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Ethics board will caution mayor about decisions

August 28, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

Danville Ethics Board, in a split vote, decided Wednesday to send a letter of advisement to Mayor John W.D. Bowling that cautions him not to make decisions that could seem inappropriate.

Members Patty Overing and Ken Snowden voted for the decision, Paul Smiley against and Chairman Peter Bartuska abstained.

Bowling did not return phone calls by press time, although he has said he will release a statement.

Overing and Snowden said they felt Bowling created an appearance of impropriety when he voted not to move the entrance of Danville Manor Shopping Center because he has part ownership of the Arby's restaurant across the street.

The ethics group said it didn't believe Bowling had any thing to gain financially from the decision.

In its complaint to the ethics board, Danville Citizens for Good Government said it believed Bowling should have recused himself from the vote because as part owner of Arby's he had a financial interest at stake. The citizens group believed that Long John Silver's restaurant would have a competitive advantage over Arby's if it were easier to enter the shopping center. The entrance was supposed to go where Long John Silver's now sits.

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A motion Wednesday to have an inquiry into the matter failed. Snowden voted for it, Bartuska and Smiley against it, and Overing did not vote. A motion to dismiss the charges failed with Bartuska and Smiley voting for it and Snowden and Overing against.

Bartuska cautioned against writing the letter of advisement to Bowling.

"We keep sending letters of advisement ... the letters are put in a file somewhere and function like a gnat that can be easily squashed and ignored," he said.

Snowden objected, saying that because it will go in the newspaper, there will be public repercussions.

"And it will answer citizens concerns," said Ginny Gross, a member of DCGG.

Smiley said, "I've always been a strong consensus builder, but a letter of advisement acknowledges error, and I don't think any error has been made."

Members of DCGG, Ginny and Dick Gross, said they were pleased with the board's decision. They said they never said the mayor gained financially from the decision.

"It just isn't proper for a person on a legislative body to participate in a vote where it looks like it could be inappropriate," Dick Gross said.



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