Opinion: City of Tempe Code of Conduct Op-Ed

Opinion: City of Tempe Code of Conduct Op-Ed

By Mayor Mark Mitchell, Vice Mayor Robin Arredondo-Savage and Councilmembers Lauren Kuby, Joel Navarro and Randy Keating

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Tempe City Council’s action to reprimand one of our own, Councilmember Kolby Granville, for two interactions he had — one with a city employee and one with a Tempe resident. The investigations of both these interactions were conducted by an outside attorney for about $20,000. We’d like to explain how we got to this unfortunate place and clarify our Code of Conduct process for our residents.

As a Council, we care very much about this community and, as part of our oath of office, we all agree to uphold a high standard of ethical behavior and hold our Council colleagues to the same. In Tempe, that means that we subject ourselves to the same Code of Conduct that our city employees are required to follow.

Unlike what you may have heard or been told, the action we took is not about politics. It’s about enforcing a Code of Conduct policy and process in place to help ensure proper conduct and behavior that brings credit to our city.

Like most cities, we have a process in place for when complaints involving Councilmembers are made. In Tempe, if the complaint falls within the Code of Conduct, it must be investigated, and we, in our capacity as Councilmembers, must decide based on the facts before us.  

Two complaints were made — one by a city employee who Councilmember Granville consistently belittled and one by a city resident that he labeled a “psycho paparazzi stalker” on Instagram and Facebook. Each felt they had a grievance with Councilmember Granville and subsequently made a complaint. Over the course of the investigation, the outside counsel found indisputably that Councilmember Granville had violated the Code of Conduct on both occasions. Under the complaint procedures, the Council is required to vote on a sanction or punishment, up to public censure, whatever best fits the violation.

You might ask why outside counsel was hired and why was the cost incurred? The Council did not make that decision. It was done because the employee complainant was a member of the City Attorney’s Office. That gives the Office a conflict of interest, thereby prohibiting it from investigating the complaint. With the second complaint made so soon after the first, the Office did not want there to be any perceived impropriety, so the outside counsel was rehired.  Had the original complaint not been from an attorney in the City Attorney’s office, there would have been zero cost to the city for outside counsel.

Our Code of Conduct states that once an investigation is complete, the Council needs to take action of some kind. The facts in the complaints were indisputable. Sadly, it’s not the first time that Councilmember Granville has had issues with City of Tempe staff. We want to make it clear to our employees and our residents that Tempe is a respectful and welcoming city, and no one is more accountable to meeting those standards than your elected officials.

As with any policy or procedure, it is rare to find perfection. As a Council, we will be reexamining this process to see what improvements can be made. And we will continue to work in a way that supports our employees and residents – because it’s the right thing to do.

My Local News – Arizona welcomes a variety of community viewpoints and opinions. The views expressed here solely represent those of the author and not those of My Local News – Arizona and its employees.  

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