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More resignations over controversial law regarding conflict of interest

 

In the latest of what’s expected will be more resignations surrounding a controversial state law governing conflict of interest, local attorney Larry Rocconi Jr has submitted his resignation to Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan.  Rocconi serviced on the Public Building Authority, Regional Planning Commission and Clarksville/Montgomery County Sports Authority.  He was appointed to the Planning Commission by McMillan, but was already serving on the other boards when McMillan took office.

Mayor McMillan notified city council members of his resignation Wednesday.  Rocconi’s resignation letter did not state a reason for his actions, but McMillan told the council that she believed it was concerns over Article IV, Section 12 of the Clarksville City Charter that would preclude him from representing the City in legal matters as long as he remained on the Planning Commission.  Rocconi’s law firm, Cunningham Mitchell & Rocconi has done business with the city and doesn’t want a potential conflict in the future.

Earlier this week, Airport Authority board member Jerry Clark resigned after it was disclosed to him by both Mayor McMillan and County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, that according to the County Purchasing Act of 1957, Clark could either serve on the Authority, OR do business with the County, but he couldn’t do both.   Clark does not do business with the Airport, but has done business with the County.

Montgomery County officials have not identified other individuals who could pose a conflict.  Rocconi is the first city of Clarksville board member to resign as a result of the issue.   Lance Baker, attorney for the City of Clarksville, said the above ordinance of the city charter has apparently been in effect since 1929, but has only recently been brought to the city’s attention.  “Mayor McMillan and I are looking into the implications of the provision and will provide a thorough discussion of the matter and potential future steps at the Executive Session of the city council, Thursday night.”

Other board members who have been discussed include Wayne Wilkinson, who is chairman of the CDE  Power Board.  “I’ve had discussions with Mr. Wilkinson about our concerns, and he has chosen to remain on the board at this time” said Baker. “He’s aware that there is potential for conflict in the future, according to the letter of the law” Baker said.  When asked about his decision, Wilkinson said, “my firm is not doing business with the city at this time, and if the issue arises in the future, I will evaluate it at that time.”  The law in question means that no member of a person’s company can do business with the city or county, not just the board member in question.  The law could also pose problems for city councilwoman Deanna McLaughlin, whose husband is a Clarksville police officer.  City officials say they haven’t determined if the law applies to that situation or not.

This discovery by CTAS officials over potential conflict of interest, has been cause for concern among many elected officials in both the city and county, since first reported by Wjzm news talk radio, and Clarksville Online.  The majority opinion about the matter is that it’s a bad law.  City Attorney Lance Baker said, “Mayor McMillan plans to take this issue to the State Legislature when they return to session and have changes made to the charter.”

 

 


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