Cathy Whitmire explains to the Langley City Council the need for local governments to sign the Civility First pledge. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Cathy Whitmire explains to the Langley City Council the need for local governments to sign the Civility First pledge. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Langley agrees to “model civil behavior and tone”

Council discusses civility and ethics codes

Civility and ethics popped into the usual mundane topics of sewers, water systems and parking at Monday’s Langley City Council meeting.

After hearing a presentation from the local organization, Civility First, the council and Mayor Tim Callison agreed to sign a pledge to help “create a community where we all treat each other with civility and respect.”

The pledge affirms that the officials will “model civil behavior and tone, online as well as in public,” and “genuinely attempt to understand the point of view of others.”

Cathy Whitmire co-founder of Civility First, described it as a nonpartisan, nonprofit group with by-laws that require board members be evenly split, “50 percent leaning blue, 50 percent leaning red.”

“We came together a year-and—a-half ago because we were concerned with what we heard in terms of civility,” she said. “We want to resist the current level of civic discourse. We don’t want it to become normalized.”

Last month, Coupeville town council members became the first local government officials to sign the pledge. Civility First is also holding a photo contest later this year with the challenge of “capturing a moment of civility on Whidbey.”

The Langley City Council also approved a revision of the city’s code of ethics. Most of the changes involved re-wording some sections and clarifying others.

Under the “confidentiality” section, it stated that although most information coming before the city is within public domain, “the management of information coming before officials, employees, consultants, volunteers or vendors in an official capacity must be handled with extreme sensitivity” and that “actions which deny the dignity of individuals or conduct which is disrespectful to others … must be avoided.”

It also clarified the process for requesting an advisory opinion of the Ethics Training and Advisory Board .

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