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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Conflict of Interest Documents from the HDR article of July 7, 2013

The following are the conflict of Interest Documents that are mentioned in the Hickory Daily Record article of July 7, 2013 entitled - Conflict-of-interest questions raised about two members of Hickory City Council - John Tinklenberg

Conflict of Interest Documentation:

I want you to look at these documents and see how slipshod they were filled out and how incomplete these statements are. There really has been no oversight of these records or the process. Information was asked to be provided up through present (July 1, 2012 at the time requested a couple months ago). As you will see, the info provided only ran through July 1, 2008. Who will hold anyone accountable should violations occur. Don't expect the City Manager to do anything. He serves at the pleasure of the City Council.

And that Parking Deck Fund that is mentioned, the City Council and City Administration have been misappropriating that fund - read it for yourself below.  As section one states, this money is set aside for funding future parking facility Capital project needs. This fund was created to increase Parking Capacity and address its issues, not for building canopies on the Square or whatever other whims and fancies the Council and staff see to.

And remember what Harry Hipps wrote 4 1/2 years ago:
TIME TO CHANGE WEAK ETHICS RULE by Harry Hipps - November 20, 2008

It's time to change the city ordinance to make a clear statement on ethics.

Article II - Council Division 1 - Generally Sec 2 - 62 says:
Every member must vote unless excused by the remaining members. No member shall be excused from voting except on matters involving the consideration of his own financial interest or official conduct or other conflict of interest. A MEMBER WHO WISHES TO BE EXCUSED FROM VOTING SHALL SO INFORM THE MAYOR, WHO SHALL TAKE A VOTE OF THE REMAINING MEMBERS.

Now, what the heck is this? The section I printed in caps seems to suggest that if you don't want to vote when you have a conflict of interest the council can vote and you don't have to . But if you don't want to inform the mayor of your conflict of interest you don't have to and you can vote for your personal interest. What kind of ethics is this? If there is a conflict it is unethical and possibly illegal to vote. The code should be changed to read: A MEMBER WHO HAS SUCH A CONFLICT MUST INFORM THE MAYOR WHO WILL INFORM THE COUNCIL THAT THE MEMBER WILL NOT BE VOTING. There should also be sanctions including expulsion from the council if a member does not disclose a conflict of interest.

Let's say, hypothetically, that Sally Fox voted for city money to be used to promote downtown Hickory merchants (and thereby her personal retail business as well). Would we want to accept the City funds being used to line her pockets? What about all the other retailers in Hickory that would like to have the City's money promoting them? Obviously, the use of City money for personal gain would be unethical.

It's time to take ethics seriously. The level of anger and cynicism towards government is growing and is unhealthy for our democracy. Let's change this statute and run a cleaner City government.

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