Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Perrin: Ethics Violation at the City Level

by Rick Cheshier, Letter to Editor: The Jonesborro, Arkansas Metropolitan Area Planning Commission consists of three county appointees and six people picked by the mayor. One owns a company that sells plumbing and concrete supplies used in highway, street, and bridge construction. One is a Realtor. One is a lawyer who is involved in property management. One is an architect involved in developments. Two are construction contractors.

Councilmen, elected officials, administrative officers, and department heads are required to abide by a code of ethics as described in the city's Code of Ordinances. As appointees, MAPC officials are evidently exempt from the code. (If the economic development tax had passed, the public corporation appointees would have been exempt as well, despite attorney Robert Jones and Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin's statements to the contrary during a community meeting.)

Those who are bound by the ethics code "shall refrain from making or influencing decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, competitors, and immediate family members." They "shall refrain from actions benefiting special interest groups at the expense of the city as a whole." They "shall ensure equal and impartial law enforcement throughout the city without respect to race, creed, color, sex, or the economic or social position of individual citizens."

Where has maintenance and stormwater drainage enforcement been during the past year while Greensborough Village has become an eyesore?

The Code of Ordinances specific to the city council says that "members of the audience will be offered an opportunity to speak on all questions before the city council." No time limit is given although people opposed to Greensborough Village were repeatedly silenced with arbitrary time limits when the village was on the agenda. The council is required to provide 15 minutes during each regular council meeting for public comment on non-agenda business.

Also, "No alderman or other elected city official with a direct or indirect financial or personal interest in any item before the city council shall participate in the discussion or voting on such matters."

Several councilmen were in a position to make money off of both the sales tax proposal and Greensborough Village. Several own companies that do or may do business with the city and would not dare offend the mayor by voting "no" on items he is enthusiastically promoting. None of them recused themselves from discussions or from voting.

Gene Vance who owns both a construction company and an overhead door company, said the developers shouldn't have to pay "multi-hundreds or thousands of dollars" to obtain information required on the application for Town Center Overlay because they would be "spending that money with the possibility of the zoning being turned down."

If you actually have ethics, and you've never considered running for office because you aren't really into politics, consider running for mayor or city council when the opportunity arises. We need representatives who are in touch with what most citizens really care about.
Rick Cheshier lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas

Tags: Rick Cheshier, Jonesboro, letter to editor, ethics violation, city level, Mayor Harold Perrin, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

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