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08/23/2018 Our Voice

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Public due an apology

“We’re citizens, not subjects, we have the right to criticize government without fear.”

— Chelsea Manning

The council might consider refresher courses in civics and public decorum but most notably its own Code of Ethical Conduct.

That they are required to sign the document when they take office; with the acknowledgment they understand it, but that they do not put it into practice continues to confound us.

The recent condemnation of citizens by one council member was uncalled for by a public official.

In the wake of Ethics Commission investigation of now former Mayor Walter Green and City Administrator Dawn Bowne, Councilwoman Valerie Hanchar called it “horrific.”

“Whoever brought up these charges against Walter and Dawn are horrible human beings,” she exclaimed.

“Horrible human beings.”

For those not in the know, it was Connie Bryant who filed an ethics complaint against the city administrator; Green, on the other hand, was recently referred to the Florida Commission for Ethics by 5th Circuit State Attorney Brad King.

In addition, Hanchar levied accusations that county employees accept gifts on a frequent basis. If that’s the case, then we will welcome her to bring the evidence. We’d be more than happy to look into those claims.

Overall, her remarks are “horrific,” not the actions of the citizens or the State Attorney’s Office. The city’s Code of Ethic Conduct states: “The professional and personal conduct of members must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Members shall refrain from abusive conduct personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of Council boards and commissions the staff or public.”

It’s not the right of citizens, but their duty, to hold those in public office accountable for their actions. It is exactly why the government has protocols in place for the public to challenge the officials from the local to federal level.

Hanchar bemoaned the fact Bowne had to spend her own personal money on attorney due to the Ethics Commission investigation. Folks aren’t going to feel remorseful the city administrator had to spend her own money; she makes $78,000, received a $7,500 signing bonus when she inked her contract as city administrator. It was the actions of city officials that put them in the Ethics Commission’s sights.

The council shouldn’t have to be reminded, but “their primary concern” is to work “for the common good of the people of Dunnellon and not for any private or personal interest.” If we have to educate the council that they are to serve the constituents, not the city staff, then perhaps public office isn’t the place for them.