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Decatur Ethics Committee will hold its first meeting


Decatur Ethics Committee will hold its first meeting

Decatur City Hall.
Decatur City Hall.

Decatur City Hall.

By Mary Margaret Stewart, contributor 

The Decatur Ethics Committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday, May 3, at 2 p.m. The meeting will be held in the City Commission Meeting Room at City Hall, located at 509 N. McDonough St.

The Ethics Committee was first appointed in 2001, but since no complaints have been filed, the committee has never held a meeting.

The city has been making changes to how it communicates information about its Ethics Committee to the public following an investigation by Decaturish.com into city credit card spending. A recent story noted that while the Ethics Committee hasn’t held a meeting since 2001, the city has not provided the public with easy access to information about its ethics ordinance or provided information about how to file a complaint.

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The city of Decatur has updated its website, Decaturga.com, to include information about the city’s ethics ordinance and its Ethics Committee.

The City Commission recently appointed two new members to the Ethics Committee: Charlie Bailey, a local attorney, and Mark Douglas, a professor of Christian ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary. The other member is former mayor Elizabeth Wilson.

They replaced Davison Philips, who passed away, and former Mayor Walt Drake, who is the father of City Commissioner Scott Drake.

Mayor Patti Garrett recently said, “There could be a potential conflict of interest with having Walt Drake serve.” The Decaturish.com investigation into city credit card use uncovered an apparent violation of the city’s ethics ordinance by Commissioner Scott Drake, who used his city-issued card at a gas station where he has an ownership interest. Drake has defended his purchases saying there are few gas stations in Decatur and he was buying gas for an out-of-town trip on city business. No complaints against Drake have been filed.

Garrett had asked that the Committee hold an organizational meeting for the purposes of having committee members meet each other.

The agenda includes a presentation by City Attorney Bryan Downs regarding logistics for filing a complaint and proceeding with a hearing.

The meeting is open to the public.

Editor’s note: Mary Margaret Stewart is a Decatur High senior who will be interning with Decaturish.com this summer.