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Madueno Brings Civility Campaign To Council
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Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno, who has publicly reprimanded unruly city council members for rudeness and once called for a written code of conduct, intends to bring the 'Choose Civility' campaign begun by Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon before the council starting as early as next month.

She has invited Changnon to address the council on the principles of his campaign at the Feb. 7 meeting and will ask council to pass a formal resolution of support.

She also will invite individual council members and city employees to sign their names to the countywide campaign.

"It's important for us as adults to show civility and due respect for others, for us and for our youth who look to us for an example," she said.

Following in the footsteps of many other counties, the Stanislaus County Office of Education launched the campaign in early November to address the issue of declining civility and to encourage people to choose positive, respectful behaviors.

Changnon said at the time his inspiration for the initiative came following his attendance at a number of school board meetings. Faced with state budget cuts, a number of school boards had asked him to attend their meetings to explain how all districts were affected by the cuts and the consequent problems weren't necessarily because of mismanagement by the district or the school board.

He said that he was happy to attend the meetings and shoulder some of that criticism but found many issues with civility in various school districts. He added that children were often present and he felt that the adults were modeling inappropriate behavior.

The guidelines for the campaign come from P.M. Forni's book "Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct."

Madueno is among approximately 30 people including politicians, educators, faith-based and medical people who were asked to serve as advisors for the campaign and all want to see the image of Stanislaus County improve.

She quoted the campaign's 12 principles of civil behavior that should guide people's behavior toward each other, especially at public meetings.

Those 12 principles are: Respect other people's time, don't shift responsibility and blame, accept and give praise, respect others' opinions, acknowledge others, speak kindly, apologize sincerely, refrain from idle complaints, think the best, accept and give constructive criticism, and don't speak ill.

Changnon said this initiative is not just for schools, city governments and governing boards, but businesses and members of the community as well. He added that he'd like to get people talking about civility, such as in staff meetings, and said he knows that organizers and leaders have their work cut out but "we have to do something."