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Friday, February 01, 2008

Milton Discusses Appointee Policy

NOTE: Please share your thoughts on the article below. Who do you agree with; Paul Moore or Bill Lusk?

by Jason Wright / http://www.northfulton.com/ / Appen Newspapers

Can an appointed city representative criticize Milton, its staff or City Council in a public setting?

That was the question before Milton's elected officials Jan. 17 during council's work session.

The discussion came about as a result of comments made by Planning Commission Chairman Paul Moore at the Dec. 13 council meeting, a situation that prompted councilwoman Karen Thurman to say it is "an embarrassment to tell people you're on the Milton City Council" because of similar events and all the bad press they have garnered.

That night Moore spoke against the possible abandonment of Black Oak Road, which had been deferred from the previous week's meeting. The item was removed from the night's agenda before Moore's comment.

Moore questioned Councilman Bill Lusk's qualifications as an engineer in assessing the effects of erosion on the road in the previous meeting. He also mentioned Thurman and Neal O'Brien in his comments, saying they and Lusk were reacting to issues of liability "like chicken little was standing before you ... the sky is falling."He was joined in his opinion by a few other citizens, most notably Leon Cole Jr., who brought an ethics complaint against O'Brien and Lusk that ultimately was dismissed.Cole questioned the lack of "due process" in bringing the matter before council.

Moore, who ran for council in 2006 against Lusk and who was a vocal opponent against O'Brien in the 2007 election, was asked to stop mentioning people by name and finished without incident. He was asked to leave by Mayor Joe Lockwood, who had appointed him to the Planning Commission.

That night, a vote brought forward by Lusk failed to remove Moore from the Planning Commission for his conduct, ending in a tie.

Thurman, Lockwood and Julie Zahner Bailey voted against removing him. Rick Mohrig and O'Brien, who left council that night, and Lusk voted to remove Moore.Thurman said she didn't feel she should remove a volunteer, instead leaving it up to the person who appointed him."This type of behavior cannot be tolerated," she said.Thurman said she has since realized she "prefers public service to politics."

Discussion lasted early into the next morning over what to do.

"As public officials, unfortunately we're under the microscope of our citizenry and they can come before us in public comment and comment to us, about us, as long as it's not defamation or libel," said Councilwoman Tina D'Aversa in the discussion at the work session.D'Aversa was not at the meeting when the situation occurred, but said she's seen others on council "suck it up" when attacked because it is their duty.

The city has had a checkered past of citizens speaking against elected officials at meetings, including an October attack against Councilwoman Julie Zahner Bailey by her political opponent at the time, Roger Santi.

In addition, various outbursts toward council at an April 26 Milton City Council work session led to the creation of a "decorum statement" warning citizens about such displays.City Attorney Mark Scott said he feels it is dangerous when council members' appointees speak ill of council or the city because it can create such a negative appearance in the press.

"Do they have the right to say those things? Of course they have the right," said Scott. "But do you folks find it to be conduct that is befitting of a person in a position such as that?"Scott said he feels the issue of free speech among appointees might be one of contract, meaning the limitation of freedom could be a trade off for the responsibility in the community.

D'Aversa said she felt council could not ask appointees to bite their tongues, but Thurman disagreed."I think a public servant, whether they are elected or appointed by one of us, is representing the city," she said. "And I would hope they would care enough about the city ... that they would not want to do something that was detrimental."

Scott said Johns Creek City Attorney Bill Riley has instructed appointed committee members not to make comments in other groups' meetings, which he said he feels goes too far.Lockwood said he would be open to guidelines for what is expected of volunteers."There have been some instances in the past that were much worse than what happened at that meeting and we didn't bring it up," he said.

Lusk brought up the city's conduct rules for City Council members at board and committee meetings, which lay out specific rules for what elected officials can do in city meetings."I think board members and committee members should be held to the same standards we are," he said. "They also are representatives of the city."

Lusk added the city needs to nip this problem in the bud now and draw up guidelines so everyone can "act like the civilized people we claim to be."Council was clearly divided on the issue, so Scott and city staff were instructed to look at other cities and see what their policies are before moving forward.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Considering the last quote by Lusk and his rude behavior to other Council members, City staff (on many occasions) and the Community at Large - compared to Paul Moore's sincerity and love for this area as evidenced by all of his past involvement for many years in protecting the community of Milton - what do you think my answer is? Developer Interest vs AUTHENTIC Community Interest? It's a no brainer, really.

S.L.

Anonymous said...

If they can't take the heat, then they don't need to be on the City Council...

Obviously Mrs. Thurman can take it, as she voted against the removal of Mr. Moore, so this isn't another them vs. us issue...

The issue is that the people who have valued opinions in Milton are usually appointed to important committees...we cannot afford the sacrifice of restraining their opinions...as long as proper behaviour is followed...calling someone chicken little is not quite the same thing as calling them chicken****

Anonymous said...

Karen Thurman voted against removing him because even though she is mean, she isn't stupid. She chose to throw her buddies O'Brien, Lusk, and Mohrig under the bus because she knew what would happen if they did vote to remove Paul Moore. The very next council meeting he would be added back, and then they would have set a precedent which would put their appointees at risk. Also if they push this too much, then Mr. Lusk may have to be removed based on his actions in council and statements in the press.

