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New ethics board changes moves forward, passes first reading
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After months of discussion and years after the law enabling the ethics board was passed, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners chose a new ethics board proposal Tuesday.

During the county commission's voting session, Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt seconded Post 2 Commissioner's JaNice Van Ness motion to approve the first reading of her proposed ethics ordinance, which will have a three-member board with appointments from the Rockdale Bar Association, the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce and the Rockdale Coalition of Homeowners and Civic Associations.

Van Ness made a last minute change during her motion by removing the county commission's appointment from her proposal and adding the Rockdale Coalition of Homeowners and Civic Associations appointment of a member from their organization.

"In reviewing the organizations that would be established organizations and recommending bodies, I felt that would be the most representative of the community and neighborhoods in the community," Van Ness said in justyfing making the swap.

The second ethics ordinance proposal on the table, proposed by Rockdale County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden, died for lack of a second.

Oden's ethics ordinance proposal would allow one ethics commission member to be appointed by the Rockdale County Democratic Party, one by the Rockdale County Republican Party and one by the Rockdale Bar Association.

Nesbitt, who is on record of stating that he doesn't support using political parties to determine outcomes of ethical issues, didn't hesitate to support the Van Ness' proposal.

"I think it's important that as we represent the total community of Rockdale County, that we move forward removing any racial barriers, political barriers that hold this community at bay," said Nesbitt. "It's time we move the total community, all Rockdale County, all of Conyers, together forward. I think this proposal absolutely does that, and it does it in the best interest of each and every citizen regardless of party lines, regardless of gender, regardless of race. I think that's important, so therefore, I give my support."

If this new proposal is approved on the second reading, it would replace the long-standing ethics board ordinance that was approved by the county board in 2008 but has never been initiated.

The existing law for ethics board, which hears ethics complaints filed against county commissioners, outline that the board be composed of one person appointed by the Rockdale Bar Association, one person appointed by the Board of Commissioners as voted on by the majority of commissioners, and one appointed by county employees who live in the county drawn from a list of nominees chosen by the Rockdale Coalition of Homeowners and Civic Associations.