The Union Recorder

Local News

December 6, 2013

Councilman Joiner asked to resign, reimburse city

(Continued)

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Fields reiterated to Council members the reason she filed the ethics complaint was not election-related.

“What I expect is a precedent to be set that deters someone from doing it again,” Fields said before Council and mayor deliberated in executive session for more than an hour. “[Joiner] should be censured even though there’s one meeting left, and he should pay the money back for the Des Moines [Iowa] trip; I don’t know if it’s legal, but I hope it would be.”

Fields filed the ethics complaint against Joiner in May. In it Fields waged allegations of unethical behavior against Joiner, which resulted in the city’s ethics board ruling that the Councilman violated two subsections of the city’s ethics ordinances.

The board called witnesses and received additional documentation during the proceedings, which spanned sessions in August.

The board found Joiner to be in violation of the ordinance that includes “all public funds shall be used for the general welfare of the people and not for personal economic gain.” The other ordinance the board ruled Joiner did not comply with reads, “no city official shall draw travel funds or per diem from the city for attendance at meetings, seminars, training or other educational events and fail to attend such events without promptly reimbursing the city therefore.”

The hearing concluded Wednesday, Aug. 28. The ethics board wrote up its findings for the mayor and Council including its recommendation. The city’s ethics ordinance states “the decision of the board of ethics shall be rendered to mayor and aldermen within seven calendar days after completion of the final hearing.” In October, city attorney Jimmy Jordan said the transcript from the proceedings had been delayed, resulting in the city officials’ inability to move forward on the matter.

“The record in this is quite voluminous. Once the ethics board delivered findings to the mayor and aldermen, we felt it was prudent to give them ample opportunity to review the record. Based on that timeframe, this was the next available time we could get the mayor and Council together as an elected body for this special called meeting,” said Jordan. “The three members of the ethics board dedicated a lot of their time, were extremely well prepared at the hearings, and were very diligent in their deliberations. The City of Milledgeville is very fortunate those individuals are serving on this ethics board.”

City Manager Barry Jarrett will deliver a certified copy of Council’s resolution to Joiner Friday.

Council’s last meeting of the year is slated for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at city hall.

“I’m terribly disappointed in their decision,” Joiner said. “It’s kind of sad, but I know they have to do what’s best for them and keep the city’s reputation intact. I understand, but I don’t agree.”

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