White Settlement ethics hearings come to a close

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by A.C. Hall

The final hearing was held last night looking into the alleged ethics violations by City Council members Mike Arnold and Elzie Clements.  First the Arnold hearing was held, with the entirety being done in a closed door executive session.  This was said to be due to the fact that the alleged violation took place in a closed door executive session and State Law doesn’t allow the council to release the record of executive sessions.  Deliberations did not last long, and once council reconvened they stated that they watched the video of the night in question and voted that nothing matching the claim took place, thus there was no ethics violation and the matter was closed.

The Clements final hearing was not so cut and dry.  A lawyer was hired by the city to present the case on their behalf and he called several witnesses in an attempt to prove that Clements had committed an ethics violation by directing members of the city staff to do something.  Clements worked to disprove these statements, pointing out that he never directly demanded action be taken.  The lawyer argued that Clements used his position of power as a council member to get staff members to take actions they wouldn’t take for regular citizens, meaning he did direct them.  The lawyer also stated he felt that a level 3 or level 4 sanction was needed, which would be a letter of reprimand or a suspension.

After a lengthy closed door deliberation that lasted over an hour, council reconvened with a decision.  The entire Ethics Commission, meaning Clements himself, voted unanimously that a violation had occurred and that Clements will be subject to a level 3 sanction.  This means a letter will be published in the newspaper about his ethics violation.  Mayor Jerry Burns spoke about this bringing the matter to a close and that now the council will move forward and work together again.  This was mirrored by other council members after the meeting who spoke of putting the bickering behind them and moving forward for the good of the city.

For the full details of this matter pick up next weeks Grizzly Detail Newspaper.