Norwood lacks ‘competence, integrity,' Franklin says

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has offered her strongest criticism yet of the woman who is in the lead to succeed her in January.

Franklin wrote on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Political Insider blog Sunday that mayoral candidate Mary Norwood has "has not demonstrated vision, competence or integrity in her public life."

Norwood, a two-term councilwoman, had no comment Monday, her campaign spokeswoman said.

Norwood has been the most vocal critic of how City Hall has operated, noting at debates that the city last month agreed to pay the Internal Revenue Service $1.6 million for making late payments last year to one of its pension plans. She also uses the phrase "Enron-type accounting" to describe city bookkeeping.

Much of Norwood's support has come from people dissatisfied with Franklin and Police Chief Richard Pennington.

The mayor has continually declined -- and did so again on Monday -- to say who she supports among which of the eight candidates running to replace her  she supports in the Nov. 3 election.

Franklin said she wrote the items in response to comments on the AJC blog and other sites that she's not supporting Norwood because the councilwoman is white.

The mayor said she posted to the blog using two e-mail accounts on Sunday and Monday, signing each post "Shirley" (she often identifies herself just by her first name when calling or e-mailing). Among her more stinging entries:

"Norwood has not demonstrated vision, competence or integrity in her public life as an elected official. Rather she has spent her time building a political network to run for mayor. It looks like she’ll be successful."

"If your choice is Norwood, find a decent reason. Her record is lackluster. She has not demonstrated leadership as a member of Council for 7 years and now says she suffers from memory loss. She can’t remember who she’s voted for in recent presidential elections. At least she didn’t lie or did she?"

"Norwood would be a BIG change for sure… No record, rhetoric only. Norwood voted to weaken the city’s ethics laws, to keep police on furlough, to increase pension payments to employees. She used the public’s money to make friends for her campaign. Norwood is a throw back to pay to play… I thought that game was dead."

-- Political Insider columnist Jim Galloway contributed to this report.