Yount, Zollicoffer, debate ethics policy


The normally serene report of the Journal Committee, chaired by Henderson City Council member Elissa Yount, approached controversy Monday as City Attorney John Zollicoffer stymied a possible vote on an ethics policy developed by Yount and her committee.

The Jounal Committee’s policy, which was developed from the North Carolina state ethics policy, may be viewed here.

As Yount discussed the policy and recommended it on behalf of the committee, telling council members that it agrees with the state policy and could be voted on that night, the normally retiring Zollicoffer volunteered to Yount that he would like to review the policy.

Zollicoffer claimed that some aspects of the policy were pre-empted by state law. He claimed that the policy would cause actions to be taken against elected officials.

“We’re limited in what we can do,” the city attorney said.

Zollicoffer also said that there were problems with the definitions of conflicts of interest.

The city attorney also claimed that there was a state ethics policy specifically for municipalities.

Yount agreed to take the matter up again at the next meeting, but asked Zollicoffer to work off of the existing document.

“We especially didn’t want to re-invent the wheel and incur a lot of expense doing it,” Yount advised the attorney.

“It’s y’all’s money,” Yount continued, appealing to the council.

Zollicoffer replied that he would work from both documents, although it was unclear what the other document is.

“If you don’t want to pay me to do it, that’s fine,” Zollicoffer said. “There are some problems when you’re, in effect, stealing portions of a…state law.”

The council will most likely consider the ethics policy once again at the next council meeting.

According to Yount, the council has already voted to adopt an ethics policy based on the state policy.