Mayor Bentley said he hopes the decision sends a message to the public in how serious Council is about the ethics ordinance.
“We are serious as the public is in expecting elected officials ... and others covered in the ordinance ... to adhere to ethical behavior and elected officials are held to a higher standard. We are also sending a message to future elected officials and appointees that we expect them to act in an ethical manner,” Bentley said. “Mr. Joiner was a colleague of ours so this wasn’t a very pleasant process. We felt like it was necessary and acted with what we felt was our responsibility to the public.”
Fields said the reason she filed the complaint was to “hold our elected officials accountable to the people they represent.”
“I’m glad this is over. [Joiner] is no longer a Councilman after Dec. 31, so this no longer is about him; it’s about setting a precedent so others know not to misuse taxpayer money,” she said. “To assume that I’m happy that he was not re-elected is a joke. It’s not about who was in office; it was about how they treated the office and the constituents while they were there.”
During Thursday’s called meeting, Joiner’s attorney Donald Oulsnam urged Council to not take action on allegations or events that took place before March 27, 2012, when the board of ethics was enacted.
“The biggest problem with the findings about the board of ethics is the same argument I’ve made to them twice at their two meetings. You should not consider the first three allegations because those events took place prior to March 27, which is prior to when the city enacted a city ethics ordinance that created the board and set forth the prohibitions,” he said. “If the city is to take any action on any event that took place prior to March 27, you would be violating … the Georgia Constitution. I don’t want my city government punishing someone that was not unlawful.”