Milledgeville Mayor Gary L. Thrower is going to court to fight a recent city ethics board finding that he violated the city’s ethics ordinance earlier this year, The Union-Recorder has learned.
“I am appealing the decision by the city ethics board,” said Thrower, following Tuesday night’s city council meeting. “I want people that understand the law to see it and then if they say I have a problem, then I will accept it and move on.”
Thrower, who is in his first term as the city’s top elected official, said it appeared to him that members of the city’s ethics board were “hung up” on the word, perception.
A three-member city ethics board made up of Patricia Hicks, who serves as chairwoman; Dr. Jeff Siler, and Irvin E. Griffin heard testimony and received documentation evidence May 2 concerning an ethics complaint that was filed against the mayor by Virginia Lynn Knapp following a decision that Thrower made earlier this year at a city council meeting.
Knapp won her case.
The findings of the ethics board were later sent to individual members of city council.
In letters to the elected members of city council, the ethics board wrote: “The board of ethics by a unanimous vote has found that Mayor Thrower violated Section 2-226 of the ethics ordinance.”
Specifically, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the newspaper, the city ethics board found that Thrower participated in a vote or decision on a matter affecting property in which he “had a substantial interest” as that term is defined in Section 2-224 of the ethics ordinance.
The letter from the ethics board to members of city council was submitted just a day after the ethics board found in favor of Knapp’s complaint.
Members of city council can take various steps against the mayor as a result of the finding by the city ethics board or decide to do nothing at all.
“They can simply accept the decision rendered by the ethics board, meaning do nothing,” Thrower said. “Or they can censure me and I’m not exactly sure what that means. They could also issue a public reprimand against me, and they could even ask me to resign. They couldn’t make me resign, but they could asked me to.”
The mayor said he had “zero interest” in property owned by Richard Sims, a developer and who calls Milledgeville his home. Two properties owned by Sims were granted a special use permit in the city’s historic district. During a Jan. 10 city council meeting, Thrower broke two tie city council votes regarding the property rezoning requests.
“The fact that they had that overlay that the council voted on, and I didn’t vote on that to allow those two parcels to come into the mix a month or two ago,” Thrower said. “And then he (Sims) came back with a plan and then it was a 3-3 tie, but before it was like a 5-1 vote.”