Monday’s regular city council meeting in Reidsville City Council brought continued dissatisfaction by citizens over the city council and mayors refusal to enact an ethics committee.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident and Ethics Committee member Vickie Nail brought to the attention of council that once again, the City of Reidsville is in violation of their own adopted ordinances by not having an operational ethics committee.
Nail detailed a timeline, which coincides with reports from AllOnGeorgia, indicating that Donald Prestage, Vicki Nail, and Duann Davis were all nominated by 3 of 5 council members during the January and February months. When the vote to approve the nominations took place, both councilmen John Wingate and Virgil Duckworth were absent. In March and April, members of the ethics committee petitioned for a meeting with council members in order to put together a formal complaint and appeals process for the committee. After refusal by the council to do so, Councilmembers Duckworth and Wingate informed City Attorney Van Cheney they were unhappy with the vote. Cheney informed members of the council that 4 of 5 votes for the council were needed and that the Mayor could not count as a vote, despite interpretation of the code section by Nail, Prestage, and Davis. An additional meeting was scheduled for a follow-up vote, however, the 4/5th vote was again not met.
During the squabble over whether the previously enacted committee was legitimate or not, Councilmembers Carolyn Blackshear and Curtis Colwell but indicated they would prefer a minority serve on the committee, instead of 3 white citizens.
A specially-called meeting was held last month to finally vote on new members of the council, as member Donald Prestage stepped down in an effort to advance the process and satiate the desire by Blackshear and Colwell to have a minority. No formal action was taken at the meeting.
Following the complaint by Nail at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Clifton announced that the idea of the Ethics Committee had been dropped and would not be moving forward. Clifton said the council voted to table the issue, however, the minutes do not reflect such and residents of the city in attendance that evening say no such vote took place.
Nail also that she had spoken with an attorney at the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) who had no idea Reidsville was not using an Ethics Committee because Reidsville has been reporting to GMA for 10 years that the city has one in place. The Georgia Municipal Association is an membership organization that aids local governments around the state in adhering to ethical, transparent, and accountable standards. Code section explicitly outlined in Reidsville code of ordinances requires the city have an ethics committee.
Now concerns arise over not only the failure to have a functional ethics committee, but also the false reporting to the Georgia Municipal Association.
When the council refused to address the issue of the ethics committee, Nail questioned them again. The meeting adjourned and City Attorney Van Cheney left with Councilman John Wingate.