Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 10

ISSUE FOCUS: COUNTY GOVERNMENT 101

Ethics on the

Staying Away

By Ken Jarrard, Esq.
Jarrard & Davis, LLP
YEARS AGO, early in my career, I attended
a meeting with an elected official. During
the course of the meeting, another official
ducked their head into our meeting room.
Almost immediately the officials began discussing the pros and cons of an upcoming
zoning. There was no quorum-so typically
this would not have been a concern, except
for the fact that one of the officials had
previously recused. Certain that this lapse
in protocol was inadvertent, I explained to
both officials that recusal involved more
than simply not taking a vote at the public
meeting. Recusal, I clarified,
meant disqualifying yourself
from the entire deliberative and
policy-making process, to include
the sort of informal discussion that
was taking place immediately in front
of me. Believing my dissertation to be
persuasive, I waited for the recused official to recognize his error and shut down
the conversation.
Instead, I was asked to leave the room so
the discussion could continue. True story.
The incident above is the exception. In
almost all situations since, my guidance on
ethical issues has been well received and
acted upon. However, I learned a lesson in that
10

GEORGIA COUNTY GOVERNMENT

encounter which, I suppose, is self-evident.
Officials choose to be ethical, with an emphasis on choose. Ethical propriety is not passive-it is active. It is a conscious, deliberate
decision made in advance to make the ethical
choice. That is what is expected of elected
officials in Georgia.
There is likely no subject in government law
that is as widely embraced, yet less understood, than ethical compliance within the
context of local government. Having practiced
law for almost 25 years, and representing local
governments for roughly the same period, I
stand steadfast in my belief that 99.9 percent
of elected and appointed officials aspire to
be ethical (save for my previous example).
However, as with all things, the devil is in the
details and some elected officials do not have
a sufficient appreciation for the nuances of
ethical propriety.
State law provides some ethical guidance in the zoning context. For instance,
O.C.G.A. 36-67A-2 makes clear that elected
officials facing zoning decisions are required
to promptly disqualify themselves if they
have a financial or property interest in the
subject matter of a zoning or if they have
a family member with an equivalent interest. That sort of a clear dividing line yields



Georgia County Government - Spring 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Spring 2019

President’s Message
Director's Desk
Ethics on the Edge
Avoid Property Tax Increases by Managing Revenues
EPD’s STAR Program Keeps Georgia Counties and Rights-of-Ways Clean
2019 ACCG Annual Conference Preview
College Underserved Community Partnership Program
Hurricane Michael: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Working with Hard-to-Count Communities
Reduce the Friction with a County-Wide Community Development System
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Intro
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover1
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover2
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 3
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 4
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 5
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 6
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - President’s Message
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 8
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Director's Desk
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Ethics on the Edge
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 11
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 12
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 13
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Avoid Property Tax Increases by Managing Revenues
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 15
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - EPD’s STAR Program Keeps Georgia Counties and Rights-of-Ways Clean
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 17
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 2019 ACCG Annual Conference Preview
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 19
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - College Underserved Community Partnership Program
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 21
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Hurricane Michael: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 23
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 24
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Working with Hard-to-Count Communities
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 26
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 27
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 28
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 29
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 30
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Reduce the Friction with a County-Wide Community Development System
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 32
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - News & Notes
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover3
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover4
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