An inspector general charged with independently investigating Atlanta’s government activities is one of several ethic proposals being announced Monday by state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta.
Fort is among a number of candidates vying to replace Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed next year. A longtime critic of Reed, Fort made the announcement as the city is in the middle of a bribery investigation involving its procurement office.
A city spokesperson said in a statement that officials “look forward to reviewing the legislation once it is final. For Sen. Fort’s information, the city of Atlanta has the strongest ethics laws of any government in the state.”
That includes an ethics board, internal auditor and compliance division within the city’s Law Department, but Fort said the scandal proves current safeguards don’t work despite “well-meaning people who may be over there now.” Under his proposal, the inspector general would have the power to forward findings to federal officials and also oversee enforcement of open records and open meetings laws.
Other measures from Fort include a requirement banning “secret” settlements with city employees, although the city council already reviews any settlement over $500, making it public anyway. Fort also wants to mandate that the city council hold its meetings in the evening after 6 p.m. – something Fort said would make the meetings more accessible for the working public.
In response, the city said that “we are completely open to any substantive suggestion which can promote ethics and prevent wrongdoing in the future.”
All the bills require a change to the city’s charter, which is why Fort is filing them in the state Legislature.