Commissioners revive ethics reform plans

Advisory committee to be reconstituted

— The Clayton County Board of Commissioners is taking another crack at implementing ethics reforms by reconvening a committee whose previous recommendations fell on deaf ears.

The commission voted unanimously Tuesday to reconstitute its dormant Ethics Advisory Committee, which was last formed six years ago and spent two years addressing ethics reforms for the county. That committee produced a 36-page recommendation for a new ethics code, and a nine-member board to enforce it, in March 2008 but the recommendations were never acted upon by county leaders.

Commission Vice-Chairman Michael Edmondson said those recommendations will be pulled off the shelf and dusted off by the new committee.

“I am glad that the tone of the commissioners is that we are now interested in adopting an ethics policy,” Edmondson said. “The intent of this board is reconstitute the ethics advisory board to review the previously submitted proposed ethics policy and make any changes as necessary.”

Commissioners are expected to appoint members to the seven-member committee next week. Chairman Jeff Turner will get to pick three members of the committee and each commissioner will get to appoint a member of their choosing under the terms of a resolution they approved this week.

Edmondson said recommendations from the committee could come as soon as 90 days after new members are formed, but Turner said the commission will let the committee takes its time to review the previous committee’s proposals.

“We’re not going to rush it because we want to make sure they are thorough in their process,” he said.

Turner said the commission may also make its own recommendations to “tweak” the findings if it feels that is necessary.

The reconstitution of the advisory committee is a step towards fulfilling a promise made by the commission’s newest members in December.

Just before Turner and Commissioner Shana Rooks took office, they said the convening of an ethics panel was one of their goals for their first terms in office.

Tuesday, Turner said history will not repeat itself and he expects the commission will adopt some form a recommendation that comes from the new advisory committee.

It will be important for the commission to take the recommendations seriously, he said.

“There is a need for ethics reform and we would not reconstitute it if our this board’s intentions were not follow through with it,” Turner said. “We’re going to reconstitute it and we’re going to take the recommendations and, in some form or fashion, we’re going to follow it ...

“We are definitely not going to have a board just for the sake of having a board.”