The Milford Borough Council adopted a code of conduct for officials, with member Pete Cooney giving the dissenting vote.
Councilman Joe Dooley read the code aloud at the council’s Oct. 19 meeting. He said it will help the borough avoid lawsuits and also reflects the same standards that borough employees must abide by. Mayor Sean Strub said the code gives liability protection to the borough.
Borough solicitor Anthony Magnotta said the code is good to go, and complies with the law. He compared it to sunshine laws that make official actions transparent to the public. The oath of office is another important and binding statement made by borough officials, he said.
“To me it’s a waste of time,” said Cooney, adding that no other of the surrounding municipalities have such a thing. “Oh, this is a way to keep me quiet.”
He said he wasn’t going to “throw it in with this garbage.”
“The board doesn’t want any opposition at all,” he said. “The board wants total control. And they want to quiet me on every issue when they don’t agree with me. There is no reason to try to control the borough council elected officials’ thoughts.”
Dooley disagrees. “No one is being targeted,” he said. “We are not gagging. We are not controlling with respect to thoughts or opinions. We want the best from everyone. If someone does slander us, we want those who don’t countenance that type of conduct. We have an established baseline for proper interaction with everyone. This includes every committee of the council. This includes abusive language and inappropriate threatening conduct.”
He said the board appreciates differing points of view.
“I don’t want to hear about someone attacking someone else,” Dooley said. “We want to protect the taxpayers from any litigation fostered by inappropriate conduct by elected or appointed officials. We are not stifling appropriate conduct. We want differences of opinion to be expressed in appropriate language and conduct. It’s not about any one person. It’s about members of the council and appointed officials. We have a code of conduct for employees of the borough, so why shouldn’t we have one for elected and appointed officials? We should be held to at least the same standards as our employees.”
“No one is being targeted. We are not gagging. We are not controlling with respect to thoughts or opinions. We want the best from everyone.” Councilman Joe Dooley