Prompted by a squabble between a supervisor and one of his constituents earlier this year, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors now has a new code of conduct to follow.
Supervisors voted unanimously on Aug. 7 to adopt a governance manual that lays out "practices that build and sustain positive board relationships and define a culture of quality, equity, and respect." The board requested the policy on Feb. 6, after a heated exchange between 3rd Distinct Supervisor Adam Hill and Pismo Beach resident Mark Burnes—where Hill told Burnes to "fuck off" in a Facebook message—went public.
"The integrity of the county is dependent upon the responsible and professional manner in which each board member, and the board collectively, fulfills its governance roles and responsibilities," the policy reads.
Acrimony among county supervisors runs deeper than that one exchange. In the nearly two years since the election of 1st District Supervisor John Peschong flipped the board's majority to the conservative end of the political spectrum, hostility and division has, at times, defined county politics. That appears to be addressed in the governance manual.
In the document, board members pledge to "govern as a team," make "well-informed and transparent decisions," "be accountable to each other," and "establish clear roles" and responsibilities. It lists mindfulness, focus, manner, and preparation as the key characteristics of effective board members.
Supervisors passed the manual with little discussion, thanking the county staff who were involved in crafting it. Δ