The new Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust would expand transparency between the city council and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and assess the city’s current ethical and transparency guidelines.” B
Photo: ob Andres
Photo: ob Andres

Atlanta City Council approves new task force on ethics, transparency 

The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved Monday a 12-person task force to evaluate the city’s ethics and transparency.

The new Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust is intended to expand transparency between the city council and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and assess the city’s ethical and transparency guidelines.

It comes nearly four years after a federal bribery investigation was opened into City Hall activities under former Mayor Kasim Reed.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of this issue

We've been working with the city to come up with new transparency laws over open records.

Members of the task force will meet four times a year and will issue recommendations to Bottoms and the City Council on transparency issues. 

Five members of the task force will be appointed by Bottoms: a former prosecutor, a member of academia who specializes in government or corporate transparency, a former local government attorney, an Atlanta resident, and a former judge. The City Council will also appoint five members from the same sectors.

Two additional members will be appointed by Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore from the same categories. 

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“Strengthening public trust requires a shared responsibility from not only the executive and legislative arms of government, but the people of Atlanta as well,” Bottoms said in statement. “That is why I wanted to ensure that the (task force) held public meetings (and) included opportunity for public comment. Restoring and building full faith and confidence in city government will require buy-in from the very residents we were all elected to represent.”

The task force will conduct its first meeting within two weeks of the appointments and submit its recommendations within four months of its first meeting. The task force will automatically disband 30 days after presenting its recommendations. 

A date for the first meeting has not been announced. 

The task force is the latest step toward eradicating the city’s issues concerning open-records laws. In September, the city council passed a transparency ordinance, which changed how the city responds to requests made under the Georgia Open Records Act. The Open Records Act gives the public the right to access government documents and records. 

Bottoms also placed the city’s checkbook on the internet for all to see in September, with the implementation of Open Checkbook.

This year, Atlanta City Council approved new restrictions on the use of city-issued credit cards and elected officials giving bonuses to their employees after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published several stories last year about Reed and members of his administration’s expensive charge card purchases. 

An AJC investigation also revealed Reed, his director of human resources and council members handed out bonuses in 2017 that cost taxpayers more than $800,000. Internal investigations into the bonuses found they violated city ordinances and the state constitution, which prohibits governments from using tax dollars for gifts.

— Staff writer Dan Klepal contributed to this report 

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