Appointment to CMCOG causes stir

WINNSBORO – The County Council meeting got off to an uneasy start Monday evening when Shirley Green, the second of three speakers during the first public comment session, suggested that an appointment was “about to take place that will raise eyebrows…because of an unethical situation of a council person appointing his landlord to the Central Midlands Council of Governments board (CMCOG).”

“Others feel that more than one councilman should recuse himself from voting on the appointment,” Green continued. “We heard at the last council meeting that only one council member and the Fairfield County administrator had seen a deed that transferred Mt. Zion to Fairfield County before the vote was taken at the meeting. I have a rubber stamp,” Green said, waving a rubber stamp in the air. “You can use this if you choose not to debate ethical ramifications of your decisions.”

A few minutes later, as the agenda called for board and commission appointments, Council Chairman Billy Smith announced that he was recusing himself from the CMCOG appointment and that his statement of conflict of interest was filed with the Clerk to Council. Smith said he rents from the person being considered by council for appointment to the CMCOG. Smith then handed the gavel to Vice-Chairwoman Bertha Goins and left the room during the proceedings for that agenda item.

Without any discussion on the matter, Council then voted 6 – 1 to appoint realtor Wanda Carnes, to the Board of Directors of CMCOG, with Councilman Mikel Trapp casting the lone dissenting vote.

The CMCOG Board represents 15 governments in the central midlands and is generally made up of elected officials from those governments. Fairfield County has one government official, Smith, and two realtors, David Brown and Wanda Carnes, on the board. Carnes will serve a three-year term on the board.

But the issue of Carnes’ appointment didn’t end there.

“Someone has emailed council members saying things without finding the truth of what is being said,” visibly agitated Councilman Jimmy Ray Douglas said as he read from a prepared statement during County Council time defending Carnes.

“Wanda Carnes is a good friend of mine and she and her husband, Lonnie, are happily married. If this person knows something that Lonnie should be told, Wanda will be happy to give this person his number.” Douglas said.

In a unanimous vote, Council also appointed Donna Miner and Benjamin Proveaux, a pilot, to the Aeronautics Commission.