Marseilles City Council adopts speech, expressions policy

By a 3-2 vote, city employees, officials to be held to ‘higher standard’

A bench was dedicated to Marseilles first female mayor Patti Smith in front of City Hall.

The Marseilles City Council on Wednesday approved by a 3-2 vote a resolution outlining a policy regarding the speech, expression and social networking of city employees.

The policy “provides guidelines for regulating and balancing speech and expressions with the needs of the city of Marseilles,” later adding “without infringing upon speech or expressions.”

Voting in favor of the policy were Mayor Jim Hollenbeck and commissioners Bobby Kaminski and Melissa Small.

Commissioner Mike Scheib, who along with Commissioner Jim Buckingham voted no on the measure, said he’s troubled by the language in the policy, that it applies to “all forms of public and private speech” and particularly the portion that states “speech or expression that could reasonably be foreseen as having a negative impact on the credibility of the city, employees, and/or officials.”

He said virtually anything contrary to the consensus or pointing out a different point of view could be construed as having a negative impact on a given situation, citing the example of his playing devil’s advocate regarding the purchase of the new City Hall.

He added there also is no enforcement mechanism outlined for violation of this policy.

“For that reason, I feel this is wholly inappropriate,” Scheib said.

Buckingham, who like Scheib voted against the purchase of the new City Hall, believes this issue stems from that singular issue.

Small acknowledged while some statements could be interpreted as negative, the policy is needed as elected officials and city employees should hold themselves to a higher standard and to be ever mindful of the things they say in public.

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