Saturday, November 14, 2015

Updated: City Council To Get Additional Ethics Training

Fairhope, Alabama

(Updated Sunday @ 9AM)


Mayor Kant announced recently that a joint meeting is being scheduled to provide more training for the city council and planning commission  regarding state Open Meeting Act ("transparency") laws -- intended to insure the public and media full access to all government deliberations.

The state Ethics Commission (click) is now enforcing violations, which were given more "teeth" earlier in the year by the state legislature, according to the mayor.

For about the past year, various Times reporters have been documenting and reporting numerous actual/possible/probable violations by both groups and most of the city's committees, boards and authorities operating under the mayor and council: various other types of discrepancies have been noticed as well.

Airport Authority
We are often the only news organization present to represent the public at many of the meetings.

These extra-legal practices (as well as involvement in "politics") put city employees who are required to participate in impossibly "stressful" situations at times, according to informed sources.

When more than one individual is involved in a deliberate act of this kind, federal conspiracy laws may apply as well.

(Also, anyone covered under state open meeting/ethics laws is obligated to report any violations observed to the applicable authorities: failure to do so becomes a violation in itself.)


Recreation Committee
When asked about it, some officials concede its not proper procedure -- but justify by "it has always been done that way here" and "you are the only one complaining."

One says the laws are designed only to be a "guide" -- and are intentionally left vague by state legislators so they can find ways around them themselves.

A serious one recently was the Airport Authority's failure to hold a meeting at the appointed place and time, where strategic planning for expanding the airport was discussed -- potentially using millions of federal, state, and local tax dollars. (Official minutes of the meeting confirmed the violation.)

The Recreation Committee has been another frequent offender where significant spending on future projects is often discussed in private.

part of the CBD committee
Additionally, both committees have personnel as members with conflict-of-interest issues that would normally exclude them from participating in every discussion and vote.

The Central Business District committee, a committee operating under the Planning Commission appointed to discus height and mixed-use ratio changes (commercial/residential) for downtown buildings, failed to announce all but one of its meetings over the past year or two.

Mayor Kant: "Its only going to get worse ... if we don't address it now."


Anonymous said...

Transperancy Mayor Kant is not hard to accomplish.No more back room deals!Make sure you attend the classes and take Mike Ford with you.He also seems to miss understand what transperancy means!

Anonymous said...

It was never a high priority here . Better late than never i guess so.

Anonymous said...

I know all of them and go to church with one. They love Jesus an are good Christians and would not disobey laws on purpose I am sure.

It must be a lack of the training.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mayor Kant for real leadership!

Anonymous said...

It would be easy (very easy) to launch a personal attack against the powers that be in FH. But you've taken the high road FH Times. This is quality journalism! Keep up the good work, challenge the real issues and long live the 1st Amendment.

Anonymous said...

""it has always been done that way here" THIS is the problem.

Isn't Brewer on the recreation committee?

Anonymous said...

everybody in this pretentious town could use a refresher coarse.

Anonymous said...

The abuse got so bad at a place I worked at in Michigan the union told us to keep tape recorders going in our pockets all the time for our own protection.

Publisher said...

Diana Brewer is assigned to the Recreation Committee along with Mike Ford, but she has not attended meetings for many months.

Additionally, some of our readers who have attended over the years say they feel "un-welcomed" there.

Meetings are held in a room that had been posted for "employees only" until recently -- when the Times' recreation reporter observed that constituted another violation of the state's open public meeting laws.

Anonymous said...

This blog sucks.