Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ethics Committee sub-panel to disband?

You know how local officials like to appoint sub-committees and then you never hear back from them? Yeah, started thinking about that the other day.

Anyhoo, the Ethics Committee meets tomorrow. (There's not a whole lot going on.) But chairwoman Elaine Davis said she might ask for an update from a sub-panel or committee or whatever that the board put together a long time back to look into possible changes to its makeup. (Long sentence, I know.)

You see, Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs wanted to the committee to consist solely of county residents to avoid conflicts of interest among elected leaders. He also wanted to more clearly define just what the panel is supposed to preside over. And, he wanted the group to serve as a tool for elected officials who want to implement something but want to make sure it's not unethical first - for example, creating an unofficial office account or taking a trip paid for by the private sector.

Right now, the nine-member committee, which includes one commissioner and a Knox County Sheriff's Office representative, investigates ethics complaints regarding county business and employees. If it finds something amiss, it can refer the issue to the district attorney general for a further probe or to the county law director for a legal opinion or recommendation.

To make a long story short, I wrote a story in December 2010 about this issue – find it by clicking right smack here.

The committee formed a committee to look into these suggestions, blah, blah, blah and I don't think it ever met.

And now it looks like the board will disband it.

“We had too many other things going on,” Briggs told me the other day. “With the change in government about a year and a half ago (when the commission dropped from 19 to 11 members and a new county mayor took office), I don't think there has been a single incident that's come up.”

Briggs said he'd still like to see an all-resident board, but he'll hold off at this point, since there hasn't been too many referrals to the committee.

(All that's coming to my mind was that mess about whether a developer got some inside info on the Midway Business Park land, and he didn't bother showing up to the inquiry, which was kind of funny. In a way. But I digress.)

Speaking of which, what ever happened to that committee that was supposed to look into other ways to use the Midway land?

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