DeKalb County Email Secrets
By Viola Davis, November 1, 2015
Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter submitted an Open Records Request to DeKalb County, October 2014, for several email accounts from the Purchasing and Contracting Department, particularly the emails from the prior director, Kelvin Walton.
We were eventually forced to file a complaint with the state Attorney General (twice) before the Open Records Request was answered. DeKalb County handed over seven discs containing over 20,000 emails.
Several emails will reveal the public was intentionally misled. We have found emails described as “smoking guns” that will show elected officials were informed of policies, procedures, deficiencies, corrective actions on the issues of the purchasing cards (p-cards).
We have emails that reveal the destruction of government documents, auditors being forced to leave premises, and claims of bid-rigging, etc.
Investigators with Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter obtained emails through an Open Records Request that revealed information on serious issues involving the following:
1. Repair of Lee May’s Home
2. Destruction of government documents and bid-rigging
3. District Attorney purchasing card (p-card) audit and deficiencies dated 2010
4. District Attorney’s assistant, Clarissa Brown, and the forfeiture account
5. DeKalb County Sheriff’s office made auditors leave the premises dated 12/30/2011
6. Liens against DeKalb County and claims of violation of False Claims Act
7. Browns Mill Aquatic Center company’s contract and violations
We will present the emails in seven attachments for the public to review for themselves.
Enclosures: Attachments 1-7
We have emails that reveal the destruction of government documents, auditors being forced to leave premises, and claims of bid-rigging, etc. We have media links that relate to the DeKalb County emails listed below.
1. Repair of Lee May’s Home
a. ICEO Lee May’s Home Repair made public 1/8/2015 – http://unhappytaxpayerandvoter.com/iceo-lee-mays-home-repair-made-public-january-8-2015/
b. Channel 2 Investigation reveals possible kickback to DeKalb officials – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/ch-2-investigation-reveals-possible-kickback-dekal/nk3Rn/
c. Investigators probing $4K check want DeKalb CEO May’s emails – http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local/investigators-probing-4k-check-want-dekalb-ceo-may/nnWm3/
d. Interim DeKalb CEO under FBI investigation – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/interim-dekalb-ceo-under-fbi-investigation/nk2nH/
e. Search warrants issued for DeKalb CEO Mays emails – http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/search-warrants-issued-for-dekalb-ceo-may-and-othe/nnWdM/
2. Destruction of government documents and bid-rigging
a. Grand Jury alleges widespread DeKalb corruption – http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/grand-jury-alleges-dekalb-widespread-corruption/nZYZZ/
b. Grand Jury Testimony – https://youtu.be/uwRlXHtIA-k
c. Whistleblower – Corruption in DeKalb: https://youtu.be/eeFVK9mcJgk
d. Whistleblower against DeKalb employees believes he was targeted – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/whistleblower-against-dekalb-employees-believes-he/nYyxx/
3. District Attorney purchasing card (p-card) audit and deficiencies dated 2010
a. DeKalb County Commissioners: “We need ethics training” – http://www.cbs46.com/story/30197995/dekalb-county-commissioners-we-need-ethics-training
b. DeKalb DA James will repay county for meal expenses – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo4H8BJr05o
c. DeKalb DA double-bills taxpayers for expensive meal – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dekalb-da-double-bills-taxpayers-expensive-meal/nn7Pm/
d. DeKalb employee (Bob Lundsten) indicted on 9 felony count – http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/decatur/2015/04/16/robert-lundsten-indicted-9-felonies/25881691/
e. Former DeKalb commissioner’s chief of staff (Bob Lundsten) indicted for theft – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/former-commissioners-chief-staff-indicted-theft/nkwWG/
f. Channel 2 Investigation finds retail spending, few receipts – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6ewXxfgyiw
g. Commissioner Resigns – https://youtu.be/t9zm-LVDnMo
4. District Attorney’s assistant, Clarissa Brown, and the forfeiture account
Media links not available
5. DeKalb County Sheriff’s office made auditors leave the premises dated 12/30/2011
Media links not available
6. Liens against DeKalb County and claims of violation of False Claims Act
a. 2 Investigates: County admits poor job overseeing government program – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/2-investigates-county-admits-poor-job-overseeing-g/nmGr2/
b. Kelvin Walton resigns amid federal investigation – http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/kelvin-walton-resigns-amid-federal-investigation/vCwjhD/
c. 2 DeKalb officials accused of accepting bribes placed on administrative leave – http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/kelvin-walton-resigns-amid-federal-investigation/vCwjhD/
d. DeKalb official refuses to answer 343 questions – http://m.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dekalb-official-refuses-answer-343-questions-fear-/nfDKt/
e. Burrell Ellis’ former secretary takes stand in trial (invokes 5th Amendment) – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/secretary-takes-5th-corruption-case-fearing-briber/nhSHh/
7. Browns Mill Aquatic Center company’s contract and violations
a. Brown Mills Incident – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdJcJ-fimvQ
b. Teen survivor of near drowning shares his story- http://www.cbs46.com/story/29486911/teen-survivor-of-near-drowning-shares-his-story
c. Witness says lifeguard at county pool couldn’t swim – http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/2015/06/24/near-drowning-dekalb-pools-lifeguards/29196173/
d. County missing lifeguard certifications during near drowning – http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/county-missing-lifeguard-certifications-during-near-drowning/
ICEO Lee May’s home repair was made public January 8, 2015. See page 7 of 8 section IV which states: It is alleged that a Commissioner’s personal property was repaired with taxpayers’ money.
