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« They're called public companies for a reason | Main | How 'bout you? »

Jan 15, 2009


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Kirk Ross

Not sure they can Ed.
Recusal rules are pretty tight. Unless they've got a direct interest I think they have to vote — or take a walk.

Roger Greene

I don't think the recusal rules preclude them from having their own reasons for sitting out a vote. As a matter of fact in this case, even if the rules were tight, it's not hard to make the case they do have a direct interest in this issue with their financial gain at the core of it. I don't have any illusions that they will bend over backwards to be honorable, unless Mike Barber does so. He very well might.

Kirk Ross

This article has the info on the rules (and a lot more) and some of the problems with the state's recusal laws for local govs.

Owens notes:
"State statutes specifically address the question of when local elected officials can be excused from voting. Section 160A-75 of the General Statutes provides that, for city councils, "No member shall be excused from voting except upon matters involving the consideration of his own financial interest or official conduct." In such cases the board member can only be excused by a majority vote of the council. If not excused, the board member automatically is recorded as voting in the affirmative if present but not actually casting a vote. Section 153A-44 contains a similar provision for county boards of commissioners. These statutes only apply to local elected officials and do not affect voting by members of planning boards, boards of adjustment, and state citizen commissions."
He also points out a Gboro code that could helpful:
"Several local governments also have codes of ethics regarding conflicts of interest. The most common are financial disclosure requirements, required, for example, by Guilford and Orange counties, Greensboro, and Charlotte. Charlotte council members are required to disclose (for both themselves and their spouses) all real property holdings within the county and the identity of businesses they own and their employer. In addition to disclosure, the Guilford County code specifically requires a county commissioner to disqualify himself or herself from voting on any matter involving such a disclosed interest. The Greensboro code states that "No member of any board or commission may discuss, advocate or vote on any matter in which he has a separate, private or monetary interest, either direct or indirect."

David Wharton

Good link, Kirk. I think this is the operative text:

When legislative land-use decisions are involved, if the financial interest is very small or if the impact of the decision is remote and speculative, there is not likely to be a conflict of interest. An example is a city council member voting on a comprehensive rezoning that affects his or her property in the same way that it affects the property of all other city residents.
I've been thinking about this all day, and I don't think any of the councilmembers should recuse themselves.

Given what Owens said in his protest petition presentation, that ordinance is likely to affect very few rezonings. But I think it will be useful to voters to see how their council representatives vote on this issue. The protest petition issue could well be a bloody flag at election time.

Meanwhile, councilmembers Barber and Wade have called a surprise press conference for tomorrow. Will it be about protest petitions? Or about Mitch Johnson?

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