A new staffer faces disciplinary action after a tweet from the Atlanta City Council’s verified account created a political firestorm early Wednesday.
The erroneous tweet, which indicated Mayor Kasim Reed vetoed a measure intended to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, was pushed out to thousands of the council’s followers just after 6 a.m. — nearly 12 hours after he signed the legislation.
The city recalled the tweet about 47 minutes later, but by then, nearly every major outlet in Atlanta had published the news.
And while city officials could not be reached for comment, Reed quickly responded online.
In a string of tweets, he blasted journalists and blamed the mix-up on City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who hopes to succeed Reed as mayor.
He later went on The Ryan Cameron Morning Show with Wanda Smith on radio station V-103.
“I’ve been interviewed by journalism students at Grady High School that know to call the source,” Reed said.
Council spokesman Dexter Chambers called into the program to set the record straight. The error, he said, was made when the unidentified staffer read an email from the mayor’s office. The staffer, however, did not read which bill was vetoed by the mayor, according to Chambers.
“Ryan, we have policies and procedures in place that were not followed,” he said. “She assumed it was the marijuana legislation. That was not the case.”
The mayor actually vetoed the sale of a portion of land to Hapeville, according to the council.
“President Mitchell did not have anything to do with this,” said Chambers, who did not specify how the new staffer would be discplined.
Reed didn’t buy the explanation and said he questioned if Chambers should remain in his post as the head of communications.
“This was intentional,” he said. “This was a political stunt. Y’all were trying to score political points. Go tell your folks you fell on the sword.”
Reed, who makes regular appearances on Cameron’s show, said he planned to tout the signing of the legislation and a related ceremony on Wednesday’s program — before the social media firestorm.
He said he signed the measure, which will reduce the penalty for possessing an ounce or less of pot in the city from $1,000 to $75 and eliminate jail time under those circumstances, at 6:24 p.m. Tuesday.
After the show, he tweeted a picture of that moment.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.