Fulton development head to resign as executive director, remain chairman

Headshot of Michel “Marty” Turpeau IV with the Development Authority of Fulton County. (Photo provided by Michel “Marty” Turpeau IV)
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Headshot of Michel “Marty” Turpeau IV with the Development Authority of Fulton County. (Photo provided by Michel “Marty” Turpeau IV)

Credit: BORN IMMACULATE

Credit: BORN IMMACULATE

Ahead of what is expected to be a public reckoning by county commissioners, the chairman of the embattled Development Authority of Fulton County (DAFC) announced Monday he will end his dual role as interim executive director, effective Aug. 31.

Michel “Marty” Turpeau IV wrote the agency will start an “accelerated timeline to select an interim executive director” this week, adding that he expects to have a full board vote based on the top three candidates before he steps down.

“It is now apparent that serving as both chairman and interim executive director has become both a political and a public distraction from moving the DAFC forward,” Turpeau said.

ExploreAJC finds more questionable per diem payments to Fulton authority members

After he became chairman in November, the board tried and failed to find a new executive director. Turpeau was named interim executive director in May, formalizing a role he had essentially performed since the beginning of 2021.

News that Turpeau will drop half of his duties comes ahead of Wednesday’s Fulton County Commission meeting, where Turpeau is expected to answer questions from the elected Fulton commissioners. There are multiple proposals on the agenda to reform DAFC, and at least one commissioner is on record calling for the board to separate the roles of board chair and executive director.

“This being an executive director and being chairman of the board is an unacceptable conflict,” Fulton Commissioner Lee Morris said previously.

All this comes after reporting from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed it was apparently standard for some board members to collect multiple per diem payments the same day. Since 2011, DAFC board members have collected $1.1 million in per diems, the AJC found, and at least one board member, former chairman Bob Shaw, had also collected per diem and a salary for more than six years.

ExploreOPINION: Fulton development board’s twisted tactics a stomach turner

State law requires the county commission to set per diem for certain development authorities but Fulton officials can find no record they ever did, raising questions about the legality of the per diem payments.

Over the last eight months, the authority has revised per diem policies to ban multiple per diem payments and make salaried board members ineligible for them.

Nonetheless, some state lawmakers now want to abolish the agency, or significantly increase regulation of the authority.

ExploreScandal-plagued Fulton agency should be abolished or reined in, lawmakers say

Turpeau wrote that it was never his intention to serve as both chairman and interim executive director indefinitely.

“I look forward to being able to concentrate solely on serving as the chairman of our board and working with our stakeholders to ensure economic opportunities are available to all of the communities we serve in Fulton County,” Turpeau wrote.

Among the proposals expected for consideration this week by the Board of Commissioners is to set a $105 per diem rate, which only applies to official meetings.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

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Fulton County Commission chairman expects state to look at Development Authority's per diem fees

Credit: WSBTV Videos

ExploreOur reporting about the Development Authority of Fulton County


Our reporting

The AJC’s previous reporting revealed a culture of loose financial oversight at the Development Authority of Fulton County. Board members gave themselves per diems that elected county commissioners now believe may not have been legal.

Using public tax filings and documents received through the state’s Open Records Act, the AJC has shown that one member, Bob Shaw, earned hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the authority had previously disclosed for a staff position that few members knew about. The AJC’s reporting led Shaw to step down, pledges of transparency by the authority and scrutiny from some state and local lawmakers.