Thursday, February 10, 2011

City council can't act on an issue because too many members have a conflict of interest

The Lancaster City Council found itself with a dilemma when three of the six members and the mayor had to recuse themselves from discussing an issue involving a school because they work for the county schools.

Garrard County Superintendent Donald Aldridge appeared before the council to discuss a leaky water pipe that "had cost the school district thousands of dollars," reports Ben Kleppinger for the Danville Advocate-Messenger. City Attorney Leonard Smith pointed out that three members of the council are teachers in the school system and the mayor is the school district’s community education director and they should all recuse themselves from the issue. "My recommendation is to not even ask questions, because you could have the appearance of conflict by asking the wrong question," Smith told the council.

Superintendent Aldridge was asking the council for a budget adjustment to cover the expense of a pipe that had leaked 700,000 gallons of water into the ground before being fixed. Smith told Aldridge and the council that Aldridge did not have any basis to make a change. "There’s nothing we can do about it and the school board’s stuck in the middle," said Smith.

With the water-bill issue behind him, writes Kleppinger, Aldridge asked Smith how he could ever bring an issue to the council if the council is rendered powerless by his presence. "Maybe you could fire two or three teachers and that will fix your problem," Smith joked, before explaining that other issues might not be as controversial and the council could handle them without having to recuse themselves. (Read more)

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