Port of Olympia Commissioner George Barner on Thursday came out strongly against the idea of adopting a code of conduct for the commission, an about-face after having a hand in creating the original policy.
In 2013, commissioners Bill McGregor, Jeff Davis and Barner created a code of conduct for the commission. But rather than officially adopt it via a motion or resolution, the policy was simply posted on port property, along with their photos.
Heather Burgess, the port’s legal counsel, said Thursday during the port work session that without a resolution the current code of conduct policy is not enforceable.
The following are some of the actions the commission code of conduct spells out:
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▪ Focus on issues rather than personalities.
▪ Exercise honesty in all written and interpersonal interaction, never intentionally misleading or misinforming each other.
▪ Respect decisions of the commission and do not undermine them. A commissioner can express his or her vote on an issue, but underscore that the decision of the commission will move forward.
▪ Come prepared to meetings, read materials in advance and engage with staff with questions prior to the meetings.
It also spells out several steps the commission can take if a commissioner is found to be in violation of the policy. Among them: a verbal warning, a written warning and a letter of censure.
McGregor and Commissioner Michelle Morris said they were in favor of a resolution, both for current and future commissions. But Barner called it “overkill” and said several times that he didn’t understand the need to take that next step.
Morris tried to help.
“You’ve been working under these guidelines all along,” she told him. “All this does is make it official.”
But Barner still wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said.