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.
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.
Before sending the email below, please review these instructions first:
1. Always add your name and street address; legislators want to know you really are in their district.
2. If you decide to email all the DeKalb legislators and not just your own, it’s important to email each one separately; we have been advised that emails written to several legislators don’t get the same attention as one sent separately.
3. If you email more than your legislator, it’s important to say who your legislator is and why you are writing to someone who isn’t yours. (Ex: “We need all of the legislators to work together as a team to get this work done.”)
Model Email message to legislators and commissioners:
While DeKalb voters successfully defeated the Ethics Referendum in November, it will take a concerted effort on the part of citizens and elected officials to get the Ethics Board back up and running as soon as possible. I support the expectations expressed by the DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council:
1. Legislators should focus on the simple fix: just fix the board appointment process to satisfy stated court requirements. Going beyond this will likely delay success in this effort.
2. Fix the appointment process NOW so the new board can be seated.
3. Legislators should engage in a transparent process to produce the proper legislation.
4. If a task force is formed to produce another bill dealing with reforming the Ethics Act further, a representative from the DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council should serve on the task force.
2021 DCAC Newsletters
2020 DCAC Newsletters
November 22, 2020 Newsletter
November 15, 2020 Newsletter
October 25, 2020 Newsletter
October 10, 2020 Newsletter
September 20, 2020 Newsletter
September 12, 2020 Newsletter
July 26, 2020 Newsletter
July 2, 2020 Newsletter
June 14, 2020 Newsletter
May 8, 2020 Newsletter
March 30, 2020 Newsletter
March 9, 2020 Newsletter
March 3, 2020 Newsletter
February 24, 2020 Newsletter
February 4, 2020 Newsletter
January 23, 2020 Newsletter
January 12, 2020 Newsletter