Atlanta’s Board of Ethics, which has operated for six months without an ethics officer, will have to make do a bit longer. Stacey Kalberman, the board’s unanimous choice for the job, withdrew Sunday as the City Council pondered whether to choose the ethics officer itself. “I frankly became disheartened when that happened,” Kalberman said.
An Atlanta city councilman who tangled with the city’s ethics officer last year wants to place that job under the council’s control. Lamar Willis‘ proposal calls for the Board of Ethics to give the council three names to consider, rather than just one, to fill a vacancy pending since September. Ethics advocates fear the plan would politicize the appointment process and jeopardize the board’s independence. Former ethics officer Ginny Looney won settlements against Willis and five other council members since 2008
. Willis said his proposal has nothing to do with his $3,500 ethics fine nor his complaint that the board’s case against him was “piling on” and not even “remotely necessary.”
Atlanta City Council member Cleta Winslow just paid an ethics fine for spending $5,420 of taxpayers’ money to boost her 2009 re-election campaign. But taxpayers also picked up the tab for nearly $29,000 more in spending that promoted Winslow’s name in the final weeks before last year’s voting. The payments blurred the line drawn by the city’s Ethics Code to separate city-sponsored events and campaign activities. Winslow collected reimbursements from her city expense account for jazz musicians, a disc jockey, an inflatable bouncer, a popcorn machine and other equipment, plus $8,000 worth of barbecue and side dishes. Click here for my full story on ajc.com. Click here for supporting documents for this story.
Twice a year, members of the Cobb County ethics board meet to deal with housekeeping matters. Then they go home. For a time last year, DeKalb’s ethics board couldn’t even muster a quorum. And in Fulton, a state legislator contends the ethics board cannot impose fines or sanctions because its members were appointed improperly. Bottom line: Local ethics boards get no respect.