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Jefferson Co. OKs behavior guidelines policy

May 11, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission approved a set of guidelines Thursday on how government officials should conduct themselves despite objections from one member who said they were unnecessary.

The guidelines were drawn up by Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson after a county employee told the commissioners recently that one of the commissioners acted toward him in threatening manner.

At a recent commission meeting, Thompson read through the proposed guidelines, which made suggestions such as the commissioners providing "harmonious workplaces" for employees.

Thompson said the commissioners should only act in public session and that a commissioner cannot order an employee to do something unless the commission authorizes the action.

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Thompson also said commissioners cannot act in an insulting manner toward anyone, among other rules.

Thompson said some of the guidelines were based on state law that prohibits various offenses.

Commission President Frances Morgan said previously that it "goes without saying" that commissioners should conduct themselves that way.

Morgan, one of two commissioners to vote against the guidelines, said after Thursday's meeting that it is strange to pick out various state laws the commissioners must abide by when they have to follow all of them anyway.

Bill Polk, the director of maintenance for Jefferson County government, told the commissioners April 5 that one of them - whom he declined to identify - "got within inches" of his face and shook a finger at him while the two were talking about pay raises and other issues.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department released a report saying Polk told police that Jim Surkamp became "verbally aggressive" with Polk in a parking lot behind the sheriff's department on Washington Street.

Surkamp, one of five commissioners, said Polk's comments bordered on slander. He voted against approving the guidelines.

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