The purpose of the public hearing is to determine whether or not a violation of the county ethics ordinance occurred for regarding Flowers-Taylor’s comments on an election night Facebook post by Connie Pound. The meeting will be in Room 108 of the County Annex, 119 East Solomon St.
The previous hearing, by the Board of Commissioners was to determine if prima facie violation occurred and whether a follow-up hearing was warranted. The remaining four commissioners voted unanimously that the follow-up hearing was needed to determine if Flowers-Taylor’s comments to the Facebook post warrant a violation.
Pound said Flowers-Taylor caller her “a stupid biatch” and “a conservative racist queen.” Pound provided copies of the Facebook post and comments made the night of the election.
Per the county’s ethics ordinance, the citizen ethics review board was convened and the three-member board will be considering if those comments made election night are a violation of the county ethic code, item 8, which states county officials shall “never engage in other conduct which is unbecoming to an official or which constitutes a breach of public trust.”
The names of the three-member review, per the ordinance, were randomly selected, along with three alternates should any of the first three not be able to serve. Each commission was supposed to provide three nominees at the beginning of their term.
Commissioners Eddie Freeman, Raymond Ray and Chipper Gardner each had three appointees, Flowers-Taylor only had appointed two (the third had passed away) and Commissioner Bob Gilreath had not appointed any, despite repeated requests to make the nominations. As the complaint was against Flowers-Taylor, her two appointees were excluded. The three named to the review board were Jesse Bradley, Johnnie McDaniel and Kathy Noble. The three alternates selected were Tootsie Powers, Jackie Perkins and Fred Edwards.
Bradley and Powers were appointed by Ray; McDaniel and Noble by Gardner; and Perkins and Edwards by Freeman.
County Attorney Jim Fortune suggested each member of the review board be asked if they have made a determination of guilt or feel they can be impartial.
“If they can’t,” he said, “then we go to the alternates, in the order selected.”
At last week’s hearing, Fortune went over the purpose and intent of the county ethics code to which he said “might be beneficial to get your mind in tune with the purpose of the ordinance.”
The purpose of the code “is to establish ethical standards of conduct for all covered officials of Spalding County by identifying acts or actions that are incompatible with the best interests of the community and the organization and by requiring disclosure by such covered officials of private, financial or other interests, in matters affecting the county.”
Those covered officials, according to the ethics code, “are bound to observe, in their official acts, the highest standards of behavior and to faithfully discharge the duties and responsibilities of their office, regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that public interest must be their primary concern.”
The two phrases which may be at the heart of this issue are “in matters affecting the county,” which Flowers-Taylor asked Fortune about, and “in their official acts.” She noted the response to the Facebook post was made “in enjoying my First Amendment rights on election night, made in my home, on my personnel device, on my personnel account.”
Flowers-Taylor also asked, “Is there a line of demarcation where rights as a personal citizen end?”