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In December, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners adopted a code of conduct for county employees and a code of ethics for board members.
The code of ethics, which was mandated counties adopt per the General Assembly, specified county commissioners should no longer serve on county boards because of possible conflicts of interest.
The exception to this was boards where law mandated a commissioner serve. For Brunswick County, that is the county’s board of health.
All commissioners immediately stepped down from their respective boards, except commissioner Charles Warren. While he left his role on the county’s planning board, Warren has refused to leave his position on the Department of Social Services board, where he serves as chair.
The law does not mandate a commissioner has to be on the DSS board, therefore, we see no reason why Warren should continue to cling to this position.
The fact is the board adopted the code of ethics and Warren needs to do the right thing and adhere to it, just like the rest of the board has done.
Warren’s failure to leave the DSS board is creating a roadblock that is preventing the county from moving forward with building a better DSS agency.
He is being openly defiant and worse yet, his outright refusal to leave the board could ultimately cost Brunswick County taxpayers lots of money.
DSS board attorney Gary Shipman has reportedly “researched” the code of ethics issue. Shipman, we remind him and Warren, is not Warren’s personal attorney; rather he serves the county through DSS. If Warren wishes to fight with the county over semantics, he should hire his own attorney and leave county funds to pay for important county issues.
If Warren continues to refuse to leave the DSS board, the county may have no choice but to take this issue to a judge.
And guess who is going to have to foot the bill? That’s right, you, the taxpayers of Brunswick County.
Warren needs to remember this: Brunswick County voters elected him to serve as a county commissioner, not a DSS board representative. They also voted him into a position where they put their confidence in his ability to fairly and efficiently deal with county government matters.
Warren’s antics are single-handedly holding DSS—an incredibly important, valuable community agency— from moving forward. As the board searches for a new DSS director, what genuine, valuable candidate is going to throw him or herself into this circus? These behaviors are certainly lowering the expectation of potential applicants.
Warren needs to do the right thing. He needs to step down from the DSS board immediately. He needs to uphold the code of ethics that was adopted by his fellow commissioners, and he needs to let someone else become a part of the DSS board whose primary interest is doing what’s best for Brunswick County, not grandstanding on issues such as this.