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DeKalb ethics board gets quorum — finally
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis announced two appointments Wednesday to the county’s board of ethics. The action gives the long-neglected board enough members to actually have a quorum and do its business.
The new members are Bobbie Kennedy Sanford, widow of the late DeKalb Commissioner Porter Sanford III, and Isaac Blythers, retired president of Atlanta Gas Light Co. Ellis’ news release provides the details.
Inattention from the county commission and CEO, as chronicled in the AJC and by WSB-TV’s Richard Belcher, has left the board languishing with no power to resolve ethics complaints. Several of the seven members’ terms had expired, and the board could do nothing — for lack of a quorum — if just one of the remaining members didn’t show up for a meeting.
In June, the board had to postpone a hearing on a complaint against Gerald Bryant, a member of the DeKalb Board of Tax Assessors. A few weeks later, chairwoman Teri Lee Thompson said she would stop calling meetings until the board had enough members were to function.
“I don’t care how many complaints are filed,” she said. “I’m not going to schedule hearings and have people come out if we don’t have members.”
At the time, Thompson said she had repeatedly sent letters and e-mails to the commission and CEO’s office asking for new appointments.
“They just go in a dark hole,” she said. “It’s like we exist, but not really.”
The board …
serves to interpret the Code of Ethics adopted by the county, to apply sanctions to those in violation of the Code, and to issue advisory opinions defining appropriate behaviors according to community standards as reflected in that Code. When complaints are registered against commissioners or other county employees or appointees over whom the Board has jurisdiction, the Board addresses the matter. If appropriate, a hearing will be scheduled and held to obtain evidence on the issue. Should the party accused be deemed to have violated the Code of Ethics, the Board will recommend appropriate penalties or sanctions.
Next up: Maybe the county can spring a few bucks to update the board’s Web site, which remains stuck in 2005.