MARTA has admitted it erred when its Board of Directors granted ethics waivers to two former employees without public notice this summer.
On June 22, the board voted to waive ethics rules to allow two former employees to take jobs with MARTA contractors within a year of leaving the agency. Those waivers did not appear on the board’s agenda in advance, prompting a citizens group to complain to the state Attorney General’s Office that MARTA had violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act. The act requires government bodies to conduct their business in public, and to provide proper notice of what issues they will discuss at meetings.
MARTA initially defended the June 22 action. It argued the ethics waivers were time-sensitive and not controversial, and it would have been “unfair and potentially harmful to those people to delay the board’s approval until the next month’s meeting.”
But in a follow-up response to the Attorney General Monday, MARTA admitted it should have given the public notice of the actions by placing them on the board’s agenda. As a “curative measure,” the board plans to hold a second vote on the waivers at its Oct. 4 meeting.
The letter from MARTA attorney Paula Nash said it was not the agency’s intent to circumvent open meeting requirements.
“MARTA just wanted to be fair to the two individuals waiting to start a new job,” the letter said. “In the future, MARTA will ensure that such resolutions are placed on the board agenda.”
MARTA has maintained that the board’s decision to settle a lawsuit without public notice at the same meeting did not violate open meetings requirements.
The Attorney General’s Office has not ruled on whether MARTA violated the Open Meetings Act. Last week the citizens group took its open meetings complaint a step further, filing a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court.
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