DeKalb ethics chief will be both teacher and investigator

DeKalb County's incoming ethics officer, Stacey Kalberman, plans to prevent government misbehavior from the start.

Besides handling ethics infractions, she also will teach the county's 6,000-plus employees about ethical rules and conduct.

“One of the very first goals is to start an education program,” Kalberman said in an interview this week. “Education is one of the most important components in making a new change in DeKalb County.”

But Kalberman, the former director of the state ethics commission, will also work as the county's investigator of alleged infractions.

Ethics complaints involving county commissioners and other officials have been pending with the DeKalb Board of Ethics for months. Dozens of elected officials and government employees have also been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing.

The board hasn’t been able to move forward with its cases until the DeKalb Commission confirmed Kalberman as the county’s first chief ethics officer Tuesday.

“All counties struggle with ethics issues as well as conflict of interest issues. I don’t think this is something that’s a DeKalb County problem alone,” Kalberman said. “Considering what has been reported about DeKalb County in the past few years, this is a positive step.”

Kalberman said she hopes that DeKalb officials and employees come to her when they have ethical questions.

“They can seek assistance before they make decisions and before they act,” Kalberman said. “The ethics office is a place that can prevent conflict of interest issues.”

Kalberman, who was unanimously appointed by the DeKalb Board of Ethics last month, will be able to start the job after Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May gives his approval, a step required by state law. May has said he’s inclined to support Kalberman’s nomination.