closed or executive session. In all ways protect and maintain the security of confidential records.
10. Demonstrate Proper Meeting Etiquette. Observe proper decorum and behavior in meetings and refrain from interrupting other speakers, making personal comments not related to the discussion or otherwise interfering with the orderly conduct of the meeting.
11. Accept Responsibility and Be Sincere. When mistakes or misunderstandings occur, the best way to move beyond the incident and to restore public trust is to be honest. Accept full responsibility for personal actions and opinions avoid shifting blame to other groups or individuals. Be open and upfront regarding disagreements. Endeavor to repair damaged relationships, including openly and promptly apologizing where appropriate.
12. Put City Interests First. Always strive toward achieving the common good for the community by pursuing those decisions, actions and initiatives that are best for the community. Avoid conflicts of interest. At all times, Place duty to uphold the law and duty to pursue organizational goals and objectives above personal interests.
13. Seek No Personal Advantage. Public officials, especially those that are elected, stand as agents of the public purpose and should conduct themselves in an open, fair and impartial manner. When it comes to municipal rules, laws, or services, do not seek special treatment for others, whether they be neighbors, friends, coworkers, employers, or family. . Do not use the municipality or any part of a municipal program for personal advantage or for the advantage of others. Strive to live and serve in a manner that is above reproach and avoid the appearance of impropriety.
14. Uphold the Democratic Process. Perform duties with diligence and in accordance with the rules of order established by the Common Council, board, commission, or committee conducting business. Recognize that the authority to take formal action to direct or recommend rests with the Common Council or its designated committee in legal session and not with any individual members of said bodies. Public officials may express opposition to an action made by their respective committee(s). However, do not publicly criticizing individual committee members or the committee as a whole for said action when the action has been properly presented, voted on, and passed by a majority vote. Ensure that citizen involvement and citizen opinions regarding public policy issues are fully considered.