News and Updates from
DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council
February 24, 2020 Volume 1: Issue 10
If we think of ethics as requiring trust between elected officials, other staff members, and the public, those of us living in DeKalb have a ways to go in establishing an ethical public space, as illustrated by the following report:
2020 Legislative Report Week 3
After a break in the legislative session, the General Assembly resumed Tuesday, and it’s been a wild and wooly week, beginning with Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting and continuing through Wednesday’s House Delegation meeting.
House Delegation Town Hall Meeting (Feb. 18th)
When we asked for a status report on the House/Senate Ethics Task Force Special Committee, we were told that the delay had occurred while the Delegation Chair was waiting for Legislative Counsel to make a response to an interpretation of the Delegation’s rules and that a discussion regarding this committee would happen at the Delegation meeting the next day.
A special highlight of the meeting occurred at the end when Representative Doreen Carter (HD 92 representing 18,373 DeKalb registered voters and 18,021 Rockdale voters) yelled out at the end of the meeting that voters in 2015 did not know the details of the bill that they were voting on when they approved the Ethics Act. That leads us to wonder where she was in 2015 when the Blueprint group held numerous citizen education meetings prior to the vote so voters would
know what they were voting on.
House Delegation Meeting (Feb. 19th)
After a raucous and lively discussion about rules, the committee process, and who did or didn’t support ethics, a decision was made that Rep. Viola Davis would chair a House Ethics Committee that would include Reps. Nguyen, Shannon and Wilson. We heard Rep. Davis say she has outlined a process for action. We are hopeful that something will come out of this committee. And, on a positive note for Rep. Carter, she did say there’s still time for meaningful legislation to be passed. There are five more Delegation meetings and March 12th
is crossover day, the last day that a bill can be passed in one chamber and sent to the next chamber. As we said immediately after the November election:
“Time is of the essence.”
We intend to continue to be present at every House Delegation meeting and any future committee meetings. We will report what we learn. In the meantime, here are our suggestions for features of the 2015 Ethics Act that must remain unaltered:
If you support these points, please convey them to your representative and to Rep. Viola Davis as Chair of the House Ethics Committee.
- The ethics office provides independent checks & balances; its operation should be under the sole authority of the Board of Ethics.
- No other department of county government, such as Human Resources, or any county official should be able to exercise control or influence ethics enforcement.
- Appointments to the Board of Ethics should not be subject to oversight by the officials and employees who are to be overseen by the Ethics Officer and the Board of Ethics.
- No county official or employee should have the power of review and approval of procedures for ethics enforcement.
- An independent ethics officer with a legal background and specific expertise in ethics directs the ethics office; an independent board oversees the ethics officer’s work.
DeKalb House Legislative Delegation
[By District Number]
Mike Wilensky—District 79
Matthew Wilson—District 80
Scott Holcomb—District 81
Mary Margaret Oliver—District 82
Becky Evans—District 83
Renitta Shannon—District 84
Karla Drenner—District 85
Michele Henson—District 86
Viola Davis—District 87
Billy Mitchell—District 88
Bee Nguyen—District 89
Pam Stephenson—District 90
Vernon Jones—District 91
Doreen Carter—District 92
Dar’shun Kendrick—District 93
Karen Bennett—District 94