View Channel 2 Investigation Reveals possible kickback to DeKalb Officials – http://m.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/ch-2-investigation-reveals-possible-kickback-dekal/nk3Rn/ http://m.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/ch-2-investigation-reveals-possible-kickback-dekal/nk3Rn/
Thank you to Jodie Fleischer and Johnny Edwards for excellent investigative work and reporting!
We have spent over four years gathering documentation to expose violations of policy and procedure as well as alleged criminal activity. The primary method to verify our allegations is to expand the FBI, GBI, and Inspector General investigations to include a criminal third party forensic audit into four departments to include:
1. Purchasing and Contracting
2. Public Works
3. IT and IS
5. LSBE program and the NSP funding
As a watchdog group, we have focused on protecting the taxpayers’ money to ensure transparency, ethics and accountability. We strive to motivate the Board of Commissioners and the Interim CEO of DeKalb County to write and enforce executive policies and procedures that protect taxpayers’ money from mismanagement, waste, abuse and alleged criminal activity. Our actions over the years have focused on our mission pledged to the taxpayers and voters of DeKalb County, Georgia.
It’s time for us to come to the reality that this local government has been in a crisis for far too long. As a watchdog group, we have complained for years about a “cloud of corruption” that gives DeKalb County a bad reputation as well as a black eye hindering economic development and decreasing public trust.
We are requesting a full criminal third party forensic audit to expose the “true” financial picture, shortfalls, and alleged criminal activity within the Watershed, Public Works Department, IT and Purchasing and Contracting Department. We need an answer to the question, “Is there criminal activity that should be prosecuted”?
Until we place restoring public trust as a top priority, taxpayers, property owners, homeowners and business owners recommend the Board of Commissioners immediately demonstrate the value they place in restoring public trust in our local government by enacting the following changes:
• Establish and fund an Internal Auditor.
• Creation of a new anti-corruption unit within the DeKalb Police Department, in concert with the FBI and GBI.
• Support the Board of Ethics and maintain its independence.
We are requesting the FBI, GBI and Inspector General expand their investigations into alleged criminal activity, wrongdoing, and malfeasance to include Kelvin Walton and Nina Hall as well as staff members in the Purchasing and Contracting Department, Public Works Department, IT and Watershed.
Once again, we request RICO classification.
DEKALB WATER MAIN BREAK: AN AFTER ACTION REPORT
BY VIOLA DAVIS
DeKalb residents and businesses learned the hard way with the recent water main break and boil water advisory the reason our county must finance infrastructure upgrades. However, the general public needs to understand in laymen’s term how small errors in the recent water main break created a countywide crisis.
We met with the owner of GS Construction, Alessandro Salvo, in February 2015 concerning an issue and conflict with specification W-019 on covering the water main after repair with Watershed and Capital Improvement Project (CIP) administrators.
Salvo started warning DeKalb early in the year of potential problems with the installation of water mains using #57 stone as bedding and backfill. However, the warnings were met with acts of retaliation such as multiple inspections, slow payment, bad references and mischaracterization of the private business to another county, etc.
We wrote a report on the specifications on water main installation and requested a meeting to avoid legal actions, harm to the public and poor media exposure. The report was addressed to ICEO Lee May and Executive Administrator Zachary Williams. We are writing this article in an attempt to explain, in layman terms, the past errors and warnings the general public must know about the water main break to prevent future water main breaks that create countywide crisis to include:
1. What set up the crisis? The following factors are alleged:
a. The biggest factor is the status of the water system itself.
b. There are 5 large mains leaving the Scott Candler Treatment plant.
c. The 5 large mains are as follows:
1. 30” Tilly Mill >Peachtree Corner>Claremont
2. 30” Tilly Mill>under old GM plant>N. Peachtree
3. 54” P’tree industrial to Winters Chapel
4. 48” P’tree industrial>Winters Chapel >Chamblee Tucker>Mercer Univ.
5. 48” Oakdale>N. Crest >Chamblee Tucker>Henderson Mill>Northlake
d. Only 1 of these 5 mains is functioning properly, #4. Number 4 is the main (water main) that caused the crisis last month.
e. The problems with the 4 water mains, 1, 2, 3 and 5, are as follows:
1. #1 has valves turned off and all indications are that the County does not know which valves, nor where they are.
