Ethics meeting delayed

Friday, March 27, 2009

Conflicting personal and professional schedules at the Marshall County Attorney's office forced a delay of the County Ethics Committee meeting that was to be held Monday in the Courthouse Annex.

Condensation of a report and opinion by Attorney Ginger Shofner on circumstances surrounding former County Commission Chairman Sam Smith is taking longer than expected, Commission Chairwoman Mary Ann Neill said.

Questions have been raised about Smith's sale of a land purchase option. The farm field would have been bought by Waste Management Inc. It saw that land as suitable for another landfill in Marshall County. Another place was sought because the landfill on Mooresville Highway is reaching its capacity.

Shofner promised to make her opinion available to Smith's attorney, Bob Binkley, and leaders of the Tri-County Environmental Association before Monday's Ethics Committee meeting, but the deadline can't be met, Neill said Thursday. Binkley and Tri-County Environmental also deserve time to read, comprehend and respond to Shofner's opinion.

"It's not a stalling tactic," Neill said. "It's because counsel asked for more time."

County officials would favor a meeting delay because "We're not in a position to make a decision in an hour" after receiving the legal opinion on the night of the now-postponed meeting, Neill said. As of mid-day Thursday, no new meeting time or date had been selected.

Smith resigned in February 2008, saying he did so to avoid a conflict of interest.