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Hall commission OKs ethics code
Board adopts code with single revision
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In other business

On Thursday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners

  • Approved a change order request for Brewster Crocker Architects for the design of the North Hall Library at Nopone Road.
  • Authorized the engineering division to proceed with the acquisition of right-of-way and easements and begin the bid process for construction of sidewalks along Old Athens Road.
Melissa Weinman

The Hall County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt an updated ethics code Thursday, finally ending a yearlong push for ethics reform.

At Thursday’s board meeting, the commission held the second reading and public hearing on the Association County Commissioners of Georgia ethics code.

The commission voted Jan. 28 to adopt the draft ethics code. In the time since, a citizen ethics committee composed of Douglas Aiken, Scott Gibbs and Tommy Sandoval tailored the code to Hall County and presented the changes to the commission.

The commission voted to adopt the code with one final amendment — to strike a clause that would require ethics complaints to be brought before the commission within six months of occurrence.

Commissioner Billy Powell said though he supports the new ethics code, he would have preferred adopting it in its original form because the association created the code for use in all of Georgia’s counties.

“I’ve said all along we don’t need to deviate from what ACCG recommends,” Powell said.

Commissioner Ashley Bell said the passage of the new ethics code is a major accomplishment.

Bell said he set out to reform county ethics when he was sworn into office more than a year ago.

“It took a lot longer than it should,” Bell said. “We finally have an ethics ordinance in this county that’s enforceable.”

The ethics code went through many different versions and about 15 motions, Bell estimates.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said.

Much of the trouble in creating a new ethics ordinance came down to the semantics of defining who would enforce ethics complaints and what qualified as a violation. The commission spent months discussing the ethical nature of going into for-profit business ventures with other politicians.

Hall is likely the first county to adopt the ACCG code; it is still in draft form.

“I suspect this one will be taken for a spin quite soon,” Bell said.

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