Code of ethics discussed but not approved at DSS meeting

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA—Recently resigned, then reappointed DSS board member Tina Jackson was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, causing board member David Grimes to ask to table two of the agenda’s items.

One of the items Grimes sought to table was a DSS compact board chairman Charles Warren sent to board members last week.

“What I emailed out to the board was the Department of Social Services compact. I did not receive any feedback regarding this compact, so what I am going to ask for is a motion to approve the compact,” he said.

Grimes, whose first DSS meeting was Tuesday, asked if board members could table the compact because he hadn’t had time to review it, and because Jackson was absent.

“I sent it to you via email,” Warren replied. “I wanted to try to get this taken care of. That’s why I sent out.”

Board member Pat Sykes said she, too, wanted to table the vote.

“I left my notes at home in reference to the compact. I didn’t know it would be on the agenda today. I disagree with it. I don’t think we need any more documents. Everything we are supposed to do as a board is already in the handbook. I agree with Mr. Grimes, that we need to table it, then our other board member will be here,” Sykes said.

Board member Bernest Hewett moved for its approval, which Warren seconded. Sykes and Grimes voted against the measure, leading to a tie.

“I guess a tie being a tie, there’s no one to break that tie,” Warren said.

The matter essentially dies because of the tie, DSS Director Patty Connolly said. Connolly said she would bring up the item on the next board agenda since the matter failed.

Grimes then asked they table adopting a board code of ethics, again, because Jackson was absent.

Warren tried to get Jackson on the phone to see if she could make it to the meeting.

“I’ve been at Duke this morning, three hours away. If a person wants to be here, they’ll be here if they can be here. I think we need to move forward and table these items, or just do away with it,” Sykes said.

Sykes and Grimes asked to table the items, but no formal vote was taken. Like the first item, the matter essentially died. 

Connolly said she planned to also include this item on the next agenda.

Public comments

Local activist Ginny Quaglia asked for Warren to step down at the beginning of the meeting.

Calling him the “most non-transparent” public official, she said Warren’s code of ethics proposed to board members violated board members’ right to free speech and personal action as he declared himself the board spokesperson.

“Many of the individuals on boards are volunteers with differing views and opinions. If we wanted a dictator, we would not need boards,” she said.

“Again, Mr. Warren, why are you afraid of public access? Do you find any of this embarrassing?”

“None, whatsoever,” Warren replied.