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Commissioners work to avoid conflicts
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To get right to the heart of things — Bob Suelter was reappointed by the Barton County Commission to the Center for Counseling board of directors. In fact, when the vote was taken, he was unanimously reappointed.
Sometimes, the “why” of what goes on in local government takes more time to explain than does the “what.”
It was the “why” that took up considerable time in Monday’s commission meeting, when Commission Chairman Kirby Krier raised the question of whether Commissioner Jennifer Schartz should recuse herself from the vote on Suelter’s reappointment.
It all hinged on Schartz also being a member of the Center’s board of directors. She represents the county on that board.
Krier’s question was, since Schartz and the other board members vote on issues that affect spending at the Center, and since the Center receives county funds, does that mean that a member of the commission would have a conflict of interest in setting someone else on that board.
County Administrator Richard Boeckman made it clear that Schartz doesn’t have an opportunity to personally profit from the decisions made by the Center board of directors and there would be no votes taken that would be to her personal financial benefit; therefore there would be no conflict of interest.
As the discussion continued, Commissioner John Edmonds discussed why he opts out on some votes taken involving the county’s regular bills. It is because the chairman of his campaign organization also does work for the county and he wants to make sure there is not even the suggestion of a conflict of interest on his part, even though he wouldn’t personally benefit from the vote.
On the other hand, Edmonds noted that he works on a “pro bono” basis as the accountant for the Barton County Historical Society — he does it for free — and he doesn’t recuse himself from votes involving the society because he has no connection there, except as a volunteer. That creates no conflict of interest.
In another appointment issue, the commission also approved the appointment of Larry Buczinski, Ellinwood, to the Memorial Parks Advisory Committee.