All complaints against city officials are filed with the city clerk, who then delivers them to the city manager Barry Jarrett. No complaints are allowed against a person seeking election as a city official from qualifying through the final election certification to deter politically motivated submissions.
Once the proper form is received and signed under oath, a copy goes to the Board of Ethics, the mayor and alderman within a week.
According to the ethics code, the three-member board “shall review it to determine whether the complaint is unjustified, frivolous, patently unfounded or fails to state facts sufficient to invoke disciplinary jurisdiction of the city council.”
For those not dismissed, the Board of Ethics would then collect evidence and add the findings and results of its investigations to the complaint file. The group must hold a hearing within 60 days.
Any city official who is the subject of an inquiry will be notified of the allegations prior to the first hearing held by the Board of Ethics. The official has the right to submit evidence and call his or her own witnesses.
Findings pass on to council for action based solely on the presence of a discernable ethics violation.
“Our job would be to recommend a punishment,” Thrower said. “If we find there is no violation period, then we are done.”
The rules allow for the censure of an official, or council may ask for a resignation from office.
“We cannot remove anybody. The only way a person can be removed from their office is conviction, indictment or recall,” Bentley said. “The only thing we can do is a censure of some kind. It would be made part of the record. That's about as far as we can go.”
Thrower said so far there have been no referrals or need to meet.