Americus city manager censured by international organization

Published 12:37 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019

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By Beth Alston


AMERICUS — Americus’ city manager, Charles Coney, has been censured by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for something that occurred during his tenure as Fitzgerald city manager. The ICMA executive board approved the censure at its June 8 meeting.

According to the ICMA, Coney, former city manager of Hampton and current Americus city manager, was “publicly censured for conduct in violation of Tenet 7 of the ICMA Code of Ethics. “Coney has an affirmative responsibility to comply with the ICMA Code of Ethics, and when notified that his dual responsibilities constituted a violation of the Code, failed to take timely action to remedy the situation.”

Martha Perego of the ICMA, explained that Coney violated Tenet 7 of the ICMA Code of Ethics because he was serving as an elected official (as a city councilmember on Fitzgerald in 2013) while also working for a local government, including as a city manager for Macon-Bibb County at the same time. “ICMA members are committed to political neutrality and serving in those two rolls simultaneously violates the principle of political neutrality,” Perego told the Times-Recorder. She also explained that Coney joined ICMA in 2015. and when he was appointed city manager for Hamilton in 2018, the news article announcing his appointment referenced the fact that he was also an elected official. “That triggered ICMA’s review process because we received a formal complaint,” she said.

Americus Mayor Barry Blount said he still has full confidence in Coney. “Part of his employment contract with the city of Americus when he was hired was that he would resign from the city of Fitzgerald as a council member, which he did the day he began employment with us,” Blount said. “So there really is no conflict or any repercussion as far as with his employment with the city of Americus.”

Coney issued the following when the censure was made public. “While there are some who are asking, how is it that Charles was both an elected official and an administrator at the same time. Briefly, I share with you my background. I was born and raised in Fitzgerald, Georgia; a community in rural South Georgia with a population of approximately 8K. After completing high school, I traveled and live across the entire United States from coast to coast in metropolitan communities building a high performing stellar career in Fortune 500 companies as an executive leader and finally as a Consultant. Why did I leave those large communities, Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte, etc., to return to my humble beginnings? Like so many others, I became the primary caregiver for my aged parents. Yes, it was an adjustment that now has lasted over 15 years; however, I would do it all over again. While home in an “early retirement” mode, my community leaders and citizens asked me to bring my skills and experiences to the nucleus for community betterment and engagement. That is how I entered my elected position. You will find attached an acknowledgement where the local Chamber of Commerce created an award to recognize my work. This interaction allowed me to travel across the state and nation now in the capacity as City Councilman reconnecting with persons I had known in the private sector, now in my public position.”