At least one Rutherford County commissioner says it's "outrageous" for two of his colleagues to chair committees that supervise departments in which they or their family members are employed.Conflicts of interest can create a bad view of a committee or council. Sometimes the old saying about "killing the messenger" is true.
Commissioner Mike Sparks, who earlier this year unsuccessfully sought commission support for a state bill to bar county employees from serving as county commissioners, questioned the re-election of Gary Farley and Joe Frank Jernigan as committee chairmen.
Sparks said Farley, who was re-elected chair of the Public Safety Committee Thursday, has a conflict of interest because his son, Bobby Farley, is a sheriff's deputy, while Jernigan, who was re-elected to chair the Public Works Committee, has a conflict because he is employed as assistant highway director for the county.
"I don't see how they can be objective," Sparks said. "We've still got the good-old-boy system and if we don't change something we're just going to get the same old results on it."
Sparks said he knows his position about commission conflicts is unpopular, but he is willing to be unpopular to get his point across.Our own city council's Tony Dover often reads a message that he has a possible conflict but is voting his conscious. Impressed the heck out of me the first time I heard him read it and still does.
"People tell me, 'Mike, that's just political, you got to live with it,'" Sparks said. "I'm not going to live with it."
One thing that modern online newspapers offer is a forum for comments on stories. The DNJ's forum on this article has some interesting comments.
note: this post's title is from a comment in the DNJ forums.