MILLEDGEVILLE — It has been an uplifting experience to learn how the members of this community are responding to the city council’s apparent violation of the State’s Sunshine Law and their violation of ethics. Numerous Letters to the Editor of the newspaper are corroborated by the conversations that are taking place throughout the community. Happily, the leaders of various local organizations are urging their members to take the council to task for their egregious violation of the First (Freedom of Speech) Amendment to our Constitution and their violation of accepted norms of ethical behavior.
To recall the issue: Specifically, members of the council and the city manager supported retaliation to a business in this city because of a letter published in the local newspaper that was critical of the council. The level of retaliation was $5 million. The published account in the newspaper was taken from a recording of the council’s meeting in which they clearly advocated retaliation because of the published criticism. Their violation was compounded by advocating destruction (by shredding) the evidence that demonstrated their culpability. It should be pointed out that this was not an isolated incident. Recently, one member of the city council publically stated that she would eliminate the Oconee River Greenway and the Old Capital Museum from the city budget as a result of the perceived support rendered to a potential housing development. What is ludicrous in all of this is that several members of the council are more concerned about the source of reporting their illicit actions than they are about correcting (and apologizing for) their behavior. Of course, this coincides with Ms. Shinholster’s unfortunate mis-definition of integrity as “…doing the right thing when people are watching.” I would surmise from her statement that when people are not watching, anything goes. Further, it is unfortunate that the elected leader of the community, Mayor Bentley, has been silent on this issue.