Council to vote on harassment policy for boards/commissions

On the Council agenda for Thursday is a proposed ordinance change relating to “board member conduct.”

While there are already polices in place barring city employees from engaging in sexual harassment, there apparently are no such rules regarding the hundreds of volunteer members of the city’s boards and commissions, some of which are highly influential.

The new ordinance would formally bar commissioners from engaging “in conduct or use language that is offensive, harassing, or sexually suggestive toward an individual or a group when interacting with other City board members, City employees, or members of the public, when the interaction is part of the board member’s official duties.”

In addition, sexual harassment and diversity training will be a part of the required training that all commissioners and board members undergo within the first three months of their tenure.

Here are the current training requirements, with the new provision at the bottom.

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You may recall that a few months ago Council members faced the awkward situation where they were compelled to approve Fred McGhee to be a member of the Community Development Commission. McGhee had described a city employee during a hearing as getting “warm and moist” about a housing issue.

While Council usually has final say about who goes on a commission, the CDC, which administers funds from two federal grant programs, is unusual because its membership is dictated by a arcane federal regulations. McGhee was elected by his neighborhood association to be on the board, and there was nothing Council could to do prevent him from being seated. However, the other members of the CDC could vote to have him removed.

After being appointed, McGhee denounced what he described as character assassination and predicted that the commission would immediately vote to remove him. But three-and-a-half months later, he’s still there.

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