Aug. 17, 2012 — If there’s a better way to piss off students and journalists than letting a condescending adman tell students how to run their newspaper, I can’t imagine what it would be. That, I would guess, is why UGA’s Harry Montevideo makes the big bucks. Montevideo — publisher of the Red & Black, whose key editorial staffers walked out this week — collected nearly $190,000 in salary a year ago from the non-profit that runs the student paper, tax records show.
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.
The University of West Georgia may have broken whistleblower protection and open records laws, as well as state purchasing rules, a state investigation suggests. James Naughton thinks so too. He’s filed suit alleging his boss, Michael Ruffner, fired him for questioning the unauthorized hiring of a Washington lobbyist and misleading the school’s foundation in order to jack up fees charged to donors.
The head of the Georgia Lottery made about a half-million dollars last year, but you wouldn’t know it if you checked salary data on the state auditor’s website. Open.Georgia.gov shows Margaret DeFrancisco was paid $353,500 in salary in FY2010. What it doesn’t tell you is that the lottery paid her a bonus of $143,276 last year. What’s up with that?
What’s the difference between an apparent conflict of interest and the real deal? In the world of government ethics, it’s all about the language crafted by the lawyers and the wiggle room they’ve left for other lawyers to argue about. Ethics codes in Georgia vary from one jurisdiction to another. Many prohibit a public officer from trading on his or her position for personal benefit but, as they say, the devil’s in the details.
Two DeKalb County housing officials face an ethics inquiry into their requests for charitable and political donations from a developer doing business with their agency. An Oct. 19 hearing is scheduled for Dorothy Williams and former state Rep. George Maddox, both members of the DeKalb County Housing Authority’s board, who asked developer Dave Dixon to give to various causes. Dixon said he or his business gave them each $2,500 for a total of $5,000.
The founder of the PATH Foundation may continue to serve on the board of the DeKalb County Development Authority, the county’s Board of Ethics ruled tonight. DeKalb has paid PATH $8 million since 2004 to manage construction of biking and hiking trails in the county. Neighborhood activists complained that PATH’s executive director, Ed McBrayer, had a conflict of interest because he also serves on the authority’s board.
A top DeKalb economic development official has a conflict of interest because he also heads a group that’s received $8 million in county payments, the DeKalb ethics board was told Wednesday night. McBrayer “is very clearly receiving a benefit from the PATH Foundation,” which has collected $8 million from DeKalb since 2004, said Brian Daughdrill, lawyer for a neighborhood group that lodged a complaint. But McBrayer’s lawyer, Elizabeth Branch, said those restrictions apply only to for-profit businesses, not non-profits: “Being a non-profit makes all the difference in the world.”
Sterling Bethea, the executive director of the DeKalb County Housing Authority, resigned Tuesday as federal investigators continued to pore over the agency’s financial records. “He just decided that he wanted to move on,” board member George Maddox said, “and to be honest with you we didn’t have a problem with it.”
Atlanta’s chief operating officer, Peter Aman, must disqualify himself from discussing city business involving Delta Air Lines or any other client of his consulting firm, the city’s Board of Ethics said tonight. But, the board said, he’s fine if he wants to talk to Delta about budget issues or other matters that affect all tenants at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis appointed Bobbie Kennedy Sanford and Isaac Blythers to the county’s board of ethics on Wednesday, giving the long-neglected panel enough members to actually have a quorum and do its business. Chairwoman Teri Lee Thompson had been complaining for more than a year that the board could not function unless it got some new appointees. “It’s like we exist, but not really,” she said.
A conflicted committee of the MARTA board today recommended hiring a company that employs the daughter of one of its members. Edelman Public Relations is clearly the best choice to run a marketing campaign aimed at marshaling public support for MARTA during the 2010 state legislative session, agency staffers said. The problem: Board member Barbara Babbit Kaufman‘s daughter is a senior VP at Edelman.