Community concerned as Hiawassee Council maintains silence on questionable Ethics Board

News, Politics
Mayor Liz Ordiales

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Public comments were not offered from elected city officials at the Hiawassee Council regular session, held on Tuesday, Aug. 7, concerning the recent proposal of a citywide plastic bag ban-fee by Councilwoman Anne Mitchell, nor an alleged ethics ordinance breach by Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales. Information on both controversial subjects can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.

Community concerns abound due to the mayor’s overriding action to solely appoint Board of Ethics members to serve as the city’s moral monitors, without directly seeking council input as prescribed by the city mandate, nor taking the matter to vote.

Remarks made by minutes-old appointee Leslie McPeak, comparing a recent Republican event to that of the Nazi Party, during the July 30 work session, is drawing shocked critique from local leaders, and countless conservative residents of Towns County.

McPeak did not attend Tuesday’s session.

The ordinance specifically states that of the three Ethics Board members, one individual is to be appointed by the mayor, one member by the city council, and the third in joint conjunction. Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), the entity whom awarded the recognition of city of ethics to Hiawassee, cites three alternative processes that may be taken in the induction of board appointees, all of which stipulate council approval.

In a recorded conversation with FYN, following the appointment of the board members, Ordiales defended her decision by stating that council members do not have an issue with the selection. This has proven to not be the case. Two of the five council members confided that they were never presented with an option.

In attendence at Tuesday’s council meeting were members of the local organization Mountain Movers and Shakers, and the Towns County GOP, along with other new faces. Prior to the commencement of the session, an attendee asked Mayor Ordiales if questions would be received, to which Ordiales replied, “Nope, not today.”

Ordiales explained at the opening of the meeting, proceeding a climate change tax motion, that work sessions are the proper place for the council and public to present inquiries and concerns, as those forums are “informal.” Ordiales went on to state that items listed on the agenda are not necessarily issues that the council hopes to enforce, nor support, rather that the listed items present an opportunity for the council to openly discuss the matter.

The climate change resolution, proposed by local environmentalist Vernon Dixon on July 30, was rejected by council members at the Aug. 7 session.

“I have no vote,” Ordiales reminded the council, “Even if I wanted to vote on something, I can’t.” Ordiales spoke in favor of the climate fee and dividend resolution during the conversation with FYN the previous week, although the mayor said she did not have the time nor the resources to personally pursue the matter.

It is unknown at the time of publication whether the bag ban-fee, or the ethics concern, will appear on the Aug. 27 work session agenda, but the latter is expected to be addressed as two sitting council members state that they were never given ample opportunity to approve nor veto the mayor’s ethics board appointees.

Despite Ordiales’ insistence that the matter had been previously decided, former city officials attest that a formal review of Board of Ethics applicants had never taken place during their administration, and in turn, that a decision had not been reached as to which applicants should serve on the board, once the original 2016 decree was adopted. Records showing that an approval had occurred could not be produced by City Hall.

Count on FYN to follow developments as the August work session approaches.

Information on the newly-rejected Climate Change Tax resolution is available.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

3 Comments

  1. John L. Holmes August 8, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Ms. WEBB; YOU NEED NEW BATTERIES IN YOUR HEARING AIDS. You did not hear or understand what was said….or worse. The current City Counsel is the best educated and most experienced this community has ever had by far. That includes the Mayor and staff as well.
    Where was “Fetch” with your poison tipped pen during the previous administration? You would not have to fabricate or take anything out of context as you do now to write a news story.
    You own Lynn Mc Peak and the City Council an apology.

  2. James Keller Sr. August 9, 2018 at 5:59 am

    It seems to me the fault was placed on the mayor for not following the rules, not the council who had no say. A friend of ours that supports Mayor Liz was at the meeting where Member Leslie made the remarks and before the news broke,there was negative talk of her rant and this came from a lifelong democrat! In a day and age where there is real nazi mentality, attaching such a vile term to a legitimate, local political group is inexcusable.
    .

  3. Tim September 7, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    This article completely takes what was said out of context and misleads readers to a conclusion that is absolutely false. We met with the Mayor of Hiawassee and listened to the audio recording of that meeting. The person asked the city legal counsel if there were issues having certain groups holding events on the town square that is owned by the city. The group in question was a republican event, but the question did not directly concern just republicans. After the attorney replied she said that she was just wondering because you let the republicans do it you have to let democrats, Nazis, etc…do it. Her choice to use Nazis may not have been the best choice, but she in no way was comparing republicans to Nazis. That word could have been changed out for any other group and the meaning would have still been the same. The owner of this news company refuses to retract this article or make amendments to it to clarify what was said. It was obvious what the intent of this article was meant to do. I am a conservative and I find this offensive that someone would knowingly try to stir emotions with an article such as this one.

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