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Ethics board to consider complaints Tuesday
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

Forsyth County’s ethics board includes:

• David Van Sant, appointed by Forsyth County Bar Association

• Tim Perry, appointed by the majority of county elected officials, but not the commission

• Rusty Ricketson, appointed by the majority vote of county employees

• Bob Charles, appointed by the county commission

• Vacant – civil service board appointee

The Forsyth County Board of Ethics is expected this week to review complaints filed against three county commissioners.

During a meeting Friday, the four-member panel appointed resident Ernest Turner to serve as an alternate during the investigatory review, which it set for noon Tuesday at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex.

The complaints were filed in April by former political candidate Terry Sweeney against Commissioners Pete Amos, Patrick Bell and Brian Tam.

Sweeney contends the commissioners’ presence on the same day and time in February at Cumming City Hall constituted a quorum.

He maintains they violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act because the five-member commission didn’t provide public notice or an agenda regarding the gathering.

The assembling of a quorum for a meeting without due public notice is a violation of the act.

Bob Charles, acting ethics board chairman, worked with Turner in 2007 and 2008 on a committee to determine projects for the extension of the 1-cent sales tax, approved in February 2008.

Turner will act in place of ethics board member Tim Perry, who recused himself in May from involvement regarding the complaint against Amos.

The ethics board has been short one member since George Pirkle, the civil service board’s appointee on the panel, resigned in February. Pirkle’s replacement cannot be appointed until the county commission can vote on the matter.

That vote has been postponed until the matters involving Amos, Bell and Tam have been resolved.

Bell has said he was entering the building as Amos and Tam were leaving and that Commissioner Todd Levent arrived about 20 minutes later.

The commissioners were at the facility that day for separate and informal discussions with Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt about a possible referendum on further extending the 1-cent sales tax, Bell has said.

No official action was reportedly taken during any of the talks.

In 2008, Sweeney ran for the District 5 post on the commission, but fell short in the Republican primary.

He filed a complaint over the same matter with the Georgia Attorney General’s Office.

In its response to the attorney general, the county has denied any violation of the open meetings act occurred, characterizing the incident at city hall as a chance encounter.