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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Illegal-- No Way, Immoral-- I'd Say So

I am not and have never been a member of the Main Street Marketing and Promotions Committee. I am however a member of the Main St Organization Committee.

I would like to speak about the process by which a volunteer chair of a volunteer committee ended up profiting by the work done by his volunteers.

While I am certain that the City has done nothing illegal, I am equally certain that something immoral has occurred.

I am speaking publicly because two previous private conversations – one in the Organization Committee and one with the Main Street Manager – have not produced visible results.

I volunteered for Main Street because I wanted to effect positive change in this community. I’m certain this is why all of us who came forward with our time did so. As grant money flows into our city, for Main Street and other initiatives and programs, it is important that we make sure that we have proper procedures in place for awarding contracts, and that fiduciary issues are made transparent.

It was a conflict of interest for a volunteer chair to solicit funding for his company to produce a logo based on the work of his committee, pure and simple. But what’s done is done. I only fear that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and that the City has awarded other contracts despite potential conflicts of interest.

I therefore ask Council to work with the administration to put into place a conflict of interest policy for all employees and volunteers, be they on Main Street or any other program or committee in which public monies are involved.

I ask Council to work with the administration to put procedures into place to ensure that not only volunteer committee members but also the community at large is aware of how the money that helps fund Main Street and other committees is being spent.

I am empowered to do no more than speak on these issues, so I ask you who are empowered to act to do so on behalf of us, your constituents.

El Warner

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