When it comes to local politics, the city of Snellville’s city council meetings occasionally resemble a soap opera with divisions that run deep and battle lines seemingly clearly drawn. But at its most recent meeting this past week, the council got it right with an amendment to its code of ethics, although this being Snellville, the amendment didn’t pass unanimously.
We give the Snellville council a thumbs up on the amendment, aimed at stopping ethics complaints that are frivolous and politically motivated. Basically, what the amendment does is create a screening process for ethics complaints. The city manager and city attorney will now review the complaints, deeming whether or not they have merit.
While we believe that goverment should always be held accountable, local council members shouldn’t be subjected to politically motivated or illegitimate claims. When that happens, reputations are besmirched no matter what the ultimate outcome may be.
The amended code of ethics is a direct action taken in the wake of councilman Tom Witts being subjected to accusations from George Anderson, a self-proclaimed statewide ethics watchdog. Anderson later aplogized, but city attorney Tony Powell noted that the damage had already been done.
“This change stops frivolous claims before they can get that far,” Powell said.
Witts, who said defending himself against the claims was draining, is pleased with the change and the effect he thinks it will have against the politically motivated.
“I think it’s a very good (idea),” Witts said. “I think every city should adopt it. Unfortunately, during election season this happens a lot. Our city council decided these frivolous accusations need to be stopped. There should be some basis in fact for an accusation.”
We agree. City government should be scrutinized by the press and the people, but it should be done fairly and appropriately, not played out like a real-life soap opera.
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