Dear Decaturish – Pending DeKalb ethics cases need to be resolved
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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. 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 a 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. 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.
– Mary Hinkel, Chair of DeKalb Citizens
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