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Councilman’s plan runs off 1st choice for ATL ethics officer
By JIM WALLS
March 19, 2012 — Atlanta’s Board of Ethics has operated for six months now without an ethics officer. Now it’ll have to make do just a bit longer.
Stacey Kalberman, the board’s unanimous choice for the job, withdrew her name from consideration Sunday as the City Council pondered a proposal to let it choose the ethics officer, rather than the ethics board.
“I frankly became disheartened when that happened,” Kalberman said today. “I became very skeptical after the last council meeting, not only because they held my appointment again but because Councilman [Lamar] Willis introduced legislation that would essentially allow the council to choose their own ethics officer.”
Willis’s idea, which would allow the council to choose from three finalists selected by the board, will be considered this morning by the Committee on Council. Currently, the board selects a single finalist who the council must confirm.
The proposal “strips the position of its independence,” Kalberman said. “The entire reason it was set up that way was to insure independence.”
Willis, one of five council members fined during the tenure of former ethics officer Ginny Looney, contends the position has too much power. He said his proposal has nothing to do with the $3,500 ethics fine he got last year after complaining that the board was “piling on.”
Kalberman said she’s accepted another job as a lawyer in the insurance industry, where she worked before becoming executive secretary of the State Ethics Commission in 2010. She left that position last year after the commission cut her pay by nearly 30 percent.
“I think she was disappointed in the way this appointment has been dealt with, and so are we,” board chair Caroline Tanner said, “but we understand she has to make decisions that are in her and her family’s best interests.”
Kalberman said it’s time to move on.
“I’m going back to make the world safe for insurance companies,” she said. “It seems making the world safe for insurance companies is less dangerous for me.”
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