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Forsyth BOC Makes Sweeping Changes in Ethics Ordinance

The old Forsyth County Ethics Board has been disbanded. The new board will be chosen from a pool of randomly selected, out-of-county attorneys who practice in the area of civil law.


The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners made sweeping changes to the Ethics Ordinance at Thursday's meeting.

In an effort to remove even the appearance of a conflict of interest, commissioners voted unanimously to disband the current Ethics Board and replace it with a three-member ad hoc committee made up of out-of county attorneys.

In changing the makeup of the Ethics Board, commissioners also struck down the "wrongful use" section of the ordinance that imposed a penalty on citizens who file what is deemed to be a "frivolous" complaint.

The section drew fire from critics who claimed its intent was to intimidate anyone considering filing a complaint.

In the future, each ethics complaint will trigger the formation of a new three-member ethics board to be made up of three out-of-county attorneys experienced in civil law. Once that board hears a complaint and renders a decision, it is disbanded. The next complaint then triggers the formation of a new board.

During a brief recess in last night's meeting, County Attorney Ken Jarrard explained how the selection process would work.

"First, the county will create a pool of attorneys with a civil practice background," he said. "Then we'll begin making phone calls and try and make a list of those who are qualified."

After that, choosing a board could be as simple as placing the names into a bowl, shaking it up and letting the county manager or ethics board clerk randomly choose three names.

District 3 Commissioner Patrick Bell, who proposed the changes, said, "This makes it a totally neutral board. As it is now, local citizens are appointed and it puts them in a really difficult position because they may be called on to decide ethics cases against people they go to church with or are in Rotary or Kiwanis with."

In other business, the widening of Castleberry Road to a four-lane divided highway, which had been opposed by many, was effectively placed on hold.

Although the project has been in the planning since 2003 and included in the project list of SPLOST V, VI and VII, Commissioner Todd Levent said the heavy volume of traffic that had been projected did not materialize and that widening to four lanes is no longer necessary.

"Based on the traffic studies and technical information I have reviewed, I don't believe the existing traffic volumes on Castleberry Road justify the expense and impact of a 4-lane divided highway," said Commissioner Todd Levent.

Levent's motion to block any attempt to widen the road until a new traffic study had been completed, the results have been made available to the public and a new a public hearing is held passed unanimously.

TELL US: What do you think about the changes coming regarding a "new" Ethics Board?

Special K November 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
" . . . commissioners voted unanimously to disband the current Ethics Board and replace it with a three-member ad hoc committee made up of out-of county attorneys.. . ." Presumably they assumed not that outside attorneys are more ethical, but they lacking inside connections they'll be less prone to have to yield to temptation.
Special K November 18, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Anyhow, enjoy this BRIGHT SUNSHINY DAY - YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKaT5uG80Ts
Kenneth Stepp November 18, 2012 at 05:20 PM
This will be interesting to watch.
Steve Phillps November 19, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Ethics Board made up of lawyers? Thanks I needed a laugh today

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