Government

More News | | | Editor

Augusta Commission adopts revised conflict-of-interest policy

Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 2:32 PM
Last updated 9:28 PM
  • Follow Government

A Georgia private investigator selected by the president of the Augusta Bar Association will conduct a formal investigation if any member of the Augusta Commission, a city employee or the mayor is suspected of an ethical violation, according to a revised conflict-of-interest policy formally adopted by the commission Tuesday.

The new policy, developed by a city subcommittee after allegations surfaced last year that three commissioners had provided services to the government under city contracts, passed its second reading Tuesday by a 6-1 vote. The three commissioners – Grady Smith, Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle – abstained, and Commissioner Bill Lockett was opposed.

Commissioner Donnie Smith, the chairman of the subcommittee, said it was incumbent on the commission to develop a procedure for investigating a complaint because none existed in the city’s policy, leaving members of government to investigate their own.

The policy bars any employee or public official from “transacting any business” or participating in a procurement contract at any level – whether as a prime contractor, subcontractor, supplier, consultant or vendor – if the official or an immediate family member has a substantial or financial interest in the contract. Among a handful of other revisions, the policy prohibits the commission from granting case-by-case exceptions.

Lockett said he feared placing a request for an investigation on a meeting agenda would subject the suspected party to the type of public discourse the commission has recently committed to avoid.

“We are putting ourselves in a precarious position,” Lockett said.

If six commissioners vote to seek a formal investigation, the investigator is asked to provide within 45 days a written report and an opinion about the suspected violation. The commission, with six votes, will make a final determination.

The revised policy includes the same sanctions of a public censure or reprimand, but adds suspension from participating in the procurement process for five years if the official or employee is deemed in violation.

Comments (21) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Cameron Poe
879
Points
Cameron Poe 09/04/13 - 03:12 pm
9
0
No, Mr Lockett those who are

No, Mr Lockett those who are acting unethically are putting us all in a precarious situation. Maintain the standard of ethics that is required of you as a commissioner and you will have no worries. Act unethically and well you get what you get. And for the record, we citizens don't want to hear "I didn't know I couldn't do that."

nocnoc
42555
Points
nocnoc 09/04/13 - 04:31 pm
6
0
Ok IF, we are moving forward with a clean slate.

Question:
What if charges brought against a commissioners are shown to be false and or politically based blackmail. How will those making accusations politically based, or outright lies be handled? Will the same punishment be applied to the slime doing so?

There needs to be a fairness check and balance.

corgimom
32364
Points
corgimom 09/04/13 - 04:28 pm
4
1
Blah blah, blah blah blah.

Blah blah, blah blah blah.

Well, now you know why Lockett did the about-face.

nocnoc
42555
Points
nocnoc 09/04/13 - 04:31 pm
6
0
1 More thing

Passed just in time for the upcoming NFL season.

Free tickets, drinks, trips, family member consulting fees and graft are covered also correct?

Pops
8395
Points
Pops 09/04/13 - 05:58 pm
6
1
So, in other words.......

"The revised policy includes the same sanctions of a public censure or reprimand, but adds suspension from participating in the procurement process for five years if the official or employee is deemed in violation."

Nothing will be gained......lot of money and time will be spent......

GnipGnop
12234
Points
GnipGnop 09/04/13 - 08:08 pm
4
2
You will never see

an investigation because either side will be scared of the other side

Riverman1
83887
Points
Riverman1 09/04/13 - 08:20 pm
5
1
Do Box Seats Go With the Job?

I have great trepidation about the Commission voting to approve anti-graft measures. They may feel box seats in Atlanta go with the job. I won't even get into the consultant fees for cousins.

GnipGnop
12234
Points
GnipGnop 09/04/13 - 08:59 pm
5
1
That's just like

thinking any of them would ever vote against anything the National wants. Huge conflict of interest!

dichotomy
32911
Points
dichotomy 09/04/13 - 10:16 pm
5
1
Don't you think you could

Don't you think you could have included gifted skybox tickets and unreported campaign contributions by people pandering for COUNTY CONTRACTS under this new system.

We really don't need a private investigator if we could get the local news media to do THEIR JOBS. And as for punishment....I think the voters should handle that with sticks and bats AT THE COMMISSION MEETING. We are sick of two faced commissioners pointing fingers at other people while taking graft and selling their votes to the contractors with the most perks........THAT'S RIGHT MR. SKYBOX....I'M TALKING ABOUT YOU.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/05/13 - 06:36 am
5
0
Truly professional people
Unpublished

Truly professional people should be able to police themselves.

corgimom
32364
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 08:24 am
2
1
Grown adults should know

Grown adults should know right from wrong by now.

