Press Release_Five Groups Endorse Ethics Referendum
Vote Yes _November 2020

According to the legislation, the appointments must be made by December 31, 2020. If the referendum passes in November, which we expect it will, appointing authorities must act at a particularly hectic time of year to appoint the new board members. For that reason, and to ensure quality appointments are made, we suggest they start now, so that they are ready to go on November 4 with a call for applications and meetings already scheduled on the books!

 

DeKalb Ethics Board Appointment Process Expectations and Recommendations

As you have probably heard by now, revisions to the county’s Ethics Act were passed by the General Assembly and voters will have a chance to approve or disapprove of them in November.

Considering last year’s problematic revisions and those suggested by some legislators this year before the General Assembly’s recess due to the pandemic, we are relieved by the legislation that was passed. The many revisions which threatened the independence of the Board of Ethics and would have dramatically weakened its authority, policies and procedures were not included in the final bill.

In addition to actively working to encourage voters to pass the Ethics Act revision bill in November, we will be monitoring how the House and Senate delegations fulfill their appointment responsibilities. It is important that they make a public call for nominations and use a vetting process resulting in a board of diverse, qualified, and independent citizens from throughout the county.

DeKalb-Ethics Board Issue Highlights Importance of Voter Education

For Immediate Release

Pending Ethics Cases Need To Be Resolved

[DeKalb County, GA]—While the DeKalb County Legislative Delegation has yet to provide a legislative remedy to seating the Board of Ethics, citizens who have filed ethics cases and those who stand accused remain in limbo.

“As CEO Michael Thurmond stated after the November election, the current situation that leaves us without a seated Board of Ethics is untenable,” states DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Chair Mary Hinkel. “Without a full board to hear the cases, both sides are in difficult positions. Those who stand accused cannot receive vindication; those who have lodged complaints are potential targets of retaliation.”

Through a Freedom of Information Act Request, DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council (DeKalb Citizens) recently received information on pending ethics cases in the county. While the ethics office is able to review the submittals and contact the parties involved for additional facts, these cases can only be acted on by the Ethics Board.

Pending cases include violations of the county’s commitment to an harassment free workplace, allegations that the county is allowing unlicensed individuals to do work that is mandated to be done by licensed professionals, and complaints that the county has violated open meetings laws.

“We believe these are serious allegations that deserve to be heard,” states Hinkel. “We urge our legislators to think of those employees and citizens who risked their careers and livelihoods to file these complaints. What will happen to them if action is not taken quickly to seat an ethics board?”

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that all members of the ethics board must be appointed by elected officials. DeKalb Citizens believes it is in the best interest of the county’s residents and businesses if those appointments are made by elected officials not under the purview of the ethics board.

DeKalb Citizens is calling on the delegation to move with all deliberate speed to pass a bill that will seat the ethics board, allowing the board to promptly resolve these and other pending cases.

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For more information, visit dekalbcitizens.org/about-us.

The DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council (DeKalb Citizens) is registered as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Georgia and has filed an application for recognition of exemption under IRS Section 501(c)4. DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council is a group of community members from throughout DeKalb County, Georgia, that formed a ballot committee to defeat the revised ethics act, which was on the ballot for the November 5, 2019 general election. DeKalb Citizens’ mission is to educate the citizens of DeKalb County about county governance issues and to advocate for informed citizen engagement. The organization’s members research topics, including filing open records requests and seeking out best practices from other jurisdictions. The goal is for DeKalb County to model excellence in citizen engagement and county responsiveness to citizen concerns.

www.dekalbcitizens.org

Media Contact:

Mary Hinkel                                    Martha Pacini
maryhinkel@comcast.net                      marthapacini@gmail.com
(404) 312-8646                                           (404) 285-7042