Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Panel meets to discuss ethics makeup

A small committee comprised of Knox County commissioners and Ethics Committee members met earlier today to kick around a couple ideas about the future makeup of the Ethics Committee and just how its members get selected.

Right now, it looks like they're leaning toward recommending (to the county commission) that the committee be comprised of non-commissioners and that local, non-partisan civic groups appoint the members.

The four-member subcommittee got the idea from Nashville-Davidson's ethics committee. Apparently over there, the local league of women voters organization, a couple of attorney bar associations, a trade and labor council and some other group that no one could remember appoints the membership.

But, could that cause a problem? Who picks the civic groups that cast the final picks?

Yeah. Big Circle.

Anyhoo, at this point, it's just discussion. The members, though, did agree to narrow down some official recommendations by next month, so they can actually vote.

And at least one suggestion tossed out there is to set one-term term limits on the committee.

As you might recall, the committee upset some folks awhile back when it opted to re-appoint a few members in what appeared to be a rigged contest. At least that's what some folks said. Whatever. It certainly didn't look good.

The thought is that if the panel has a one term limit – whether it's one year or four years – members won't reappoint themselves.

In addition, some on the subcommittee felt that it would be worth keeping some commissioners on the panel, if only for their institutional knowledge but that they would hold non-voting positions.

Currently, The committee is comprised of nine members, including one county commissioner appointed by the commission, a Knox County Sheriff's Office representative appointed by the sheriff and seven residents — three selected by the commission, two by the county mayor and two by the Ethics Committee. Members serve for three years.

The committee investigates ethics complaints regarding county business and employees. State lawmakers required counties to create such a group in the wake of Tennessee Waltz scandal.

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.

The panel will meet again next month to talk more.

No comments: