9) We need new and better defined rules about what constitutes Conflicts of Interest and the ability to construct a Citizen Review Board to look into such matters, since there is a Circular Conflict of Interest in the relationship between the City Manager, Staff, and the Council. And the sanctions issue needs to be clearly defined also. The head of the review board would be the acting city Ombudsman and these people will rotate on and off of this board annually.
The City Council inherently receives inside information. What do you think you call the information they receive in closed chamber sessions?
Inside Information isn't necessarily a bad word. It means that you are privy to information that the outside world isn't. Once again this is where transparency comes into play. Conceptual Authoritarian governments believe in absolute control of information. Absolute Control of Information empowers the government over the people and turns people into subjects... Subjected to Authoritarian Power.
Those who control the information in an authoritarian fashion decide who they will disseminate the information to. They pick the winners and the losers. If they like you, or maybe they need your help (or a favor), then they might tell you about a project that hasn't been made public yet. One thing you can guarantee, if they don't like you or you aren't connected to the power structure, then you will be kept out of the loop.
The free flow of information is very important in a free society and this needs to be taken seriously by leaders in a Representative Democracy.
We are constantly told that the message delivered to the outside world is important and needs to be positive; and I agree. The appearance of impropriety sends a message of impropriety and thus sends a very negative message to the public. As the elected leaders of the community, the council are the top hosts of the community. Civilized people are taught that as a host you serve yourself last, after all of the guests have been served. Your job as a host is to make sure that the people you are serving are taken care of, not that they are to take care of you.
Rudy Wright basically said that he and the city council are compelled to vote on all issues and that is the law. He is wrong. If he believes there is a conflict of interest, then he can always recuse or abstain. They cannot force him to vote on an issue. An abstention automatically counts as a yes vote. This has happened before. Other legislative bodies have a provision to allow voting yes, no, or present. That way you have an option other than a yes vote or a no vote. What is wrong with voting present? When council members know
that other members have conflicts, and they sit idle and don't
illuminate such information, then they are accomplices to the conflict.
If you feel compelled to vote... obligated to vote on every issue.. then you are obligated to be transparent about the issue. As an elected official, the voters will pass final judgment and make the final decision, with their vote, about how one votes and whether one has had too many conflicts of interest.
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - City Funding of Non-Profit Agencies
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - Better Dialogue with the Public
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - Public Information
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - Helping Small Business, Start-ups, and Entrepreneurs
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - an Agenda on Health and Wellness
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - Learn from National Studies & Surveys
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - Independent Boards and Commissions
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - Term Limits