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Letter to the editor
There are better ways to fix ethics ordinance
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Forsyth County News


I spoke at the first public hearing on proposed changes to Forsyth’s Ethics Ordinance; two changes dealing mainly with limiting a citizen’s right to speak or petition their government for grievances, and adding stiff penalties for filing knowingly frivolous ethics complaints.

Does anyone else see a pattern here?

Payback for every perceived slight against commissioners.

What else would you take from the first thing out of Patrick Bell’s mouth following adjournment of the meeting?

“Do you remember when you kept a citizen from speaking to this board, Dave?”

I hadn’t (since it never happened), but he was quick to remind me that I had prohibited him to speak in front of the county commission. And I had. However, when Patrick Bell came to speak in front of the county commission, he was no longer merely a citizen; he was an announced candidate for public office. Candidates for public office are prohibited from addressing the board in open meeting due to a desire by the county commission to keep all forms of political gamesmanship out of our business meetings.

It’s a good rule.

Oh, and if we allowed every announced candidate to speak in front of the board during public comments, we’d have 10 candidates lined up at 5:00 each and every meeting until the election was over, and no citizens, and Patrick Bell knows it. He tried to do it himself.

It is both sour grapes on his part, and sophistry from a logical standpoint. The average citizen needs to be able to file complaints against any elected official at any time, and sadly for us, candidates for office are no longer merely average citizens.

And frankly, when are these guys going to start wearing the big-boy pants and realize that no one forced them into running for office, and as such, they are now a target for attacks?  I thought that using government to get back at their detractors went out with the Nixon administration.

Our ethics ordinance is broken, but there are better and smarter ways to fix it than what is being proposed.

David Richard