Bowling Green City Commission votes on changes to Code of Ethics

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Tuesday, Bowling Green city commissioners voted on a potential amendment to the city’s code of ethics.

The proposed ordinance would have amended the section that discusses the penalties if an elected city official, city manager or senior city staffers break the code of ethics.

The proposed amendment, had it passed, would have required the person who violated the ethics code to pay for some or all of their legal fees incurred by the city if they broke the code of ethics and were thoroughly investigated. This would have alleviated the burden on the taxpayers.

This comes a year after the ethics committee investigated Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash after he was arrested and pleaded guilty to public intoxication. The city ethics committee in that case requested the ability to hire an outside attorney through the Kentucky League of Cities because they had questions the city attorney was not allowed to answer due to conflict of interest.

More than 20 citizens filed ethics complaints against Nash, City Commissioner Sue Parrigin said. The attorney cost related to the Nash ethics investigation was more than $20,000 to city taxpayers.

After much discussion, Commissioner Joe Denning made the motion that was seconded by Dana Beasley-Brown to remove the language regarding attorney fees and to work with the board of ethics on a new proposal.

The motion passed 3 to 2, meaning that the person accused of an ethics violation would not have to reimburse the city’s taxpayers for legal costs when a person is found in violation of the code of ethics. Nash, Denning and Beasely-Brown voted in favor of Denning’s motion.

“I voted ‘no’ along with the mayor to Dana Beasley-Brown and Joe Denning’s motions to remove the language holding us accountable for our actions as it regards to ethics and the burden that that causes on taxpayers of the city of Bowling Green,” Parrigin said.

“I believe that as elected officials we should be held to a higher standard of ethics and not cause a burden on the taxpayers that we represent,” Parrigin said.

The board will meet on Oct. 2 for the final vote.