BRENTWOOD -- The City Council recently adopted a formal ethics policy for present and future city leaders after concerns were raised during the last election over the use of city equipment for election campaigning.

The new policy outlining ethics and conduct standards for city officials is based on the core values of integrity, quality, respect, passion and accountability. It is similar to guidelines followed by city staff, according to Brentwood City Attorney Damien Brower.

Councilman Erick Stonebarger initiated drafting the ethics policy in November 2012 after Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor was observed using a city vehicle in downtown Brentwood for campaign purposes. According to Stonebarger, this policy holds local elected officials to a higher standard.

"It gives a good, broad boundary of what we should be doing. If we get out of line, then how we should handle it. That was what we were lacking before," he said at a recent council meeting.

Taylor recently declined to comment on the 2012 election incident, but he insisted that the new ethics policy is valuable for the city and those who want to run for public office.

"We had nothing in place. There was no ordinance of what you could do or couldn't do. Now it is specified," Taylor said. "Things were very vague, and this brings things into compliance for present and the future councils."

The policy states that the purpose is "to promote and maintain fair, ethical and accountable local government for the city of Brentwood." It emphasizes honesty, good judgment, team work, self-motivation, responsible actions, fairness, pride and enthusiasm.


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"It gives us the ability to hold each other to these same qualities. We have these expectations of city staff, and it is only appropriate that the head decision-making body should also be held accountable to very similar requirements," said Brentwood Vice Mayor Joel Bryant.

Bryant noted that these ethical standards are especially helpful for new council members who often have little experience with public office. The policy includes statements such as "I do the right thing, even when no one is looking" and "I work to contribute to a strong organization that exemplifies transparency and open communication."

"It was very important for us to have some guidelines. That coming into this position, we understand what the expectations are on our behavior amongst ourselves and out in public," Bryant said. "It is quite a learning curve for public office."

The new policy makes clear that council members are not supposed to accept gifts or services for personal benefit or use public resources for private gain.

"It was something that was well-needed and put together well," Councilman Steve Barr said.

Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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