Code of conduct gags anyone but mayor to speak to...
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Jan 15, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Code of conduct gags anyone but mayor to speak to media

Walkerton Herald-Times

By Pauline Kerr

Special to the WHT

South Bruce CAO Sharon Chambers presented a report Jan. 8 to South Bruce Council on the possibility of implementing a code of conduct policy regarding communicating with the media.

The result was a notice of motion for her to prepare a corporate communications policy. She said she had been in communication with a representative from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs on the matter.

While it’s accepted policy that the mayor is the main spokesperson for council, there are times when other council members and staff are approached by the media.

“There are some good reasons for a policy,” she said. In response to a question from Coun. David Wood, Chambers said the mayor (or designate) is the spokesperson on council decisions, adding, “it would not preclude a councillor from speaking on a particular issue, but the councillor should make it clear it’s a personal view being expressed, and should be careful to communicate it as such.”

Mayor Goetz stressed that once a decision is made, council should “fall in line” and present a united front.

Chambers asked if council wanted her to bring forward a draft policy “to make sure we’re sending out the right message properly, without limiting freedom of speech – we have to find a balance.”

But Deputy Mayor Don Schnurr said individual opinions matter too. “Once a decision is made, we have to agree (on it) but it doesn’t mean we can’t have an opinion.”

New deputy mayor

South Bruce’s procedural bylaw was amended in 2011 to state that the deputy mayor is re-elected by council at the last meeting in December in the second year of the term (Dec. 18, 2012).

Two members of council declared their candidacy for the position – Don Schnurr and Kelly Fotheringham. Don Schnurr won by a vote of 4-3 and replaces Carl Zettel.

Referendum planned on ward system

South Bruce council voted at its Jan. 8 meeting to put the question of ending the ward system to the vote during the 2014 municipal election.

Should the public decide to end wards in South Bruce, the change would be in place for the 2018 election.

Mayor Bill Goetz would still like to have a public meeting on the issue, to “get a feel” for the mood of the people.

The concept of a public meeting didn’t sit well with all councillors – Coun. David Wood noted that at a public meeting, you tend to hear “more from those against.”

In a recorded vote to put the question of abolishing the ward system on the ballot for the 2014 election, all of council except Goetz and Coun. Kelly Fotheringham voted in favour.

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