Former councilman facing fine?

Published 8:53 am Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ethics complaint about Opp’s Short says work should have been bid

The Alabama Ethics Commission is citing a former Opp city councilman for using his construction company to do nearly $50,000 in work for the city while he was a sitting councilman.

Now, it’s up to the county district attorney to “sign off” on a deal that would allow the councilman to avoid a criminal charge.

Hugh Evans, legal counsel for the ethics commission, confirmed Thursday that the commission determined last week that a “minor violation” occurred when Stonewall Enterprises, and in turn, then-councilman Scotty Short, was paid by the city to construct two bathroom facilities. Both facilities are located in the city park at the recreational facility located on Barnes Street.

Short served one term as the District 1 representative, from 2008 to Nov. 4, 2012.

The Star-News on Friday obtained a copy of the complaint, which appears to have been filed by a either a city employee or a council person, and states, “In reviewing information and documents in my new position, certain information has come to my attention” that showed there were no records of the council approving the projects in meeting minutes nor was it advertised for bids. According to information on the secretary of state’s web site, Short is listed as on owner of Stonewall Enterprises LLC along with Terry Brett Ballard of Opp. The complaint stated that Short and his construction crew completed the work on the projects.

Total cost for the projects was $66,307 –$48,550 for labor and $17,757 for materials.

The complaint alleged Short was in violation of Code 36-25-5 (a), use of official position or office for personal gain; Code 36-25-11, public officials or employees entering into contracts which are to be paid out by government funds; and Code 11-43-12, which states that no officer or employee of the municipality shall be directly or indirectly interested in any work, business or contract, the expense, price or consideration of which is paid from the treasury, nor shall any member of the council or officer of the municipality be surety for any person having a contract, work or business with such municipality for the performance of which a surety may be required.

Evans said that Short’s request to the commission for administrative resolution for the case was granted and that he could face up to a $1,000 fine.

“But that must be signed off by the county district attorney before we can levy an administrative penalty against him,” Evans said.

District Attorney Walt Merrell said late Friday that he has not yet received any paperwork from the Ethics Commission, nor seen a copy of the complaint.

Short declined comment.