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Police field complaint in DeKalb commissioners’ pay raise vote

On Tuesday, Ed Williams and a group of activists returned to the scene of what they claim is a crime that violated more than 700,000 DeKalb County residents.

It is Williams’ latest attempt to seek justice after county commissioners quietly approved a $24,000 pay raise for themselves last February. That secretive vote, which amounted to a 60-percent pay hike, has dogged the seven commissioners ever since.

Williams and three others on Tuesday exited the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur, where commissioners were meeting, before they marched down the block to the city police headquarters to file a report about the February meeting. Williams said the police report was filed after previous attempts failed to hold commissioners accountable for what he says are open meeting violations.

“When they don’t respond, the only option a citizen has is to go to court,” he said.

In June, Attorney General Christopher Carr said the pay raise vote violated open meeting laws after Williams complained to his office. By then, the 90-day window that would have allowed Carr to contest the vote had passed, so he said any action would have to be taken by DeKalb prosecutors.

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Either civil or misdemeanor criminal charges could be brought against commissioners with a maximum penalty of $1,000, Carr said. Days after Carr’s statements, Williams wrote to DeKalb Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling urging her to act. She never responded.

Her office told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the summer that she was reviewing the case and had not decided how to proceed. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman said Coleman-Stribling is still investigating.

DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader, who serves as presiding officer, was traveling Wednesday and did not immediately respond to calls or an email.

Williams knows some may claim he’s grandstanding, but he said he filed the police report so that Coleman-Stribling and other judicial officers can’t use the lack of a formal complaint as a reason not to investigate.

“I wanted to make sure my bases are covered,” he said.

Decatur police acknowledge the unique nature of Williams’ complaint.

On Tuesday, two officers assigned to take Williams’ statement at headquarters appeared at first as if they weren’t quite sure how to handle the matter. They said they had never received a case like this one. Still, after a few minutes, they dutifully wrote down Williams’ statement. They made copies of Carr’s letter and Williams’ follow up to the solicitor-general.

Afterward, Lt. Jennifer Ross said case #18-02428 will be assigned and investigated like any other citizen complaint.

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