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Avondale Estates refutes ethics complaint regarding Stratford Green annexation

Annexation, new cities Avondale Estates

Avondale Estates refutes ethics complaint regarding Stratford Green annexation

Photo obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.
Photo obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.

Photo obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.

The city of Avondale Estates has issued a lengthy rebuttal to an ethics complaint filed against city commissioners, calling parts of it factually inaccurate.

Attorney Joe Mandarino filed the complaint on March 4, challenging the city’s recent annexation of city’s recent annexation of 154 town homes in the Stratford Green neighborhood off of Covington Road.

The complaint said the City Commission erred by approving the annexation because there was a vacancy at the time. Former mayor Ed Rieker resigned on Oct. 2, leaving the Board of Mayor and Commissioners with four members. Terry Giager became interim mayor. The special election to replace Rieker is March 17. Five candidates are seeking the job.

Mandarino is asking for that election to be delayed because, his complaint contends, Stratford Green residents shouldn’t be allowed to vote because their annexation wasn’t valid under the city’s charter. His complaint also contends that the meeting for the annexation wasn’t properly advertised under state law.

The city published its response shortly before 5 pm on March 9 following an erroneous report that the Ethics Board would be meeting this week. No meeting has been announced. City Manager Clai Brown said under the city’s ethics code, the first date a probable cause hearing could be held is March 20. The complaint was filed against all of the current City Commissioners, and the city’s ethics ordinance says the accused, “shall have the right to written notice of the allegations at least ten (10) business days before a hearing”

Brown’s email also gives opinions from the city attorney regarding the complaint. Here is the full email from the city manager …

On March 4, 2015, the City received an ethics complaint against all four members of the Board of Mayor and Commissioners (BOMC). The complaint raises a number of legal questions, so I asked the City Attorney to evaluate the issues raised by the complaint. I have decided to share certain aspects of the City Attorney’s legal opinion with the residents of Avondale Estates. The following lists the key contentions of the ethics complaint and City Attorney Bob Wilson’s findings:

Allegation: The BOMC lost all power and authority to act when former Mayor Rieker resigned.

City Attorney’s Response: The BOMC can continue to do business in the absence of former Mayor Rieker. As long as three of the five elected officials are at a meeting, a quorum is present and business may be transacted by the BOMC.

Allegation: The public hearing to consider annexation of Stratford Green was not advertised.

City Attorney’s response: This allegation is factually false. The public hearing was advertised twice in the DeKalb Champion, four times by the City’s e-newsletter and by a sign posted at Stratford Green. The hearing was also publicized by the AJC, on the City website and at City Hall.

The complaint asks the Ethics Board to “revoke” the annexation of Stratford Green, to prevent Stratford Green residents from voting in the special election and to delay the special election.

City Attorney’s response: The City of Avondale Estates Ethics Board has absolutely no authority to cancel the Stratford Green annexation, to prevent anyone from voting in the Mayoral Special Election on March 17, 2015, or to delay the election.

The Ethics Board will hold a probable cause hearing to assess the ethics complaint as called for by the City’s Code of Ethics. The date, time and place of said hearing will be announced to the public and the public may attend.