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County Council August 22, 2006

Treading lightly over voting for Outside Agency contributions
But P&C still finds fault
Warwick Jones

The issue over contributions to Outside Agencies (charities) was pretty well wrapped up at the Finance Committee meeting last week. All that remained was to finalize the new policy and amend the list of recipients in the light of the new policy. Council did this last night but some Council members decided to recuse themselves on some votes because of their connection to the charities.

"Slap on wrist" by Ethics Commission
Council member Darby stated that recently he met with a representative of the SC Ethics Commission. The Commission requested the meeting because he had voted at an earlier Council meeting for a contribution to the Denmark Vesey Memorial Fund of which he was the Chairman. Legally he should not have done so, it seems. He should have recused himself from voting. It also seemed incredulous to Council that this was an issue, as Council member Darby had no financial interest in the fund. Fortunately, he received only a "slap on the wrist". But he did wonder why he was singled out on Council. He was aware of other Council members who served on boards of bodies that we were recipients of funds though he gave no names. (We know Council member Fava serves on the Aquarium Board and voted it funds.)

Some members abstain from voting
Council members Scott and Darby abstained from voting to the charities on whose boards they served while Council member Inabinett noted that he was a director of CARTA and wondered whether he too had transgressed by not recusing himself in voting on financing issues in the past. He asked that Legal establish precisely the position of Council members on these issues.

Chairman Stavrinakis seemed to suggest that members were getting carried away and opined that as Council member Inabinett was appointed by the Council to the CARTA board, there was no issue of ethics violation. He went on to applaud Council for wrapping up the Outside Agencies issue and acknowledged that differences existed amongst Council members as to the policy and the distributions. He reminded Council that the charities do a lot of good work. The cost to the County would be much more (than the $315,000 outlay this year) if it undertook the tasks itself.

Each council member distributed $35,000. Press Here to see recipients and amounts.

Post and Courier unhappy about "informal" meeting
Council members probably sighed with exasperation when they read today's edition of the Post and Courier. The tried very had last night to stay within the law. But according to the P&C they failed. Clustered in the room outside the Council Chamber, and taking a break between the Planning and Council meetings, sufficient Council members had gathered for a quorum to exist. Not all members were there and it seems that nobody was counting as to whether the numbers represented a quorum - nobody that is except the P&C. The P&C alleges that members were discussing Outside Agencies. If this is the case, and the numbers represented a quorum, the members were transgressing. At least that is the opinion of the newspaper's attorney We don't know whether the attorney's opinion is correct, but it does seem "hair splitting". If you called it an "executive session" would the issue disappear?

Chairman acknowledges some changes were needed at CARTA
CARTA's budget for fiscal 2007 was before the Council last night. It already saw the light of day at a City Council meeting about a month or so ago or so there was nothing new. Council members Bostic, Scott and Mc Keown voted against accepting it, with Council member Bostic indicating unhappiness with CARTA's performance and the need "to send less" to CARTA in future. Chairman Stavrinakis acknowledged that he and Council member Fava had pushed hard for changes in the performance and budgeting of the entity and noted a marked improvement. He noted that the budget document this year was far more substantial than last, acknowledging that more "meat was necessary".

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