Supervisors question late agenda items, nepotism

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Also, Grayson supervisors chose John Brewer as 2014 chairman and Brenda Sutherland as vice-chairman.

By Patrick Smith

INDEPENDENCE — After the last month’s rather divisive Grayson County Board of Supervisors meetings, this Monday’s organizational meeting was calm by comparison.
However, some lingering tensions simmered beneath the surface.
For example,  Oldtown District Supervisor and former chairman Kenneth Belton inquired about establishing an anti-nepotism policy, while Wilson District Supervisor Glen Rosenbaum questioned whether the board could amend its rules of procedure to allow items to be added to the board’s agenda at a meeting.

Nearly 40 people attended the 20-minute meeting, filling every seat in the board room.
The board appointed a new chair and vice chair on Jan. 6 to begin 2014.
Providence District Supervisor John Brewer was appointed chairman, following a nomination by supervisor-at-large David Sexton and a unanimous vote by the board. For vice chair, Eddie Rosenbaum nominated Elk Creek District Supervisor Brenda Sutherland, and the board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
These were among the first unanimous votes cast by the board recently, which split 3-2 on a trio of controversial issues in December.
In other personnel appointments, County Administrator Jonathan Sweet was re-appointed as clerk of the board by a unanimous vote, and Assistant County Administrator Mitch Smith was re-appointed as the deputy clerk.
After the personnel appointments, the supervisors were asked to vote to approve and adhere to the board’s rules of procedure in 2014.
Before the vote, supervisor Kenneth Belton inquired about the possibility of adding to the rules a section on nepotism in regard to board appointed positions.
At the board’s contentious Dec. 12 meeting, Rosenbaum’s wife, Donna Rosenbaum, was appointed to the Workforce Investment Board and the CSA Family Management Policy Team. Brewer’s wife, Stephanie, resigned from the Grayson Planning Commission at that meeting, and the supervisors appointed Brewer as their representative on the planning commission.
An anti-nepotism policy would prevent the supervisors from hiring or appointing close relatives to county positions.
Answering Belton’s inquiry, Sweet clarified that nepotism would be loosely defined as the hiring or appointing of family of board members and would be referred to as an “anti-nepotism policy.”
He said the board would need to specifically define nepotism and what the potential rule would apply to in order to bring a policy into effect. He added that the potential policy would at least need to reference immediate family.
Sweet said the issue would likely need to be continued in discussion during a future meeting of the board and go through a process of approval.
Sexton agreed, adding that he had some examples of other nepotism policies the board could refer to.  “A nepotism policy couldn’t be written tonight,” he said. “It would take some work.”
Following that discussion, Rosenbaum asked Sweet about deadlines for late additions to meeting agendas.
Last month, Belton and Sutherland objected to the late addition of items to the December agenda, such as a proposed repeal of the zoning ordinance and disbanding the county’s recreation policy advisory committee. As with other votes at that meeting, the addition of those items to the agenda passed by a 3-2 vote.
Later, those same issues passed the board by the same margin, with the same three supervisors forming a majority.
Sweet said that, per the rules, additions must be made a week prior to the meeting.
“Transparency is adhered to for the public’s sake and the media’s sake,” Sweet said.
The only exception for late additions, Sweet said, are items of discussion deemed time-sensitive or emergency in nature.
After Sweet’s explanation of deadlines and his assurance to the board that an anti-nepotism policy could be included at a later date, the board voted unanimously to approve the rules of procedure.