What is the price of Ethics?
This past week, the evil Times wrote an editorial, A costly decision, where they claim that the replacement of the longtime county attorney, Stewart, Melvin & Frost, was an expensive lesson learned. The question I have is what is the price of an ethical board?
As I see it, this was a result of the previous commission. When the commission voted against having the attorney disclose conflicts of interest, the new commission had no choice but to think that there were still conflicts. This concern was still present on February 24th when the condition was added to a motion to allow the Sheriff to use SMF; “that Stewart, Melvin & Frost can present an affidavit stating that no partner in that firm is currently in business with any sitting commissioner.”
The other issue that was mentioned apparently had to do with the fact that the attorney acting as legal counsel for the county was also the bond attorney for the county. When the chairman read a prepared motion (1:40:30 mark) saying; “Award the Contract for general legal counsel to SMF…. does not include serving as bond counsel to the county for future bond transactions. The county will issue separate RFP and RFQs for bond disclosure counsels.” During discussion, Commissioner Bell mentioned that the bond counsel being separate was one of his issues. My understanding is that there may have been a conflict of interest because we had the same firm representing two parties. I guess it would be like the same lawyer representing a husband and wife in a divorce.
While I don’t know exactly what other issues Commissioner Lutz still has with SMF, the question is still whether the price was worth it. If it took the firing and experiment with the Atlanta firm to clean up the inappropriate relationships, then I believe that it was worth it.
Hugh Hall County Akston