News and Updates from
DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council
June 14, 2020 Volume 1: Issue 15
One of the things resonating with us from Killer Mike’s televised speech and the opinion pieces from other media sources is the continued call for citizen engagement and participation in fixing the various systems supporting inequities and injustice in this country. The 2015 Ethics Act in DeKalb County represented such citizen engagement.
A diverse group of citizens spent a great deal of time studying best practices throughout the country and together established a simple but effective “checks-and-balances” system to ensure our local county government is not “rigged” for the “haves” or the “politically powerful,” but operates fairly for all.
That was the motivation and the vision, and it worked well until a board appointment process used across the state – and not just in DeKalb – was determined to be unconstitutional. Notice that it was not the Act itself, but one part of the Act – the appointment process – that was found to be unconstitutional.
When the DeKalb legislative delegation returns to the Capitol, we on the Board of the DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council hope they will take a little bit of time to make a simple fix to the appointment process to allow the Board of Ethics to reach a quorum. We recognize the need to focus on the state’s budget, and on legislation addressing historic and systemic racial injustice and police brutality, but we do not want this critical ethics fix to be ignored.
We also do not want the Board of Ethics to be cast as an element contributing to a system of structural racism in DeKalb County. No complainant, defendant or member of the Board of Ethics has ever brought up racism as being a factor in any decision made by the Board of Ethics. Accusations such as these are hollow; they do not have a factual basis.
We continue to maintain that while the Ethics Act may benefit from some additional amendments, any other issues about the Board of Ethic’s policies and procedures should be addressed by the Board itself and by the Charter Review Commission. Currently dormant due to the pandemic, the Commission will provide a good opportunity for citizens to engage in healthy dialogue as they review and revise the legislation that prepares our county to provide the most effective, efficient, and fair government for all citizens of DeKalb County.