Ethics

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Ethics

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:08 am

Here is a letter I wrote last year to the Board of Selectmen about ethics. Coincidentally I wrote it exactly on this day. They said we didn’t need a code of ethics at the time. How about now?


Mr. Gregory R. Buccina, Chairman
Rumford Board of Selectpersons
145 Congress St.
Rumford, Maine 04276

Re: Code of Ethics/Code of Conduct/Mission statement/Statement of values

Dear Mr. Buccina:

Pursuant to our conversation of December 14, 2007, I offer the following outline for exploring the possibility of adding a code of ethics or other such language to the town governance documents, particularly the Town of Rumford By-Laws:

Rationale: The primary goal of any code of ethics is to set a higher standard. A code of ethics at its most basic must be compatible with our community values. Its relevance to the community lies in its ability to go beyond our common values and interpret those values for society.

Intent: What is the intent of the code of ethics? A code can regulate and/or inspire. In other words, it will not only contain the basic rules of conduct but will also provide an inspirational model of behavior.

Why have a code of Ethics?

- To define accepted/acceptable behaviors
- To promote high standards of practice
- To provide a benchmark for self-evaluation
- To establish a framework for professional behaviors and responsibilities
- As a vehicle for occupational identity – i.e., this is who we are, no matter where we go
- As a mark of occupational maturity

Getting started: A first step in creating a code of ethics is to define the main principals of conducting town business. These principals might even serve as a Mission Statement or Statement of Values and be simply added to the By-Laws on their own without rules of enforcement. The following is an example of business principals taken from the By-Laws of United Utilities (UU). Language may be amended to fit our need:

  • We value and respect our employees
  • We focus on the needs of our townspeople
  • We respect the contributions and rights of our citizens/taxpayers
  • We seek constructive business relationships
  • We are good Rumford citizens
  • We seek to demonstrate integrity, honesty and openness

A basic test for ethical decision-making might also be added, either to documents or training. For example, Rotary International has something they call the Four-Way Test. The following is a simple three-test model:

Transparency test – Do I mind others knowing what I decided?
Affect test – Who does my decision affect or hurt?
Fairness test – Would my decision be considered fair by those affected?

There are many thoughts around codes of conduct. On one hand we hear that codes are useless window-dressing designed to mask problems. On the other hand we hear that codes are great - a crucial step on the way to enhanced productivity, credibility and profitability. There is no definitive statistical study that shows once and for all whether codes work or not. But there is considerable information that codes, along with other measures, have helped many companies build a healthier work climate and reputation. Perhaps we can apply this to our community.

Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Sincerely,


Timeout

cc: James G. Doar, Rumford Town Manager

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Re: Ethics

Post by Dave on Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:06 am

I used to be a Rotarian. A great bunch of people.

The pledge we said at every meeting was:

- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build good will and better friendships?
-Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Great words to live by.

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Re: Ethics

Post by Z on Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:45 am

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.
Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Ethics

Post by KevinNSaisi on Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:34 am

It is my understanding that a code of ethics is best dreived from the collective effort of the members of the board. If it is just a resolution drafted by one person and adopted as a resolution, it will not have the buy-in of the whole board. It is not as much a set of rules, as it is a statement of shared values.

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Re: Ethics

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:14 am

I agree 100% that ethical behavior is best adopted by a group or culture on its own. Therefore, I can only offer a guideline to the town boards for creating such a statement or code for themselves. What a wonderful exercise in exploring these shared values this would be for our boards.


Last edited by Timeout on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:17 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : trying to say what I'm trying to say...lol)

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Re: Ethics

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:19 am

"- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build good will and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?"

As Dave points out about the Rotary 4-Way Test, a code of ethics could be this simple.

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Re: Ethics

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:25 am

Let's be clear. I write this post in an effort to place responsibility for addressing the behavior of Ms. Norris where it belongs. Obviously it begins with the individual herself but we have far exhausted any hope that she will self-monitor.

First, I would ask the various town boards to reign in their own members.

Second, I would ask the selectmen to reign in inappropriate behavior from people they themselves have appointed.

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Re: Ethics

Post by KevinNSaisi on Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:44 am

4:34 am to 12:43 am...... I hate these short workdays. Smile

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Re: Ethics

Post by KevinNSaisi on Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:51 am

Another beutiful day begins Smile

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