Inside City Hall: Atlanta wants you to call out government corruption

A weekly roundup of the most important things you need to know about Atlanta City Hall.
The Office of the Inspector General at Atlanta City Hall is spearheading a public awareness campaign to let people know they have resources available to root out misdeeds in city government. (Photo Credit: JacobsEye Marketing Agency)

Credit: JacobsEye Marketing Agency

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The Office of the Inspector General at Atlanta City Hall is spearheading a public awareness campaign to let people know they have resources available to root out misdeeds in city government. (Photo Credit: JacobsEye Marketing Agency)

Credit: JacobsEye Marketing Agency

Credit: JacobsEye Marketing Agency

Atlanta Inspector General Shannon K. Manigault has been working with the JacobsEye Marketing Agency to promote awareness of her department and to encourage the public to report fraud, waste, abuse or corruption seen among city officials, employees, or vendors.

The Office of the Inspector General exists to ensure corruption is being detected and prevented at City Hall. These allegations can be reported to the OIG at 404-546-2271, inspectorgeneral@atlantaga.gov, or by visiting ATLOIG.org/reportcorruption. Reports can be submitted anonymously.

Manigault’s office reported last summer that former mayor Kasim Reed owes Atlanta $83,000 because his administration reportedly misled the public about the use of tax dollars when he said his personal funds were used to repay Atlanta or make charitable donations. Reed denied the allegations, and Mayor Andre Dickens has not made plans to pursue Manigault’s advice.

Manigault says her office has several active investigations right now.

“We have a couple of projects in the pipeline that will be the subject of public reports and those will likely be in the next several weeks,” Manigault said. “Please stay tuned for that.”

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City Council is on summer break recess through Aug. 7. Until then, we’re going to review some of last week’s council resolutions, which are nonbinding legislative items meant to express intent or support of various projects and enterprises, or to establish legislative policy of a general nature.

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District 12 city councilman Antonio Lewis speaks during a press conference at City Hall addressing the violent demonstrations at the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center site known as ‘Cop City’ on Friday, March 10, 2023. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

City Council’s Public Safety committee recently passed a resolution to urge the Georgia General Assembly to amend its laws to limit the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.

Councilman Antonio Lewis introduced this item in August 2022, but it existed in legislative limbo until last Monday. Lewis’s proposal comes amid rapper Young Thug’s racketeering case in Fulton County, where prosecutors want to use Thug’s rap lyrics in part to convict the rapper, whose name is Jeffery Williams.

Rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, waits for the jury selection portion of the trial to continue in a Fulton County courtroom on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Steve Schaefer/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

In a statement, Lewis said his resolution would help rectify an issue that disproportionately affects minorities. He also said the government should protect the freedom of artistic expression while ensuring evidence used in criminal trials is “relevant, reliable, and does not perpetuate bias.”

Lewis’s resolution was later referred to the council’s Finance Executive committee. During the committee’s meeting, the council tabled the proposal after Councilman and FEC Chair Alex Wan said they needed time to consult with the city’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs before they can advance the resolution to the full council.

“It came out, kind of quickly and unexpectedly, out of that previous committee,” Wan said.

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A freight train crossing in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. Freight rail companies and unions representing tens of thousands of workers reached a tentative agreement to avoid what would have been an economically damaging strike, after all-night talks brokered by Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh, President Biden said early Thursday morning. (Dustin Chambers/The New York Times)

The City Council’s Transportation Committee last week voted in favor of legislation to advocate for the implementation of time restrictions on freight trains blocking road crossings. The legislation requests the Georgia General Assembly and Congress to pass laws mandating the maximum length of time freight trains are allowed to block a grade crossing, which is the point where a railway track intersects with the road.

City Councilmember Keisha Sean Waites said in a statement that the train blockings are deeply impacting residents, particularly in the Hunter Hills community.

Council member Keisha Sean Waites during discussion as the Atlanta City Council held their first in person meeting since they were suspended at start of the pandemic In Atlanta on Monday, March 21, 2022.   (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

“When trains are stalled on our roads, we see disruptions and delays in traffic and increased frustration for drivers and pedestrians,” Waites’s statement said. “It can limit visibility, create confusion, and increase safety concerns, including causing more traffic accidents.”

The item was moved forward by the Transportation Committee after being amended to add penalties, including $1,000 for the first offense, $3,000 for the second offense, and $5,000 for the third offense. The penalties for each violation would be a result of blocking road crossings for periods exceeding 15 minutes. It will be considered by the full Council during the next regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 7.

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Captured in front of the emblematic Atlanta City Hall, Atlanta Journal-Constitution's City Hall reporters Wilborn P. Nobles III (L) and Riley Bunch proudly showcase their commitment to bringing the latest and most accurate news to their readers.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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