The changes in the ethics ordinance came about as a result of the December hearing against County Commissioner Gwen Flowers-Taylor, who proposed the changes as did members of the Ethics Review Board. Flowers-Taylor was cleared of any ethics violations in the hearing, the only hearing the county has held since adopting the ordinance.
While she was under the weather and not at Monday’s meeting, the other four commissioners voted unanimously to approve the second and final reading, making the changes, which included some clarification as well as a change in the procedures, to address some of the issues that came up during the hearing.
The changes included a definition of the term “official acts” which are now 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 Ethics Review Board was also being added, with 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.”
Text of Ethical Considerations, Section 2-1203(8) was removed in its entirety. This was part of complaint against Flowers-Taylor but like the official acts, was not real clear, The portion removed included 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.”
The changes also removed the 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 change makes it a violation only if the fines have not been paid within 90 days of notice of the fines.
Nominee district requirements were also removed, with the only requirement now that they only be citizens of the county, not residents of the specific commission district of the nominating commissioner. The way members are selected also changed with two names for each commissioner to be drawn, with the first being the member and the second being the alternate.
At Monday’s meeting, each commissioner present also nominated or restated their three appointments for nominees to the Ethics Review Board, should the board need to be convened again. Pursuant to county code, the appointments are subject to each nominee being verified as a registered Spalding County voter.
• Commissioner Chipper Gardner nominated Kim Slaughter, Johnie McDaniel and Kathy Noble.
• Commissioner Raymond Ray nominated Jesse Bradley, Tootsie Powers and David Castille.
• Commissioner Rita Johnson nominated Mamie Harris-Smith, Katie Pasch and Rodney McCord.
• Commissioner Bart Miller nominated Henry Sims, Freda Mace and Ed Brown.
Flowers-Taylor will be asked to make her appointments at the next scheduled meeting.