County ap­proves changes to the struc­ture of the ethics com­mit­tee

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - SJ Edi­tor

Polk County’s Ethics Com­mit­tee is get­ting some up­dates af­ter com­mis­sion­ers de­cided it was time to bal­ance out the mem­ber­ship and make changes to the three-mem­ber panel that de­cides whether ac­tions taken lo­cally vi­o­late ethics prin­ci­ples and rules on the books.

Com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved the new up­date, which mainly fo­cuses on al­low­ing for the board to choose a more bal­anced mem­ber­ship on the three-per­son panel.

Made up of cit­i­zens ap­pointed to two year terms, the ethics com­mit­tee only sits when a ethics vi­o­la­tion has been brought to their at­ten­tion, and then de­cides whether a vi­o­la­tion has oc­curred.

All the mem­ber­ship up last week was made up of a trio of cit­i­zens from Dis­trict 1, but now that pol­icy will change.

“The prob­lem is that the way it was setup, there is no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of dis­trict rep­re­sen­ta­tion. You can end up with all the rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the ethics com­mit­tee com­ing from one dis­trict,” Com­mis­sion chair Jen­nifer Hulsey said. “Now there’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion from all the dis­tricts.”

In pre­vi­ous ver­sions of the county’s or­di­nance gov­ern­ing the ethics com­mit­tee (and still avail­able on Mu­ni­code,) com­mit­tee ap­point­ments were made up of mem­bers who were ap­pointed by the com­mis­sion chair, one by the board of com­mis­sion­ers, and a third ap­pointed by a com­bi­na­tion of the two com­mit­tee mem­bers to de­cide on ethics is­sues.

Now the two com­mis­sion­ers from each dis­trict will get to choose who serves in­stead.

I n mov­ing f or­ward with the new rules in place dur­ing their April ses­sion, Com­mis­sion­ers Chuck Thax­ton and Chair Jen­nifer Hulsey an­nounced they had al­ready found some­one to serve from Dis­trict 2.

The nom­i­nated and the board unan­i­mously ap­proved Jody Smith of Cedar­town from Dis­trict 2 to serve a two-year term.

The county is ex­pect­ing vote on new mem­bers se­lected in May from Dis­tricts 1 and 3, Hulsey said.

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