Taneytown city council expected to vote on council's code of conduct

After months of discussion, Taneytown's mayor and City Council will likely vote on a code of conduct ordinance during their Monday, June 13, meeting. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Taneytown City Office's council chambers.

The ordinance was originally proposed by Councilman Angelo Zambetti to act as an enforcement mechanism for the city's new campaign finance ordinance and a recently passed charter resolution, which outlines the procedure to remove elected officials from office. The proposed code defines conduct expectations for elected officials and establish penalties if those expectations are not met.


The proposed code of conduct includes regulations such as, "When representing the City on official business, officials shall not speak negatively of the City or any City Officials, Employees, Contractors or Vendors; furthermore said Officials shall behave responsibly and in a manner as to project a positive image of the City." Under the ordinance, officials who violate the code may be fined, reprimanded, censured or a combination thereof.

Councilman Donald Frazier questioned why the code of conduct is needed. He also called the code's language unconstitutional.

"This will limit my freedom of speech. … City councilmen are not employees of the city. We're managers of the city. Just because we're compensated doesn't mean we're employees. … You can't forbid me from talking to the city's staff," Frazier said.

Taneytown's attorney Jack Gullo Jr. explained the legislation's language was provided by the Maryland Municipal League and is a combination of various municipalities' code of conducts. In previous meetings, Gullo has used sexual harassment as an example of how the code would be implemented.

"If a councilperson sexually harasses an employee, there is no recourse. We can't fine them or discipline them," he said. "If it happened between employee to employee, the answers are in the employee handbook. These are rules for the council."

Councilman Joseph Vigliotti said the code of conduct is about transparency and accountability.

"The U.S. House, U.S. Senate and U.S. Supreme Court adhere to a code of conduct. The idea that this is unconstitutional is not accurate. …If it's constitutional at the federal level, why would it not be at a local level?" Vigliotti asked.

Frazier said the code would limit how he expresses his complaints about the city's water rates.

"If I think the water bills are way too high and I'm upset about it. … What does it mean, why can't I speak negatively about the town?" Frazier asked.

Vigliotti said the code did not restrict Frazier's freedom of speech and questioned why Frazier would want to represent the city in a negative way.

Councilman Bradley Wantz added that when council members wish to speak their mind, they should simply say they're representing themselves.

If you go:

What: Taneytown Mayor and Council Meeting

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 13


Where: Taneytown City Office in Council Chambers, 17 E. Baltimore St., Taneytown