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Wake Up Macon!

May 2008

                                   

 

Political Watch: The Challenge Of Change In City Government

 

 

 

By James Wright

 

The views in this editorial do not necessarily represent those of The Georgia Informer or its staff

 

 

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert has proposed ethics legislation that would make the City of Macon a Certified City of Ethics under the Georgia Municipal Association’s Certified City of Ethics Program.  The proposed ordinance includes a code of ethics that would apply to every council member and specifies penalties for violations to this code.

 

 

One of the most difficult challenges for today’s city government is change.  Successful change requires the willingness of those involved to meet all challenges and navigate them to acceptable ends.  It requires a change in thinking patterns as well as behavior.

 

 

For an entire month, the Council’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee discussed the proposed legislation, trying to come up with something everyone could agree on.  Then a subcommittee of Councilmen Tom Ellington and Charles Jones was formed to further discuss the subject.

 

 

What’s the hold-up?  Could it be that Reichert’s ordinance names specific breaches of ethics and spells out penalties for these infractions?  Reportedly, the council’s primary objection has been that Mayor Reichert would name a three person panel to review ethics complaints.  Obviously, this panel could bring charges and City Council may have concerns that personality conflicts could bias those on the panel.  But it’s still worrisome that City Council is having such a problem with this proposed legislation.  It would simply enforce what the citizens already deserve from their elected officials - up-front, honest, selfless service to the community.  Why is this such a hard concept to grasp?

 

 

Of course, the question arises of who should make the appointment of the three person panel that will investigate ethics complaints.  Obviously, City Council shouldn’t make this decision; that would be unethical; but neither should Mayor Reichert.  A city-wide referendum and an open election should be held and Macon citizens be allowed to vote and elect this panel.  This would help eliminate any conflict of interest between the panel, Mayor Reichert, and City Council.  It would also save countless dollars in frivolous lawsuits brought about by individuals being investigated.  It would be much harder to disagree with an impartial panel voted for by the people than with a panel selected by Mayor Reichert or City Council.  The need for an impartial ethics panel outweighs any personal discomfort felt by Mayor Reichert or Council members.  In any event, the time for debate is over and the time for action is here.

 

 

In-teg-ri-ty  n  1. moral soundness, probity, wholeness, completeness  2. total honest and sincerity. (Webster)

Integrity has long been absent from Macon city government and Reichert’s efforts to bring trust, respect, credibility, and honesty back to our public officials and employees is commendable, if not absolutely necessary.  In fact, this was a primary objective after his swearing-in.  For far too long, the citizens of Macon have suffered due to the questionable actions of government officials and employees.  Integrity is the beginning of the rebuilding of the city of Macon.  “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.” Psalm 25:21

 

 

Integrity is being who we say we are.  We need two powerful forces to preserve us along life’s way; integrity and honesty.  Integrity often meets its match in money matters; one of the most difficult tests of integrity is wealth.  God calls us to be honest at all times.  We could easily justify a little dishonesty in small details, but this begs the question: At what point does a small detail become a large one?  What’s small to one may be quite large to another.  Wouldn’t it be much simpler to be completely honest in all affairs?  Heaven’s riches are far more valuable than earthly wealth.  But if we aren’t trustworthy with what we have here, we will not be fit to handle the vast riches of God’s Kingdom.  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:10,11

 

 

An ethics ordinance is an excellent idea.  Mayor Reichert is to be commended for his proposal and City Council is to be commended for debating the issue.  However, this is a very important issue and should not be taken lightly.  It must be brought to a conclusion this year.  This month, for his above-board attempts to put integrity back into city government, Mayor Reichert earns 15 points to his score of 35 for a total of 50.  Each City Council member receives 3 points for debating the issue as opposed to sitting back and merely accepting Mayor Reichert’s proposal as is.

 

 

 

 

Official Grade
Mayor Robert Reichert 35 + 15 = 50
City Council Members
City Council President Miriam Paris 42 + 3 = 45
Tom Ellington 42 + 3 = 45

Virgil Watkins, Jr.

42 + 3 = 45
Nancy White 42 + 3 = 45
Elaine Lucas 50 + 3 = 53
Alveno Ross 50 + 3 = 53
Erick Erickson 42 + 3 = 45
Charles Jones 45 + 5 = 50
Larry Schlesinger 42 + 3 = 45
Lauren Benedict 42 + 3 = 45
Lonnie Miley 42 + 3 = 45
Ed DeFore 42 + 3 = 45
Rick Hutto 42 + 3 = 45
James Timley 50 + 3 = 53
J. Michael Cranford 42 + 3 = 45
Bibb County Commissioners  
Joe Allen 50
Bert Bivins 50 + 5 = 55
Lonzy Edwards 50
Elmo Richardson 50
Charlie Bishop 50

 

 

In our choices lies our greatest power.  Macon officials have a choice to make.  They can continue with business as usual or they can utilize their power by making the right choice.  “Direct my step by your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.  Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep your precepts.  Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.  Rivers of water run down my eyes, because men do not keep your law.” Psalm 133-136.

 

City Council must respect Mayor Reichert’s attempts to put some integrity back into Macon government.  He is taking care of the people’s business; this is what he was elected to do.  Public officials should be just that – public.  Private goings-on don’t belong in City Council chambers.  After all, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t have a problem being scrutinized by anyone.  Or as they say, a hit dog hollers.

 

Any citizen desiring to read more of these editorials concerning political watch may do so at http://www.gainformer.com/Files/Wake%20Up%20Macon%20Navigation.htm .

 

 

Citizens may read the minutes of all Macon City Council meetings at http://www.cityofmacon.net/CityDept/council/councilnews.asp .

Bibb County Commission minutes can be found at http://www.co.bibb.ga.us/minutes/minutes.asp .

 

 

As always, Carpet Express is at the forefront of positive forward movement for all people into the 21st century.

 

We would like your thoughts or opinions on this or any other editorial.  Email us at carpetexpressofmaconinc@yahoo.com 

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