2008-04-17 / Front Page

Council votes to become City of Ethics; pushes to return to committee meetings

By KIP BURKE news editor

The Washington City Council has voted to become a certified City of Ethics, but two of the councilmen who once pushed the ethics program voted against it.

At Monday night's meeting, the council voted 4-2 to participate in the Georgia Municipal Association's Certified City of Ethics program. Despite their vocal support for an ethics ordinance at previous meetings, Councilmen Maceo Mahoney and Nathaniel Cullars voted against participating.

In last month's meeting, the council passed a draft ethics ordinance after several councilmen had urged not only adoption of the ethics standards, but had argued for more stringent penalties for unprofessional behavior.

On another issue, Councilman Rev. G.L. Avery brought up the mayor's change in having councilmen sit on city committees. "I'm concerned we're not assigning city councilmen to oversee the departments of the city government. I don't think we can do our jobs if we're not on these committees, and I'd like to see us go back," he said.

Councilmen Mahoney and Pamela Eaton agreed.

Mayor Willie Burns said that councilmen had complained about the number of work meetings, so he took them off the committees. If he returns them to the committees, he said, he will appoint them as he sees fit,he said.

The council voted 4-2 to return to seats on the committees, with Edward Pope Jr. and Ames Barnett voting in opposition.

Councilman Eaton asked the city attorney to look into an ordinance banning skateboards from city sidewalks. "An elderly lady almost got run down coming out of a restaurant the other day," she said. Other constituents had complained about skaters using private property to skate on.

The council also took another step in the multiyear Southwest Washington Redevelopment Plan by passed a building moratorium for new structures and additions in the Rusher Street target area. Homes being built or added to in the target area will be required to meet new design standards for the area.

The council also acted to establish a loan review committee for the Downtown Development Authority Revolving Loan Fund. Eaton, a DDA member, abstained from the vote.

The council voted to recognize April 21 through 26 as Georgia Cities Week. The city will send in a report to the state on the city's participation in the Tour de Georgia as the local celebration.

Two items were passed for the Main Street program. The council passed a resolution declaring an Opportunity Zone and passed an ordinance for an Enterprise Zone, both in support of the Southwest Washington Redevelopment Plan.

The council also passed a request by the Wilkes Ministers United to use The Square at noon on May 1 for a National Day of Prayer observance, and for the Wilkes Cattlemen's Association to use The Square for an event.

Linda Echols of the CSRA RDC Agency on Aging invited council members to their volunteer banquet.

Tourism Director Ashley Barnett reported on activities planned for the upcoming Tour de Georgia visit and the need for local volunteers. She also thanked local State Farm agent Scott Lewis for donating a golf cart and to Washington Town Cars for modifying and upgrading the cart for the Chamber of Commerce to use.

Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Ed Pope III reported that Chamber membership is now up to 189 members. He also urged all present, on behalf of the Chamber, to shop at home now more than ever. "It costs six or eight bucks just to drive to Thomson and back," he said, "while our local businesses are feeling a real pinch. I urge y'all to shop at home. We have to watch out for each other, and watch out for our local merchants."

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