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Milton City Council declines to penalize official for ethics violations

MILTON, Ga. — In a unanimous vote Oct. 17, the Milton City Council decided to take no action against Councilman Paul Moore for a ruling from a three-member panel that he violated city ethics policy.

The council vote comes six weeks after the city’s Ethics Commission determined that Moore improperly participated in a vote to table discussion of whether the city should provide funding for traffic calming devices within his neighborhood, White Columns. The ethics complaint was filed May 6 by Tony Palazzo, president of the White Columns Homeowners Association.

Ethics board: Milton City Councilman violated policies

The violations are related to sections dealing with ethics for city officials and department directors, disclosure of interest and abstention to avoid conflicts of interest.

At the Aug. 30 ethics hearing, attorneys recommended to the mayor and City Council that Moore be given a written censure or reprimand outlining the ethics violations he committed and that they be publicly announced at one of their regular meetings and included in the official minutes.

After noting that Moore committed three out of seven ethics violations he was charged with, Mayor Peyton Jamison said Moore has been “sufficiently sanctioned.”

“Per the city's ethics code, the council is not empowered to disturb or change the panel's findings on violations of the code,” Jamison said. “Our only authority is to determine what, if any, penalty should be imposed.”

Laura Bentley

Former Milton City Councilwoman Laura Bentley advises councilmembers to re-evaluate the city’s ethics ordinance at the Oct. 17 meeting.

Over the past several months, many residents have come forward to voice support for Moore at the City Council meetings. They have also sent emails to local media highlighting Moore’s many years of service to the community.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, three Milton residents spoke on his behalf, including former Milton City Councilwoman Laura Bentley who called on officials to re-evaluate the ethics ordinance.

“The full picture is not just the findings,” Bentley said.

She said Moore was found to have had the appearance of impropriety based on a statement that he never made. Bentley also said case law that supported a complete dismissal was ignored.

“The process is flawed,” she said.

Reach Amber Perry at 770-847-8334. Follow her on Twitter @ambermarieperry