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Decatur adds ‘ethics’ section to website


Decatur adds ‘ethics’ section to website

Decatur City Hall.
Decatur City Hall.

Decatur City Hall.

The city of Decatur has updated its website, Decaturga.com, to include information about the city’s ethics ordinance and its Ethics Committee.

The information can now be found by visiting: http://www.decaturga.com/city-government/resident-boards-commissions/ethics-committee

The changes to the city’s website were made at the suggestion of Decaturish.com. In an recent story, we noted that while the Ethics Committee hasn’t held a meeting since 2001, the city has not provided the public with easy access to information about its ethics ordinance or provided information about how to file a complaint.

According to the city:

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All complaints against City Commissioners shall be filed in writing with the ethics committee. Complaints can be sent via the United States Postal Service to:

Ethics Committee
City of Decatur
PO Box 220
Decatur, GA 30031

ATTN: City Manager

Complaints can be delivered in person during regular business hours to:

Ethics Committee
City of Decatur
509 North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA 30030
ATTN: City Manager

Complaints can be sent via email to ethics.committee@decaturga.com

The lack of easily-accessible information about the city’s ethics policies and procedures was revealed during an investigation by Decaturish.com that prompted the city to revisit its practices surrounding city-issued credit cards. That investigation also uncovered an apparent violation of the city’s ethics ordinance by Commissioner Scott Drake, who used his city-issued card at a gas station where he has an ownership interest.

Drake defended his purchases saying, “I personally feel I followed the rules and guidelines for using the city credit card for the purchase of gas for a city-related trip. You have three gas stations in Decatur. I picked the one that actually supports the community through donations to the Decatur Education Foundation, Decatur Booster Club, Decatur Business Association, and just about any school or charity group that wants silent auction gift cards. Regardless of my affiliation with the Decatur Pure Station, I think I picked the right one to buy gas from.”

No complaints have been filed against Drake or any commissioner since the Ethics Committee was first appointed in 2001, so the committee has never met. Mayor Patti Garrett has asked that the Committee hold a meeting for the purposes of having committee members meet each other.

The City Commission recently appointed two new members to the Ethics Committee: Charlie Bailey, a local attorney, and Mark Douglas, a professor of Christian ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary. The other member is former mayor Elizabeth Wilson.

They replaced Davison Philips, who passed away, and former Mayor Walt Drake, who is the father of City Commissioner Drake.

Garrett recently told Decaturish, “There could be a potential conflict of interest with having Walt Drake serve.”


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