|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Wednesday, 09 July 2008 13:18|
Vice Mayor Brenda Hauser choked back tears and Councilman Ron Smith declared he would not run for another term during a discussion of small town ethics at the Camp Verde Town Council meeting July 2.
The discussion arose after Councilman Bob Kovacovich and Councilwoman Norma Garrison asked to clarify the town manager’s role as chief executive officer of the Town of Camp Verde.
Contradictory language in the Town Code identified both the town manager and the mayor as chief executive.
Camp Verde has a council-manager form of government. In the council-manager form, council establishes policy for the town manager to execute. The mayor serves primarily as a figurehead with no more authority or voting power than any other council member.
The mayor’s role came under scrutiny after Mayor Tony Gioia personally negotiated with the Camp Verde Sanitation District in June despite a special committee established by the council for that purpose.
“I do know these basic principles,” Councilman Charlie German said. “The basic principle is if I go out there and speak to anyone, I have to do so as an individual and I cannot speak for the rest of the council.”
“I also know that if there are specific committees that are dealt with, then the protocol would be that those committees or liaisons, seems to me, have been established by the council and therefore that protocol should be followed,” German said.
German complained the current Camp Verde code of conduct fails to provide adequate guidance on the issue.
Garrison agreed. She said she was asking for changes to the town’s ethics code so council members now and in the future can be better guided in how to conduct themselves.
“You know, this isn’t personal,” Garrison said. “This is business. I’ve watched council for years struggle. Now I understand the struggle. It’s because [the code of ethics] is clear as mud.”
After reviewing conduct codes from Payson and Parker, the council directed town staff to modify the Town of Parker Code of Conduct for Elected Officials to insert some Camp Verde-specific changes to the Parker code.
“They don’t leave any stones unturned on how to police themselves,” Garrison said.
Council nearly decided to spend money on an attorney and a relationships council to draft a new code from scratch at the urging of Councilman Greg Elmer, but a Camp Verde resident said she didn’t think much of the expenditure.
“I don’t understand why you can’t get together and you can’t look at something from a Payson or Parker and you can’t sit down and figure this out,” Nancy Floyd said.
“Why do we always have to get an expert for everything?” Kovacovich asked.
Smith made a motion to adopt the Parker code and also asked for other changes, including a limit of two terms for the mayor and council members.
“I won’t vote for that,” she said, struggling to contain her emotions. “I owe everything to this town.”
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