The good news for Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston is that he and his attorney are going to have more time to prepare their defense to an anonymous ethics complaint filed against the downtown and East Dallas representative filed earlier this year. That's thanks to an extension handed down Tuesday by Dallas' Ethics Advisory Commission.
The bad news for Kingston and his lawyer, Victor Vital, is that their fight is continuing at all.
Kingston is under fire because of a member of the public's complaint that he pushed the City Council to authorize garage-apartment rentals in the city while, at the same time, planning to build an apartment on he and his wife's garage in East Dallas.
Kingston's been a longtime proponent of garage apartments and helped pass an ordinance last summer allowing Dallas residents to apply to rent out a garage unit already built on their property. The complaint alleges that Kingston abused a second process — which ended with his subdivision loosening its accessory dwelling unit rules — so that he'd have an easier time renting out the apartment he intended to build, if he ever decided to do so.
While he's previously argued that his advocacy for the units doesn't violate city ethics rules because he was pushing for an ordinance he might benefit from, rather than one that would benefit him specifically.
Tuesday, his argument was procedural. The complaint against him shouldn't move forward, Kingston said, because he couldn't confront the person accusing him, either directly or through the complainant's proxy, the City Auditor's Office. Dallas City Code says that council members accused of violating ethics rules have a right to question those who brought the complaint against them in front of the board.
"The evidence in front of you comes from witnesses — and if I can't cross-examine them ... I should at least have the opportunity to cross-examine the city auditor," Kingston said.
Ethics Commission members refused to dismiss the complaint but agreed that the city auditor should attend Kingston's next meeting with the board. If the board finds that he violated city ethics rules, it could recommend anything from an official reprimand to Kingston's removal from office.
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