Saturday, January 13, 2007

BREAKING: Ethics Complaint to Be Filed Against Metro Council Member at Large

In a letter dated today and addressed to Mayor Bill Purcell, Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, and Members of the Metro Council, the Executive Committee of the Nashville Neighborhood Alliance says that it intends to file a formal ethics complaint against Council Member at Large (and candidate for Vice Mayor) Diane Neighbors with the Council Board of Conduct. The NNA alleges that Ms. Neighbors:

  • Sponsored and promoted the "Car Wash Exemption Bill" despite a conflict of interest (the bill passed on second reading on January 2; must pass on third reading next Tuesday, January 16, to become law)
  • Disregarded the interests of the impacted constituents
  • Failed to follow through on promises to defer the bill made at a Planning Meeting
  • Subverted the Public Hearing Process
That last allegation, if true, is particularly troubling. According to the NNA, neighborhood groups like the Glencliff Neighborhood Association did not attend the Public Hearing because Ms. Neighbors left them with the impression that she was going to defer; thus, there was no need to come to speak against the bill.

The week before last, I was critical of neighborhood groups for allowing car wash proponents on the Council to marginalize bill opponents by not showing up for the Public Hearing. But if Ms. Neighbors did attempt to subvert the process by leading constituents to think that she would defer before actually shepherding the bill through, then I take my criticism of them back. If these allegations are true, then their only fault was in trusting that their elected representative would do as she said she would do.

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