Inside City Hall: The mayor’s message amid new fallout from federal bribery trial

A weekly roundup of what’s going on at Atlanta City Hall
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaks at the podium on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at a news conference at Atlanta's public safety headquarters. (John Spink /


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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaks at the podium on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at a news conference at Atlanta's public safety headquarters. (John Spink /


We now know more about what city officials are doing in the fallout from the Mitzi Bickers federal bribery trial that ensnared two current city employees, whose names surfaced in testimony as having accepted bribes or conspired with the scheme.

In a letter sent to city employees Friday and obtained by your City Hall insiders, Mayor Andre Dickens said he is “reviewing all aspects of the organization — including our structure, business processes and safeguards.”

He said “bad actors” will be brought to justice, adding that the investigations are focused on “potentially unethical and criminal activities associated with members of a twice removed previous administration.”

That’s a reference to Cotena Alexander and Rita Braswell, whose names came up over the past few weeks in the federal bribery trial of Mitzi Bickers, the former political operative who was found guilty on nine counts Thursday.

Prosecutors alleged Bickers bribed Alexander to secure 2014 storm relief work for contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. And Mitchell testified Bickers became agitated because another city employee was not sharing money with “our people,” which allegedly included Braswell. All of that allegedly transpired during Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration.

Dickens correctly pointed out that “recent headlines are outliers to the vast majority of city employees who wake up each and every day to serve the people of Atlanta.”

We know few specifics about what the internal investigations will entail — and why the city was unaware of the allegations until they came out in court. Mayor’s office officials previously said the feds didn’t share the names of any city employees suspected of wrongdoing.

That the Dickens administration is now having to devote time to these issues and help restore faith in the city government, though, further demonstrates the scale and impact of the corruption scandal that has loomed over City Hall since the Reed administration.

Our colleague J. Scott Trubey had this takeaway from the trial: “The revelations raised questions about how much the city has done to root out corruption, if contracting practices are still vulnerable and whether other current employees’ names could surface.”


Quote of the week:

“To those businesses that violate protocol time and time again, time's up."

- Mayor Andre Dickens, to Fox 5

That warning was in reference to nightclubs and other nuisance properties that have a history of complaints and public safety violations.

Community members are hoping the city accelerates its legal crackdown of establishments like Encore Hookah Bar & Bistro, which has seen a spate of shootings over the past two years, at least three of which were fatal. Our colleague Shaddi Abusaid has a breakdown of the case filed by the city against the downtown lounge asking a judge to declare the property a “public nuisance.”

Since February 2020, Atlanta police have responded to at least 171 calls for service at Encore, the complaint alleges, detailing an incident in which several stray bullets entered the dolphin enclosure at the Georgia Aquarium across the street during a brawl last September.


Out and about: There’s a new trail at Buckhead’s Chastain Park for walkers, joggers and cyclists to enjoy. The mayor was on hand Wednesday to help cut the ribbon for the PATH Foundation’s final trail segment along Chastain Park Avenue, completing the trail network around the city’s second-largest park.

Officials first set out to build the trails at Chastain almost 30 years ago.


The state ethics commission took up a number of cases related to current and former city officials during a meeting last Monday, including Councilwoman Keisha Waites, former councilman Antonio Brown and former council president Felicia Moore. We have a recap of the meeting here.


Invest Atlanta and local energy-consulting business Ygrene helped the owners of Pullman Yards secure $3.8 million in retroactive financing for a new roof and insulation for one of the buildings on the historic property. This financing allowed the owners to recoup their costs for reinvestment in future upgrades, including energy-efficient plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electrical systems, LED lighting, and windows and doors.


Check out this graphic showing the new development in Midtown in the last 20 years, presented during the Midtown Alliance’s annual meeting last week:


Council corner:

- At least week’s council meeting, officials urged Atlanta police to enforce the law that bars cars and trucks from blocking bicycle lanes. It also passed a non-binding resolution in support of local unionizing Starbucks workers, and another that urges businesses and investors in Atlanta to divest from Russia in solidarity with Ukraine.

- David Pendered at Saporta Report has a piece about the council’s vote to “provide tax breaks to build or preserve workforce housing anywhere in the city, specifically in high-demand areas, rather than only in blighted neighborhoods.”

- This week is committee week, meaning councilmembers will discuss legislation that was introduced last week, before going on a two-week recess. The next full council meeting is scheduled for April 18.