At 2nd meeting, volunteers grapple with reworking ethics rules
The Fayette County Citizens’ Ethics Ordinance Committee held its second meeting July 23 to hammer out needed changes to the Fayette County Ethics Ordinance. The committee formed three working groups that will submit their findings in mid-August.
The committee’s upcoming work is in response to the assertion by county commissioners that the current ethics ordinances are inadequate, poorly written and open to abuse. To correct that inadequacy, the commission asked the ethics committee to review the document, eliminate the opportunity for misuse and to arrive at a way to simplify and reflect the properly handling of ethics violations.
Committee member and county Commissioner Charles Oddo told the group there were two ethics ordinances in the past, one from 14 years ago and the current ordinance. He noted that both ordinances are in the one draft ethics ordinance.
Oddo said his concern is that the current ethics ordinance is too specific. He said there has to be something general enough to catch everything and specific enough to offer guidance.
Oddo suggested the committee plan how it should proceed, adding that there is no deadline involved in their charge.
Committee member Dawn Oparah suggested the committee might want to look at ethics ordinances from other communities as a guide to what the committee might develop. Committee members during the meeting noted a number of questions that should be addressed by the ordinance.
The discussion also included comments and opinions on aspects of the current ordinance and the 1999 ordinance.
One of the items of business had committee members compile suggestions for the committee and submit them the county attorney. To that end, the committee established three study groups to review the ordinance’s:
• purpose, scope and definitions;
• board of ethics, receipt of complaints, service of a complaint, right to appeal and penalties;
• prohibition and conflict of interest.
Committee members include Oddo, Oparah, Angela Hinton Fonda, Wayne Kendall, Scott Fabricius, Arnold Martin and Charles Rousseau.
The committee will submit its findings by Aug. 14.
The July 23 meeting was the second held by the committee that was formed in late May.