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Complaints hold up ethics appointment
No quorum until matter resolved
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Forsyth County News

 

It remains unclear how long it will be before the most recent nominee to the Forsyth County Board of Ethics will take the post.

The county's civil service board discussed the situation involving its recommended candidate during a meeting Thursday.

Charity Clark, the panel’s clerk, explained that the county commission on Wednesday postponed a vote on the appointment of Lorne Twiner. The commission must approve the recommendation to make it official.

According to Clark, the five-member commission could not vote on the matter because there are ethics complaints against three commissioners -- Pete Amos, Patrick Bell and Brian Tam. As a result, there would not be a quorum.

Clark said the commission could vote on Twiner’s appointment once the complaints have been resolved.

The ethics board is expected to review the complaints next week.

They were filed by resident Terry Sweeney, who contends he saw a quorum, or at least three members, of the county commission at Cumming City Hall in February.

The commissioners had not provided public notice or an agenda for a meeting.

The gathering of a quorum for a meeting without due public notice is a violation of the state's open meetings act.

The complaints were filed prior to the commission's recent changes to the local ethics ordinance. As a result, they will not be subject to any penalties if eventually deemed frivolous.

Sweeney has also filed a complaint on the same issue with the state Office of the Attorney General.

In its response to the state complaint, the county has denied the contention that Amos, Bell and Tam violated the open meetings act. It asserts they just happened to pass each other in the lobby after being “separately and independently” invited to hear a presentation.

The ethics board needs a new member after George Pirkle, the civil service board’s previous representative on the five-person panel, stepped down in February.

The county commissioner and local bar association each appoint one member to the local ethics board, as do the county’s elected officials other than the commission.

A fifth member is appointed by a majority of voting employees in the county.