TYBEE ISLAND – When the plastic bag ban was tabled in April following heavy opposition it looked like a lost cause.
Now members of Forever Tybee, a political action committee, and the city’s Community Resource Committee, who drafted the plastic bag ban, say councilwoman Wanda Doyle violated city ethics in her efforts to get business leaders to lobby against the ordinance.
“When you have a board member disagree with the decision made by the body, who would bypass the chief executive officer and go and hijack staff and carry out personal projects, that just wouldn’t work, and that’s what we have here,” says Forever Tybee president Freda Rutherford.
Rutherford says that’s exactly what mayor pro-tem Wanda Doyle did in order to draw a crowd of opposition to the next meeting on the plastic bag ban.
“She’s asking the business community to lobby against her peers on council who voted for this and the community resources committee to make members to turn around this decision, that’s what she’s asking otherwise she’s using city staff to lobby,” says Rutherford.
She backs these allegations after a Tybee business member forwarded her an mail councilwoman Doyle sent to city clerk Jan Leviner requesting her to send out the plastic bag ordinance to business leaders. Leviner then went on to forward the request to city staffer Chantle Morton to send out over newsletters she used connected with local businesses.
We spoke with Doyle’s attorney who says she was just making sure everyone’s voice was heard.
“We believe that strongly she was acting in the best interest of the citizens of Tybee island and she was performing her responsibilities as an elected official should be,” says Tom Mahoney Jr. who represents Doyle.
The email, enclosed in this article, does point out Doyle’s request to send the draft of the ordinance to local businesses to get their attention on the date of the vote.
Rutherford claims this violated Tybee City Code of Ethics Sect. 23-12 using city personnel for unauthorized projects as well as a violation of the codes use of public property.
Since the allegations are being brought on a council member the ethics committee is required to seek council outside of the city. members of the ethics commission believe the allegations are credible and will hold a public hearing.
Editor’s Note: A correction was made to the previous version of this article, Forever Tybee has taken no formal stance on this issue, the ethics complaint was filed by the Community Resource Committee.