Little Lamb
45989
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 08:46 am
3
1
It's My Due

Susan McCord posted a link to a PDF of the new ordinance. Here is part of one of the provisions:

Sec. 1-1-23-(a)-(1) An employee or public official, or any other person on his or her behalf, is prohibited from knowingly accepting and retaining, directly or indirectly, a gift from a lobbyist, vendor, or any other person seeking to influence official action.

Riverman is correct. Many people enter the "public service" arena because they desire to receive these perks of sporting events tickets, meals at fancy restaurants, trips to resort areas, cash under the table, etc. With the censure of Commissioners Guilfoyle, Jackson, and Grady Smith, I suspect we have already seen the last ethics ordinance action. You will never get six commissioners to vote to hire a private investigator to investigate another commissioner in the foreseeable future.

Riverman1
83887
Points
Riverman1 09/05/13 - 08:55 am
2
1
When the Investigator Will Be Hired

LL, what I suspect is they will only hire an investigator for a particular incident. And you are right, that will take 6 votes. So nothing will happen until the racial make-up goes one up on one side. Once that happens the side with fewer votes better tread carefully...and we know who that will be.

corgimom
32364
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 09:00 am
2
1
Big deal, a censure. Yeah,

Big deal, a censure.

Yeah, that'll get them to change their ways, alright.

Little Lamb
45989
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 10:03 am
0
1
Investigator

Yes, RM, I didn't mean to imply that they would keep an investigator on retainer all the time. The investigator is to be hired to investigate only a single allegation, and he is to turn in his report within 45 days.

Here's a question I have about the gifts: If a lobbyist picks up a commissioner and his spouse at his home in a limousine and drives the couple to Atlanta with refreshments in the car; and the lobbyist then escorts the commissioner and his spouse to a sky box at the Georgia Dome to watch the Falcons play the Ravens while enjoying a gourmet buffet in the sky box; has the commissioner received a gift? When the game is over, the commissioner has nothing tangible.

Is entertainment, food and beverage a gift?

Little Lamb
45989
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 10:06 am
2
1
On the other hand

Now, Masters Tournament badges are something tangible. You can sell them.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 09/05/13 - 10:12 am
1
0
Wine for Dinner

Little Lamb, if I come over for dinner and bring a bottle of wine, did we not both receive a gift? Food, beverage, and free tickets are a gift. The question will hinge on influence to offical action.

Riverman1
83887
Points
Riverman1 09/05/13 - 02:24 pm
0
0
LL, stop making trouble.

LL, stop making trouble. :)

Has anyone ever seen a commissioner at the Masters even though they are given tickets?

Riverman1
83887
Points
Riverman1 09/05/13 - 03:46 pm
0
0
It's Bribery

"and free tickets are a gift"

When the value of the tickets is in the hundreds of dollars, it's bribery in my opinion. Taking that kind of gift dictates a return favor. Where do you draw the line? Could someone doing business with the city just give a thousand dollars to a commissioner?

corgimom
32364
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 03:47 pm
1
0
My dog Toby gets more upset

My dog Toby gets more upset when I tell him to stop barking, than a commissioner that is censured.

Riverman1
83887
Points
Riverman1 09/05/13 - 04:06 pm
0
0
State Employees Limited to $25 Gifts

GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:

Gifts and Gratuities All employees are prohibited from accepting gifts with a value that exceeds $25.00
Gifts. A gift is defined as anything of value exceeding $25.00.
All employees and the employee’s family members may not accept any gift from anyone that the employee or the agency interacts with on official state business or from any prohibited source. Gifts include, but are not limited to,
Food (including meals)
Lodging
Personal Services
Gratuities
Subscriptions
Memberships
Trips
Loans
Advances
Tickets (tickets to a series of events, such as sporting events or concert series should be calculated as the total cost of the series)

Darby
25635
Points
Darby 09/05/13 - 06:36 pm
1
1
"to watch the Falcons play the Ravens while

enjoying a gourmet buffet in the sky box; has the commissioner received a gift?"

.
That depends.... who won the game???

Back to Top

Top headlines

2.1% inflation expected

ATLANTA -- Business executives in the Southeast see inflation a little higher than the Federal Reserve does, according to a survey released Friday.
Search Augusta jobs