Directors of the Modesto Irrigation District adopted a code of conduct for themselves Tuesday, though not without a little disagreement over how to disagree.
The vote was 4-0, with Director Mike Serpa abstaining after he raised concerns about a couple of the provisions.
The code grew out of the board's reprimand of Serpa last year for comments he made to board secretary Pat Mills over access to the board's office and document archives. Serpa apologized for those comments the day of the reprimand.
Tuesday, he took issue with a part of the code that encourages board members to notify General Manager Allen Short "in advance when they plan to speak publicly in opposition to district decisions and policies."
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Serpa, a frequent dissenter on board votes since his election in 2005, said the code merely should urge directors to make clear that such statements are their own opinion.
Serpa also asked for a change in a provision urging Short to notify the board of his emergency actions "as soon as convenient." Serpa preferred "as soon as is reasonable."
He offered a motion with these two amendments but got no second. The code, as drafted by General Counsel Tim O'Laughlin, then passed with votes from Directors Cecil Hensley, Tom Van Groningen, Paul Warda and John Kidd.
In general, the code says, directors "shall conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of civility, decorum, integrity and respect at all times with one another, with staff, media and with members of the public."
The code bars board members from soliciting election support from MID employees at the workplace or via the employee directory or e-mail system. These workers are free to support board candidates away from the workplace.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2385.