The County that keeps giving us Don Balfour and has a roughly 50-50 chance of any elected commissioner getting indicted decided it needed to strengthen its ethics policies. (You think?)
Taking a page from the state legislature’s playbook, they decided they would introduce new rules to increase transparency. And then they exempted themselves from being charged with ethics complaints. Did I mention greater transparency? Because I’m sure that’s the part they wanted you to notice. From WSB-TV:
Gwinnett Co. policy prevents ethics complaints against incumbents Channel 2 Action News has discovered a loophole in the Gwinnett County ethics policy that some believe protects county officials seeking re-election.
Gwinnett commissioners approved the ethics policy last year to improve transparency, especially in relation to any business dealings that could financially benefit elected officials.
But, they added a clause that puts ethics complaints leveled at incumbents on hold for six months.
Yes, it is true that ethics complaints can be filed against incumbents purely as a campaign tactic, something that Commissioner Beaudreau claims in the above story. And the people I trust in Gwinnett still say he’s one of the good guys. Yet with the deck generally stacked in favor of incumbents, insulating and exempting yourself from any complaint is an abuse of power.
In a county with the current record of ethics and legal violations among incumbents, putting this policy in place is, in fact, a victory for transparency. It should be very transparent by now that the system is rigged in favor of incumbents, with voters finding it more and more difficult to be able to hold them accountable.
By the way, all of you fine people in Gwinnett that keep pointing to MARTA and Hartsfield Jackson Airport as bastions of corruption: Why do you strain so hard to see the City of Atlanta’s skyline when you have a plank of corruption lodged squarely in your own eyes?