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December 3, 2013

City meets Thursday on ethics complaint

MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville City Council is scheduled to deliberate and possibly take action Thursday on the ethics complaint filed in the spring against District 4 Councilman Phillip Joiner.

City Council will convene in a called meeting at 4 p.m. today at city hall. The sole item on the agenda is “discussion, deliberation and possible action” on the ethics findings by the Milledgeville Board of Ethics. 

Local business owner Danielle Fields filed an ethics complaint against the Councilman 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, however, 

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. 

“Until we received the transcript of the final hearing, we could not forward it to the mayor and Council,” Jordan said in October. “We had a different court reporter for the final hearing so she may have had other jobs ahead.”

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.” 

The city’s ethics rules allow for the censure of an official, or Council may ask for a resignation from office. Joiner did not run for reelection to the District 4 seat. His term expires Dec. 31.

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