At Monday’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved the first reading of the recommended changes, which were made in response to some of the issues raised during the last — and only — Ethics Review Board hearing, including recommendations from the Review Board that some clarifications were needed.
Commission Chairman Gwen Flowers-Taylor, who was the subject of the last ethics hearing, and who was found to not be in violation, proposed making changes, which the commissioners discussed earlier this month at their retreat and a workshop on this and other matters.
The second and final reading of the changes is scheduled for March 4, and at that meeting the commissioners will provide or restate their three appointments each to serve on the board, should it need to be convened again.
The five changes include a definition of the term “official acts” which once approved would be defined as acts taken in the course of a member of the Board of Commissioners capacity as an elected member of the board. Any act taken in the performance of duties of such a commissioner shall be deemed an official act.
A definition of the review board is also being added, at Flowers-Taylor’s request. The board will be defined as “the five citizens who are chosen to conduct a public hearing based upon the complaint of unethical conduct by a commissioner.”
Also in the proposed changes, the following, under Text of Ethical Considerations, Section 2-1203(8) will be removed in its entirety, that a covered official of Spalding County shall “never engage in other conduct which is unbecoming to an official or which constitutes a breach of public trust.”
Another proposed change is to not make it a violation to owe funds or penalties related to election financial reporting, since due to the problems on the state end with notification, all of the commissioners were in violation at some point. The recommended change makes it a violation only if the fines have not been paid within 90 days of notice of the fines.
Other changes include nominees only be citizens of the county, not residents of the specific commission district of the nominating commissioner. The way members are selected will also change with two names for each commissioner to be drawn, with the first being the member and the second being the alternate. Currently the names are drawn, following exclusion of the nominees of the accused commissioner, with the first three drawn to serve and alternates selected in the order drawn from the next names selected.