Re: Conflict of interest/Ethics Commission

202

Dear Editor:
Brandon Johnson’s reply to my letter of Apr. 3 was like manna from heaven.
His purpose was to prove that John Manchester is not guilty of a conflict of interest by wearing 2 hats – one as Mayor and the other as City Administrator. His argument was based on the following: “The Ethics Commission has consistently held that elected municipal officials may be employed by the municipality where they hold office, unless the compensated position causes the person (Manchester) to directly supervise themselves.”
Thanks to the Law of Unintended Consequences Mr. Johnson inadvertently provided me with the legal underpinning that a “conflict of interest” has existed since the day Mayor Manchester was appointed City Administrator – a compensated position.
FACTS don’t lie:
1. The City’s website clearly states that “City Council consists of seven members, including the MAYOR and Recorder.”
2. Sec. 2-32. Mayor. The City code states: “The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer (i.e. CEO) of the city, and he shall see that all provisions of this Code and other ordinances, orders, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations of the city council are faithfully executed.” In other words John Manchester sits on top of the organizational chart.
3. Sec. 2-35. City Administrator. The Code states that: The City Administrator (i.e. Manchester) reports to the Mayor (i.e. Manchester) and serves at the will and pleasure of the elected governing body of the City of Lewisburg (which includes, you guessed it, Manchester).
4. Sec. 2-30. Municipal office holding; titles of deputies and assistants. Paragraph (a) states that “The City Council, and the mayor with the approval of the city council, may designate one person to hold two or more city offices concurrently; provided, that no elective officer shall hold concurrently any other office when to do so is prohibited by state or federal law.
I have spoken with both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Manchester since that letter was published and neither has provided any evidence or information to dispute my contention that Mr. Manchester is in clear violation of the State Ethics Code.
In a last ditch effort to save his combined high paying jobs, Mr. Manchester is offering to amend the City’s Code in a way that still violates the State’s Ethics Code. I’m sure he is hoping that this tactic will delay this issue until after the election.
The right thing to do is for Mr. Manchester to step down from one or both of his positions. If he is not willing to do this then either the voters can do it for him, or he can face an inquiry by the State’s Ethic Commission.
Well, there you have it … a classic case of a “conftict of interest.” City Administrator Manchester is a “compensated” employee reporting directly to Manchester the Mayor. And the Mayor as the “chief executive officer” of the city directly supervises himself as the City Administrator. Now, how much sense does that make??? Put it all together and John Manchester is in clear violation of the Ethics Commission. It’s plain and simple, and simple to fix.
Terry Wodder
Lewisburg