This community opinion was contributed by Tim Burns, candidate for Hollister City Council District 4. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
It’s time for the Hollister City Council to adopt a Code of Ethics and Conduct for all elected and appointed officials for the city of Hollister.
In April of 2019 the city hired an outside facilitator to host a two-day workshop to help ease tension between council members as they worked to discuss common visions and goals. The workshop cost taxpayers $3,500.
In April and May of 2019 relationships between the council members appeared to become further strained. During the past 18 months there have been inferences of conflicts of interest and special deals given. Council members have been accused of social bullying, cyberbullying, use of profanity, harassment, rudeness, unruly behavior and making threats.
In November of 2019 the city moved forward to replace the retiring City Manager. The recruitment, screening and hiring process were completed and the job was offered and accepted. Once the chosen candidate was announced the community expressed their displeasure with the choice. Controversy ensued. Ultimately the Council withdrew the offer. In the end the city bought their way out of this problem by paying the eight-day interim city manager $25,000 in tax payer money to go away.
In January of 2020 three members of council were accused of using inappropriate slurs, profanity and making threats and faced possible censorship. One council member was eventually censured, two were not.
Things then got even more interesting and public when KSBW did an editorial titled “Hollister Hullabaloo!” The editorial asks the question, will the city council be able to set aside all the distraction and do what’s in the best interest of the community, or is now finding common ground an impossible task?
Sadly on March 19, Councilmember Marty Richman passed away. Soon thereafter the COVID-19 pandemic hit and things have not been the same since then.
In June, one council member was publicly accused by another of not complying with city travel requirements.
The Hollister City Council does not meet in July. Hopefully when they return in August things will be different. I hope council members will be able to get along and conduct the city’s business in a polite and professional manner. With Councilmember Richman’s position vacant controversial items will in all likelihood not be agreed upon by the four council members and if the council members vote two for, two against, no action will be taken.
Perhaps one item the city council can agree upon is to adopt a Code of Ethics and Conduct for all elected and appointed officials.
On February 3, I attended the city council meeting. I spoke during the public comment session. All council members were present at the meeting. At that time I requested that the city council adopt a Code of Ethics and Conduct for all elected and appointed city officials for the city of Hollister.
I gave council members a copy of a Code of Ethics and Conduct ordinance from the city of Belmont, CA. The ordinance is well written. The cities of Belmont and Hollister are General Law cities so this ordinance could be used as it is written with some minor edits. If it works for the city of Belmont it should work for the city of Hollister! I received calls from two of the council members expressing interest in pursuing the ordinance. I have offered my help.
As the city council resumes meetings in August hopefully they can agree to develop and adopt a Code of Ethics and Conduct. It seems fundamental and necessary based on council’s past actions. I have attached a copy of a Code of Ethics and Conduct ordinance for community thoughts and comments (see PDF below). Words matter but in this case council’s actions speak louder than their words.
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