Council to discuss code of conduct

An Odessa city councilman has asked for the code of conduct for elected city officials to be placed on Tuesday’s agenda.

Councilman Steve Thompson said he asked for the issue to be placed on Tuesday’s agenda after the mayor last week accused City Manager Michael Marrero and his staff of financial mismanagement and lying about the need to spend $95 million to rehabilitate the current water treatment plant.

Mayor Javier Joven has made disparaging personal attacks about city staff, and even a councilman’s spouse. On Tuesday, the council will discuss their own code of conduct ordinance to see what, if any, measures can be taken, including the possibility of censuring Joven.

“This is becoming a pattern with him, and it’s unacceptable,” Thompson said after hearing of Joven’s comments last week. “He is destroying morale in the city with his baseless and slanderous allegations.”

City Attorney Natasha Brooks is expected to review the council’s code of conduct with them and explain what steps can be taken against council members who violate that conduct. Brooks has not responded to requests for comment.

According to the city council’s own code of conduct ordinance, “The professional and personal conduct of council members while exercising their office must be above reproach and avoid any sense or appearance of impropriety.

“Council members shall refrain from abusive conduct, or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other council members, council appointees, boards, and committees, the staff or public.”

The ordinance details: “council members who intentionally and repeatedly do not follow proper conduct may be reprimanded or formally censured by the council, and be removed from committee assignments (both within the city and intergovernmental agencies) by the council.”

Other steps include:

>> Council members should point out to the offending councilmember any perceived infractions of the ethics policy. If the offenses continue, then the matter should be placed on a council agenda in closed session under the provisions of section 551.074 of the Texas Government Code.

>> The affected councilmember may request that the complaint be considered in a public meeting. A copy of the complaint in writing shall be provided to the affected councilmember. At such meeting, the city attorney shall present in detail to the city council the nature of the complaint and the city attorney’s findings and conclusions as to a possible violation of this code of conduct.

>> The affected councilmember shall have the right to a full and complete hearing before the city council with the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence in such person’s behalf. The non-implicated city council members in attendance shall conduct a hearing in open session and review the complaint. The city council may reject the complaint and take no action or take action to formally reprimand or censure the offending councilmember.

>> Council is also expected to address several major issues during their Tuesday meeting, including whether to approve the use of a certificates of obligation bond to pay for a proposed $95 million major rehabilitation of the current water treatment plant.

>> Council is scheduled to vote on a revised Downtown Master Plan Update for $85,000. Council in April rejected by a 4-3 vote the initial recommendation of hiring Kimley Horn for $112,000 to oversee the master plan.