Colin Maycock’s recent letter to SJI about the charter proposal that would make the County Manager more accountable to the elected Council overlooks an important provision in the Charter Review Commission’s recommended changes to the Charter.
The CRC was very concerned about protecting County employees from harassment and intimidation. Indeed, the CRC spent more time debating and refining its paragraph on this subject than they did on any other paragraph.
It reads as follows:
“Section 2.42 Interactions with County Employees:
In all interactions with County employees, County Council members shall exhibit ethical and respectful behavior. No individual County Council member shall direct or discipline, or threaten to direct or discipline, any County employee, whether department head, supervisor, or volunteer, unless such direction or disciplinary action, or warning concerning such direction or disciplinary action, has first been duly approved by a majority of the County Council. Any directives or discipline by County Council members shall be made through the established chain of authority. No disciplinary action by the County Council may be taken with respect to another elected official or an employee or volunteer hired by or reporting to another elected official.”
A violation of the language of this provision is, moreover, enforceable. To mistreat employees in the manner prohibited by Section 2.42 is an offense for which a Council member could be subject to recall for violating the Charter.
Making the County Manager more directly accountable to the elected Council will improve County governance. With the protections laid out in Section 2.42, it does not portend the sort of interference Mr. Maycock fears.