Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 12

ISSUE FOCUS: COUNTY GOVERNMENT 101
II. Engage in no business with the government, either directly or indirectly, which
is inconsistent with the conscientious
performance of his governmental duties.
One obvious take away is that the above
ethical standards do not lend themselves to
line drawing. Most of the above excerpted
concepts involve a degree of self-reflection
and introspection as part of the ethical
decision-making process. In other words, the
conscientious elected official, in reviewing the
ethical propriety of an act should be mindful

that the right ethical call may implicate multiple factors-some of which are subjective.
Such factors do not lend themselves to binary
decision-making. For instance, your official
conduct and actions must not be "inconsistent
with the conscientious performance of [your]
governmental duties." Quickly-name every
possible consideration that might play a role in
deciding whether you are conscientiously performing your governmental duties. Is it possible
that two elected officials might face the same
situation and arrive at a different conclusion

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as to whether conduct may undermine the performance of their duties? What does it mean
to 'undermine?'
What about, "never accept...favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by a reasonable person as influencing the
performance of his governmental duties." The
casual reader certainly knows what is intended.
Do not accept things of value when it appears
that you are receiving the things of value in order
to influence your official action. I have seen
officials quibble with the vagaries inherent in this
prohibition. I have heard an official remark, for
instance, that accepting a thing of value 'will not
influence me'-and, therefore, bottoms up. That
is not the standard. The standard is whether a
third party (a reasonable person) observing the
transaction would believe your independence
has been compromised by accepting the thing
of value. This third-party perspective is vital to
ethical decision-making.
As a practitioner in this area, I strongly recommend that local government officials view
ethical standards from a third-party perspective. In other words, an official should view a
possible conflict from the perspective of an
outsider looking in on the transaction. If an
outsider (a third party) was aware of all of the
information that gives rise to the ethical concern and was independently assessing your
decision-making (looking over your shoulder, as
it were), what would that individual believe was
appropriate? I have observed officials-even
when a fact pattern clearly mitigated toward
recusal-decide not to recuse, and rationalize
their decision based upon facts of which only
they were aware. If the objective of ethical propriety is to both make independent and impartial
decisions and also to increase confidence and
transparency in government, then making ethical 'calls' based upon information of which you
are in sole possession is not appropriate.
Finally, I offer a few final scenarios to round
out our discussion.
1. Campaign Rhetoric
A board member is elected to office based
upon campaign pledges of no growth or carefully managed growth. This elected official's
campaign rhetoric is pointed with respect
to the extent they will stand firmly against
additional development. Shortly after taking
office, a high-profile developer, armed with
a phalanx of attorneys, seeks an ambitious
zoning in this officials' district. A letter is
received from the attorneys for the developer


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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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