DeKalb oversight board in flux


DeKalb oversight board in flux

The chairman of a citizen panel that will help select an independent auditor to watch over DeKalb County's government has decided not to resign, one day after telling commissioners he was stepping down.

Harold Smith Jr., the chairman of the newly created DeKalb Audit Oversight Committee, had told county commissioners Wednesday he planned to resign, but he changed course Thursday. Smith said he would stay on the committee, but not as its chairman.

Smith’s actions came after state Sen. Gloria Butler rescinded her appointment of Harmel Codi to the committee, a move Codi described as political interference with a board that’s supposed to be autonomous.

The Audit Oversight Committee is off to a tumultuous start as it’s preparing to start the hiring process for an independent watchdog over DeKalb’s finances and operations. The Georgia Legislature created the oversight board last year through House Bill 599.

“While excited about the direction and potential of this much needed committee, I do not feel that I will be able to continue in my capacity and contribute to the committee’s continued strategic planning and decision making under the current uncertain circumstances,” Smith wrote in his Wednesday resignation email to the DeKalb Commission.

Smith wrote in a follow-up email to commissioners Thursday that he was asked to remain on the committee, and he agreed. Smith didn’t return phone messages seeking comment.

Smith, a retired auditor for the Georgia Department of Labor and Lucent Technologies, was appointed to a four-year term by the DeKalb Commission on Oct. 27.

Earlier this week, Butler said she removed Codi because she believed Codi was pursuing a personal agenda through the committee. Codi, a former DeKalb financial officer, is an outspoken critic of the county.

Codi said her removal threatened the committee’s integrity if its members can be removed by politicians who don't like what they say. Smith said Monday that Codi was removed before she took office Jan. 1 and that committee members couldn’t be dismissed after that date.

Butler replaced Codi with Natasha Smith, a certified public accountant who Butler said is more qualified.

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