Anonymous said...

Lusk complaining about someone's conduct is like the pot calling the kettle black.

If you're going to dish it out, you have to be able to take it.

Anonymous said...

It would be UN-American to not speak up and Paul Moore has a right as a citizen of this country to a right to free speach. Now our City Attorney wants to control who is allowed to say what to council. As long as voice is not vulgar or threatening then anyone should be permitted under the United States Constitution to say what they want. Its okay though when it's Lusk or our now removed City Council members or Thurman to discredit the Mayor, Bailey or whoever at their leisure, and degrade other council members as they sit behind their perch at City Hall, but God forbid someone else from the community give it back to them.

Anonymous said...

Councilman Lusk, we feel your pain. If you can bear the pain until you are up for reelection, we will relieve you, guaranteed. If it becomes unbearable you can always resign.

Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech is the bottom line here. When you have a city attorney and a councilman both of whom are questioning this freedom then it is necessary to remove both from their positions as they are attempting to hamper the freedoms of the people they serve.
That goes for anyone else on council that would approve of passing "conduct rules" that would interfere with freedom of speech.
It is a sad day when the city attorney is more concerned with "bad press" than the loss of a freedom.

Scott said he feels the issue of free speech among appointees might be one of contract, meaning the limitation of freedom could be a trade off for the responsibility in the community.

(a limitation of freedom could be a trade off)
Two key words here are limitation and trade off.

There is no such thing as a "limitation" in freedom.

There is no "trade off" for our freedoms.

Anonymous said...

I vote for removal of our city attorney, Scott. His past vocal guidance to Council at meetings is an atrosity,i.e. "you will be sued and lose if you don't approve the liquor license", now it's freedom of speech. OMG is he for real. He is not benefitting our city nor our Council. Out with him!

Anonymous said...

Finito. Caputo. Sayonara. Adios. No trabajo en Milton no mas.

Anonymous said...

get over the liquor license thing already...move on...there was no legal mechanism in place to block it as long as the applicant met all the requirements...you can all just go over to a friend's house and drink before driving home if you wish to take it as far as boycotting the restaurant...at least the restaurant can legally cut you off...

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a "limitation" in freedom.

So shouting "FIRE" in a crowded movie theatre is Ok?

I wish some of our volunteers would simpily exercise some "common dececny?"

Name calling is sophmoric at best an serves no real purpose except to make bad press for our city.

Anonymous said...

If everyone, yes everyone, would exercise common courtesy and decency we would not have to worry about "BAD PRESS".

We know this is not going to happen as long as the majority has the "ME" attitude. Rules, laws, regulations, courtesy and decency do not apply to the "ME" crowd, only to others.

Before you start lambasting, remember this... "if the shoe fits, wear it"..if not let the bombardment begin.

Anonymous said...

Good point made by the last commentor. Even though 2 of the 4 "me's" are gone, it wil take some time for the remaining 2 "me's" to learn to play by the rules and learn to do what is not only right but learn courtesy and decency.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the two remaining "ME's" weren't at the City Council meeting tonight. What's that about?

Anonymous said...

"Priorities"

Anonymous said...

Let's hope their "priorities" remain constant and they are never present for future council meetings.

Anonymous said...

The comment was not about the liquor license it was about what the attorney said and how he made his recommendation to council, which was inappropriate.

I don't drink so you go get drunk with your friends. I don't give a crap about that stupid restaurant. But now that you bring it up, I do agree with others the location is stupid nonetheless. You must likely be either Chris Segewick or Bob Fishman with your comments......."get over it".

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot...by telling the council that the city would be sued, he not only saved the city money, but kept himself from making more...

He didn't make a statement until directly asked by council...

Anonymous said...

you are the idiot........he could have said it differently without threatening the council with no other option. If they had no discretion they why on earth was it put before them anyway. Mark Scott and Tom Wilson should have just put their name on the approval and not wasted anyone's time. Then we wouldn't be having this blog either.

Anonymous said...

He could have said it differently.....Give your version as to what he should have actually said and nothing about why is was before council.

Thanks,
Speech Police

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for your answer!!

Speech Police

Anonymous said...

Grow up. I'm not into playing blog games with someone like you, your blogs are childish and defensive. Either you were the school ground bully or you were picked on, one or the other.

You have issues of hostility that need checked.

Bitter about something?

Anonymous said...

Well, at least you didn't call me an idiot and I thank you for that.

Maybe you have allowed your steamboat mouth to overflow your rowboat ***, reckon?

Have a good evening.

Speech Police

Anonymous said...

No I returned your idiot compliment earlier. No use in being repetative. Try and have a nice life, Mr./Ms. Bitter and Angry Person, you only get one.

Anonymous said...

I am not the anonymous who called you an idiot. However, after your above post I can understand why he/she called you one.

"Try and have a nice life Mr./Ms. Bitter and Angry Person, you only get one."

You have been spending too much time standing in front of that mirror.

Speech Police

Miltonville 30004 said...

Oh, c'mon you guys.
Where is the L-O-V-E?

Peace Out.
P.S.