The Union Recorder

August 17, 2013

Ethics board preps for hearing

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Milledgeville Ethics Board met Friday for pre-hearing preparation.

The hearing for the ethics complaint filed against City Councilman Phillip Joiner, District 4, by local downtown business owner Danielle Fields will continue as scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal courtroom at the Milledgeville Police Department located at 125 E. McIntosh St.

“They wanted to have a meeting prior to the meeting to get organized and know the order of our witnesses and so forth,” City Attorney Jimmy Jordan said Friday morning prior to the ethics pre-hearing. “We are going to review that and really just try to get an understanding. These folks have never participated in these types of hearings.”

Jordan said the board would review the investigation Friday. So far certain board members have done initial interviews with city officials to determine what the city’s policies and procedures are on some of the issues raised in the complaint.

During the Tuesday hearing, Fields and Joiner have the right to submit evidence and call witnesses.

Jordan said the three-member panel wants the proceedings to run respectfully.

“One of the things they are most concerned about is they want this to be an orderly fact finding process and not people yelling and screaming at each other,” Jordan said.

Findings will pass on to Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley and Council for action based solely on the presence of a discernible ethics violation.

The ethics board will take evidence and issue one three recommendations to Council. Those include take no action, publicly censure Joiner or ask for resignation.

The board of ethics initially scheduled the hearing Tuesday, July 16, but delayed the proceedings after Joiner’s attorney, Donald Oulsnam of Frier & Oulsnam in Milledgeville, requested for a continuance.

The board of ethics is moving forward with two of the three allegations within the complaint that were within the ordinance, including allegations against Joiner regarding wasteful spending, lack of timely compliance with Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) mandated training, neglect of courses paid for by the City of Milledgeville and expenditures in conjunction with Main Street conference in Des Moines, Iowa in May 2011.

The city’s code of ethics relates to travel, representation and business dealings of city employees, elected officials, appointees and volunteers with the purpose to encourage high ethical standards in official conduct, while also setting guidelines, seeking disclosure and providing terms of discipline for those who refuse to abide by the policy’s terms. The City of Milledgeville officially became a GMA City of Ethics in June 2012.