Last week the Forney Council sent city attorney Jon Thatcher back to the drawing board for the third consecutive time in regard to drafting an Ethics Policy that will prohibit
any elected official, city employee or city appointed board member from obtaining any type of financial interest that conflicts with the taxpayer’s interest.
Reportedly, the need for the council to adopt an official Ethics Policy arose in February 2018 after it was publicly revealed that the Forney Economic Development Board of Director’s had, without council approval, sold the 212 South Bois d’Arc building to the President of the EDC Board, Joe Dan McBeth.
Many Forney residents including Mayor Rick Wilson expressed genuine concern regarding the less than transparent manner in which the 212 South Bois d’Arc property sale was conducted.
It has been confirmed that after Mayor Wilson issued a public statement calling for an investigation into the property sale, the council heatedly discussed the details surrounding the sale within Executive Session.
It has also been confirmed that Mayor Wilson consulted with the Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney regarding legalities surrounding the sale of the property after dozens of citizens began demanding the property sale be reversed.
Reportedly, city attorney Jon Thatcher has advised the council that because the city does not have an official Ethics Policy ordinance, which specifically states the ethical boundaries and prohibited acts recognized by the Council, a legal issue could arise if they were to demand that the property sale be reversed.
Forever concerned with possible litigation, the council has apparently chosen to adopt an Ethics Policy and to go to great lengths to not mention their true reasoning for adopting the new ordinance.
Wanting the taxpayers to recognize the new policy as “self-regulating" transparency, the council has spent considerable time discussing Section 1.12.003 Standards of Conduct General Provisions #7 – which pertains only to social media posting by council members, staff and board members.
Social media restrictions are but a minute part of the overall ethics policy restrictions. Below is the opening paragraph of the Ethics Policy, which clearly details its intended purpose.
“Section 1.12.001 Policy It shall be the policy of the City of Forney that the proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible only to the people of the City; that no City Official or City Employee shall permit any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engagement in any business, transaction or professional activity to conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest; that public office not be used for personal gain; and that the City Council at all times shall be maintained as a nonpartisan body.
To implement such a policy, the City Council deems it advisable to enact a Code of Ethics for all City Officials and City Employees, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, to serve not only as a guide for official conduct of the City’s public servants, but also as a basis for discipline for those who refuse to abide by its terms. The overriding interest of the Code of Ethics is that City Officials and City Employees of the City of Forney shall always strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”
Written by: Denise Bell