by Emily Lewy
The last line in this article is the most telling. Laws not enforced, standards not upheld and apathy of the people results in anarchy. Access to the people’s bank account is too much for those elected by apathetic voters these days. They rob us blind and demand more. Who knew there is no one at the state level willing to enforce the law? Who knew that responsibilities of the Attorney General’s office had been reduced to investigating open records complaints? Since they don’t even do that very well, why are we still paying them? When we do not carefully examine the credentials and the record of people we elect, we will be controlled by criminals and robbed.
Whither DeKalb? …Posted By Maggie Lee …Creative Loafing Atlanta …Friday, October 2, 2015
Ah DeKalb County. It’s beset by appalling corruption, a stunning absence of leadership, and corrosive misconduct, says a new report that cost $800,000. It’s not clear what, if anything, will result from the investigation’s findings.
The corruption allegations come from a report by former Attorney General Michael Bowers and investigator Richard Hyde. The county hired them to root out corruption. But, says the preface of their 40-page report, the findings are a mere “overview” of the months of work they were able to do despite uncooperative officials.
In the report, Bowers and Hyde say they reviewed more than 50,000 purchases by county commissioners and staff and found “thousands” of questionable charges. The report lists charges by elected officials and staff for catering, flowers, hotel stays, grocery stores, restaurants, t-shirts, caterers, consultants, dance lessons, at least one singer and one cigar store. The report also lists thousands of dollars given to nonprofits, which Bowers and Hyde contend are illegal giveaways of government property. It also alleges sloppy management, such as departments regularly spending beyond their budgets, paying favored vendors faster, and failing to keep thorough records.
The report says Interim CEO Lee May should resign immediately.
May called the report “laughable” and said he would ask for some of the county’s money back from Bowers and Hyde. Bowers and Hyde also said Georgia Attorney General Same Olens and the GBI should review their work. Olens’ office dropped that hot potato right away via written statement: “The Attorney General received and read a copy of the DeKalb County investigative report. The matters discussed in the report do not involve matters which fall within the jurisdiction of the Attorney General’s authority.”
(The AG’s office investigates open records act complaints, and the report alleges such violations, but a department spokesman declined to elaborate on the written statement.)
Gov. Nathan Deal asked the GBI to review the report and get back to him. GBI Public Affairs Director Scott Dutton says a review is different from an investigation. The agency will look at the document and report back to the governor. Dutton said it’s not clear yet how long that will take.
It’s not clear what Deal will do with the report either. “The governor has instructed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to review the DeKalb report as it has with other similar reports. Pending their review, GBI will report back to the governor if necessary,” Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber wrote in response to an e-mail inquiry.
Even if the specific allegations are new, the concepts aren’t. Former DeKalb CEO, Burell Ellis, was convicted of attempted extortion. Former Commissioner Elaine Boyer got sent to Club Fed for embezzlement.
“To be honest with you, the Bowers report, there’s no surprises there,” said state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody.
He supported new laws passed this year that strengthen DeKalb County’s Board of Ethics and enact tougher penalties for misuse of county spending cards.
“People elect these folks. If they continue to elect them after all this, then shame on them,” said Millar