The Thomaston City Council approved changes to a city ordinance that will allow them to remain a certified City of Ethics in Georgia. The action came at their meeting on Dec. 18.
In 1998 the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) established a City of Ethics program to encourage its members to act ethically and to provide a means for city residents to question the ethics of their elected officials, if they chose to do so.
The City of Thomaston has been a certified City of Ethics for some years, but City Attorney Joel Bentley told the council the city is up for renewal and that the GMA was requesting the city make some minor changes to its ethics ordinance in order to conform with the GMA ethics ordinance and be recertified as a City of Ethics.
“I have before you some minor changes to our existing Code of Ethics,” said Bentley. “Nothing of import other than one minor change – you used to be able to do a private reprimand of a public official. At this point they have asked us to change that so that any reprimand of a public official would be a public reprimand. I also added a provision that allows for the body at large to call for a public official to resign from office. That is the major substantive change. We also deleted a provision that allowed the public body to censure candidates for elected office. I believe that is somewhat problematic from the 1st Amendment standpoint. Having said all that, it is my recommendation that you adopt the revisions to the ordinance, and to adopt a resolution.
Council member Patsy Perdue made a motion to adopt the changes to the city ordinance as recommended by Bentley. Mayor pro tem Doug Head seconded the motion and it was approved, 4-0. Council member Gary Atwater was absent.
Bentley requested that after he read the resolution, that the council members vote individually to approve the resolution.
“I understand that one of our council members is not here, however I am well aware that he would be all in favor of this resolution” said Bentley. “I speak to the public and also to the body about that.”
Bentley read the resolution, which states in part that City of Thomaston officials will serve others, not themselves, use resources with efficiency and economy, treat all people fairly, use the power of our position for the well-being of our constituents, and create an environment of honesty, openness and integrity.
Following the reading of the resolution, the four council members present and the mayor voted individually to approve the resolution.