The Casper City Council is looking at restoring its code of ethics and, along with it, adopting a new social media policy for how council members interact with members of the public and each other.
The code of ethics was repealed by the council last year and since then, the city has operated without one.
Council members are accepting input on both the code of ethics and social media policy through Aug. 30 and plan to get an initial look at both during a work session on Tuesday Aug 27.
City Manager Carter Napier said while the city had a social media policy in the past, it dealt largely only with employees of the city.
“The council … was hoping to get some direction, that would be oriented toward what they (employees) do, and how they interact with the public,” he said.
The issue came up because the council members tend to be very involved with social media, Napier said.
“Social media has been a major forum with regard to this particular council and there have been some conversations among them as to what’s appropriate, what’s not, who’s appropriate to speak on the part of the city with regards to the representations they make,” he said.
There have been concerns about the specific social media platforms covered under the new policy and how the policy applies to an employee’s person social media posts.
“It (the policy) is mostly with regard to the appropriate use of city platforms,” Napier said. “It does not try to regulate what an employee or officer of the city does on their own personal page.”
The primary goal of the social media policy is informational and gives employees a set of guidelines to follow.
“The proposed policy provides education/reminders on legal matters such as Public Records Act compliance and terms of service and privacy settings etc.” a summary of the policy said.
There are no penalties proposed for employees and council members who violate the social media policy.
“The policy as drafted does not contemplate any type of formal review or punitive process for alleged violations of the policy; it is a policy embraced by the council to set forth expectations of council for itself, upon which the public may rely, and failing which, the public will judge,” a draft of the policy said.
Included in the ordinance is the revised code of ethics, which seeks to clear up ambiguities in the previous code and reestablish rules for issues including receiving gifts, nepotism and misuse of office for personal gain.
Unlike the social media policy, consequences for infractions of the code of ethics may include termination for city employees and censure or removal from office for public officials and officials.
You can comment and view the proposed ordinance here.