Columbia City Council Chastised for Behavior

Council members sign a civility pledge

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By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- The level of communication amongst Columbia City Council members has become so convoluted that they were asked to co-sign a clause that they would cooperate and conduct themselves in a respectable manner during meetings.

Longtime council woman Tameika Isaac Devine says members don't trust each other.

"There are deep rooted issues on our council that could hinder our ability to work well together to move the city forward."

The agreement, called a civility code, was drafted by the Community Relations Council. City council members received a copy of it at Tuesday night's meeting and were expected to sign it on the spot. At-large members Devine and Cameron Runyan--who are known to consistently butt heads--along with Sam Davis and Mayor Steve Benjamin agreed.

Here's what they agree to:
Demonstrate respect for others by conducting myself with tact and decorum during all public discussions of issues; Be respectful of others in my attitude and my conversations, Listen to the position of others before offering my opinion; Refrain from engaging in name calling, insults, demeaning or inflammatory remarks; and Always discharge their duties with concern for all citizens.

Leona Plaugh, Moe Baddourah chose not to sign. Brian Newman was absent.

While Plaugh could not be reached for comment, Moe Baddourah told ABC Columbia News by phone that he doesn't have a problem with being civil to his colleagues, but he does have a problem with the pledge being "dropped in his lap" sight unseen with his signature expected.

Mayor Benjamin said he was 'disappointed but hopeful' in reference to Plaugh and Baddourah choosing not to sign the pledge. He also noted, the pledge is the first step in what he hopes will become and ongoing process. On May 2, when council has its annual retreat, members will take part in mental and physical activities at Fort Jackson in an effort to promote cohesiveness and team building.

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