Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ethics Panel Member Wants New Hearing Date; He Can't Attend Sept. 6 Meeting to Consider His Removal from Panel

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ethics Panel Member Wants New Hearing Date; He Can't Attend Sept. 6 Meeting to Consider His Removal from Panel

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

ST. MARYS Bob Nutter, a founding member of the city's Ethics Commission, said Tuesday he cannot attend a Sept. 6 City Council hearing to consider his removal and has offered three later dates.

In adopting the Sept. 6 date at its Monday night meeting, the council did not ask Nutter if he was available although he was at the meeting and spoke later. The council took the vote after Mayor Bill DeLoughy said several individuals had complained that Nutter was biased.

Nutter said he had plans to be out of town that day and will not change them.

"I was not consulted in any way about this timeline," he said Tuesday. "If they insist on going through with this hearing on that date, we'll let that reflect on the City Council."

Lawyer Jim Stein, who is helping Nutter, said the council could not consider the matter without Nutter being there.

"He's entitled to due process. That would not be due process," Stein said.

The matter was added to the council agenda last week. Although no one contacted Nutter, it appeared at least one person, Councilwoman Deborah Hase, had spent some time on the issue. She had prepared a timeline that she presented as a motion that she, Councilmen Jim Morrissey and Chuck Trader voted to approve and that Councilman Greg Bird voted against. Keith Post and Sidney Howell were absent.

Anyone with a complaint against Nutter has until Friday to provide it to the city. City Attorney Gary Moore will provide Nutter with a list of the charges Tuesday.

Moore said he will research all of the complaints to see if they rise to legal cause to remove an ethics panel member.

"Council would still have to decide if those charges are serious enough to warrant removal," Moore said.

As a founding member of the St. Marys Ethics Commission, Nutter has served since January 2009 and said he is familiar with all the seven-member panel's rules, having written the enabling ordinances. …

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