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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What happened to Snellville's ethics ordinance?

Snellville City Council members voted against the ethics ordinance last night. That sounds like our city council is against ethical behavior,  if you don't know the whole story.

The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) applies a designation to cities in Georgia as "Cities of Ethics." It was previously believed that Snellville would lose its City of Ethics designation if the city did not have a new ethics ordinance in place. Council Member Kelly Kautz brought the measure forward and postponed the vote on the issue over the course of the last few Snellville City Council meetings.

Several other council members were concerned about loopholes in the ordinance, knowing that after their service on council was over, this ordinance would remain on the books for years to come. They wanted to be sure that an "Ethics Ordinance" could not be used un-ethically as a tool in power struggles among council members. Ironically, an ethics ordinance can be misused by citizens or council members with an axe to grind, if it's not set up correctly with safeguards.

Kautz presented  all the details of her research, explaining how the ethics ordinance could be set up in order to assuage the concerns of the dissenting council members. Kautz mentioned the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioner's debacle, saying if the Gwinnett BOC had an ethics ordinance it could have been prevented. (Personally, I don't think crooks give a damn about an ethics ordinance, so it wouldn't have made any difference).

After completing her outline, it was Council Member Tod Warner's turn to speak. Warner said he called the Gwinnett Municipal Association and spoke to Susan Moore, the person in charge of the ethics program at the Association. Ms. Moore told Warner that what we already have in place would suffice, but that Snellville should put it in ordinance format to insure there is no loss of ethics protection in times of political turn-over.  Every year or two, the Snellville City Council should re-approve the ethics ordinance.

So, all this hullabaloo and research was unnecessary. All it took was one smart person (Tod Warner) to make a phone call. Again, we learn that the best solution is often the simplest.


  1. Tom Witts, Snellville City Council11:45 AM

    Although I was unable to attend the meeting last night, thanks to Delta Airlines, I completely concur with your appraisal of the Ethics Ordinance for the City of Snellville. The proposed ordinance was 19 pages long. (9 to 10 pages longer than the US constitution). I applaud my colleagues for having the foresight to take the time to make sure that the Ethics ordinance that will eventually be put in place will be thorough, concise and easily implemented.

  2. Jerome12:01 PM

    You're right, crooks don't give a damn about ethics. Image:Yes-Ethics:No.


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