Comission, council member’s appointment to nonprofit board unethical

To the editor:

There are legal conflicts of interest, and there are ethical conflicts of interest.

Most politicians do a good job of staying away from the legal conflicts of interest. Ethical conflicts of interest are another thing.

In my opinion, some county politicians are having a hard time recognizing that they have placed themselves into what I call an ethical conflict of interest.

Council member Kent Fisk’s and Commissioner Tom Stevens’ placement on the board of directors as president and vice president of the Hancock County Exposition Complex Corporation (HCECC) is one such conflict of interest.

They are actively involved in the formation of the lease for the county farm property to this corporation, and they will be voting as commissioner and council member for the approval of this lease and possible county taxpayer funds to support this corporation.

This is the ethical conflict of interest.

There is no need for a sitting commissioner or council member to serve on the board of directors of the HCECC. Their commissioner and council member duties don’t magically stop when they put on the corporation board of directors hat. If anything, they need to ensure their impartiality in the matter, and they can’t do that if they are members of the board of directors of the corporation.

If they remain on the board, they must refrain from voting or engaging in any discussion of any items pertaining to the exposition center/fairgrounds while sitting as a member of the Hancock County Board of Commissioners or county council. If they have any comments, they need to come down to public gallery and raise their hand to be recognized like the rest of us ordinary county taxpayers/citizens.

Currently, the county funds the 4-H fair with $80,000 to $85,000 a year, and I have no problem with this. The 4-H fair provides valuable opportunities for our children and grandchildren. I have a granddaughter who is involved with the 4-H fair, and I support the movement of the 4-H fairgrounds.

My problem is with how they are going about promoting the project. It is no longer a simple matter of moving and building a new fairground. It is far, far more. And I do not see the benefit or understand the push to form a nonprofit benefit corporation to develop the county farm.

George Langston