For Immediate Release
DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council Forms Ballot Committee to Defeat Revised Ethics Act
[DeKalb County, GA]—A group of concerned DeKalb community members have formed a ballot committee to educate DeKalb County citizens on the fatal flaws contained in the revised Ethics Act to be voted on in the November 5, 2019 general election. The DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council (DeKalb Citizens) includes residents from throughout DeKalb County who are committed to ethical governance, citizen engagement and transparency in county leadership and operations.
“No legislation is better than bad legislation,” explains Mary Hinkel, chair of DeKalb Citizens. “The revised ethics act guts the independence of the ethics board, compromises the professionalism and efficiency of the board and staff, and puts up roadblocks for reporting ethics concerns. I encourage every DeKalb County citizen to review the revised act and vote “NO” on November 5.”
DeKalb Citizens has identified three primary flaws with the proposed ethics act:
Independence. The bill undermines the independence of the ethics board by giving the DeKalb County CEO and Commission review and approval of ethics boards policies and procedures. In addition, the CEO will now appoint one of the members of the ethics board. No other independent board is required to compromise its integrity by having those under the purview of the board involved in its governance.
Roadblocks. The bill requires employees to go through Human Resources rather than reporting their concerns to the ethics board. Flying in the face of whistle blower protections, this requirement puts the decision of whether or not something is an ethics violation into the hands of a department that is unqualified to make that decision. In addition, Human Resources could subvert any investigation and delay indefinitely an employee’s ability to go to the ethics board. This requirement will doubtless have a chilling effect on employees reporting ethics violations.
Lack of professionalism. The bill downgrades the ethics officer position to that of an “administrator” with no requirement for work experience or legal or ethics training. The legislation calls for a significantly less skilled individual, who will be unqualified to provide employee training, offer informal advice for those with questions, or have the responsibility to report criminal activity to law enforcement. It is considered standard for an ethics officer to have a law degree, but not so for an administrator.
DeKalb Citizens is partnering with multiple groups in DeKalb County, including DeKalb Strong and PRISM (Pride Rings in Stone Mountain), to educate voters throughout the County about the defective nature of the bill.
For more information, visit our website: www.dekalbcitizens.org