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Board establishes code of ethics

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors agreed on February 5 to adopt a formal and official policy and rules procedure that establishes a code of ethics and standards of conduct at meetings; citizen and media policies; and policy and procedure on appointments and service on boards and commissions.

The code of ethics policy includes specific rules concerning supervisor conduct. A supervisor cannot make private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of any office; cannot engage in any business with the county government or the school system; can never use information gained confidentially in the performance of governmental duties as a means of profit; and must avoid adopting policies, supporting programs or engaging in activities that discriminate against or offend individuals because of race, sex, age, religion, creed, country of origin or disability.

Concerning media relations, the ethics policy states that when responding to the media, a clear distinction is made between personal opinion or belief and a decision made by the board; and supervisors should avoid using the position of public trust to gain access to the media for purposes of criticizing colleagues or citizens, impugning their integrity, or vilifying their personal beliefs.

The new media policy states that the board chair should be the media contact for county matters, and when a board member is interviewed, the board member should contact the chair, vice chair or the county administrator to tell them the nature of the interview. 

“This procedure does not preclude any member from responding to individual questions from the media,” it states.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 02.20.2013

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