2. #2 has been shut down for some time due to a slip lining failure. It’s the famous line that had a lane of I-85 shut down for months last year.
3. #3 has valves turned off and all indications are that the County does not know which valves nor where they are.
4. #5 has valves turned off and all indications are that the County does not know which valves nor where they are.
f. The proof that there are multiple valves shut off is the fact that the entire County lost water when #4 water main was depressurized.
g. If the system was functioning properly we should have been able to isolate the section at Henderson Mill and Evans for repair while the other mains rerouted the water to the rest of the County.
2. What is the County doing to address this issue? Time to ask questions and demand results.
3. What amplified July’s hydrant hit into a countywide crises? It is alleged:
a. County crews lacked experience working with these particularly difficult conditions.
b. County crews were sent out with inadequate equipment.
1. No shoring equipment;
2. Excavator was too small to reach down to the shutoff valve;
3. County supplied pumps failed. More than 10 pumps were brought to the site including 2 $70,000 8” Thompson pumps. 7 of the 10 pumps were useless, including the 8” pumps.
4. Bureaucratic decision to re-pressurize the main before the valve could be reached, causing considerably more damage than was necessary.
4. Warning: poor water main maintenance, lack of industry knowledge, poor working equipment and poor leadership will make water main repair problems more frequent and the “norm” instead of the exception. It is alleged:
a. We are one errant tunnel bore, one excavator bucket away from an even larger crisis. If a contractor who is drilling/boring or a contractor excavating strikes the 48” main then that will be the beginning of another huge crisis. We will be without running water for God knows how long while it is repaired.
b. If the only fully functioning transmission main #4 is actually struck, the County will be without water for days while it is repaired.
c. In addition, during the repair, the entire County water system will be completely drained.
d. This will cause an even bigger health crisis than the last time.
e. Many portions of the line will have to be sanitized before they will be safe, costing taxpayers’ huge amounts of money.
f. Re-pressurizing of the entire system will cause multiple line breaks that will need to be repaired at great expense.
5. Having thousands of residents and businesses in DeKalb County sitting in this dangerous situation while the County plays political games and favorites with the Watershed department is irresponsible.
6. We immediately need proper leadership at Watershed Management.
7. It is alleged that the last experienced man left at Watershed is XXXX XXXXX. He will be retiring in December. He is the most qualified man for the position based on his experience level with the County water system. Every effort should be made to retain his services.
Op-Ed by Tom Doolittle
DeKalb County, GA, August 14, 2015 –Op-Ed by Tom Doolittle – The DeKalb County Government (“DeKalb County”) and DeKalb School System (“DeKalb Schools”) are currently being asked to “invest” tax revenue with the City of Doraville. County commissioners have already received a redevelopment plan from that city that confirms the feasibility for a $297 million Tax Allocation District (TAD) in which the county government would provide 22% of a fund to pay off Doraville bonds (the school system’s role would be 57%). Doraville will be the minority player at 21% according the redevelopment plan. So county agencies would have an approximate 80:20 financial commitment against the city—an arrangement appears to give District 2 county commissioner Jeff Rader pause.
On Tuesday, August 11, county commissioners could have voted to accept Doraville’s TAD resolution and approve an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that would detail the roles and responsibilities of each jurisdiction, including finance terms and participation on governing committees. Presumably, a separate agreement goes to the school board for approval. Commissioners demurred and accepted a motion to defer a vote on the TAD based on Rader’s concerns about TADs with cities. The idea would be to negotiate management and oversight opportunities proportionate to each jurisdiction’s financial commitment. Rader, who has planning experience, also mentioned interest in reviewing the particular scope of TAD projects.
The redevelopment plan for the TAD is replete with drawings and information about the Integral Group project at the former General Motors facility, but there is little more than property tax information about another 42% of the TAD—the city center and the Buford Highway corridor. Also the plan is marketed to excite Transit Oriented Development fans even though about thirty percent of the TAD scope relates to areas beyond the immediate influence area of the Doraville MARTA station. More importantly, most people construe such “TOD” plans as being commissioned by MARTA but MARTA has no official involvement with the Doraville product. See redevelopment plan at http://www.scribd.com/doc/269561577/2015-05-20-Urban-Redevelopment-Agency-Full-Agenda-1118
Doraville could have about $50 million in TAD funds to work with if DeKalb County and the school system didn’t participate. Review of the plan indicates that connections to Doraville’s city center, the hallmark of the current GM site redevelopment would be out of the question with only $50 million and would then depend on separate funding from state or county. The same would probably be true for “mobility enhancement” (adding a road to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard) and even a planned innovative linear park system/drainage component. In short, as the GM project developer states, the project would cease to be “Doraville”.
Any county development incentive proposal comes at a bad time for DeKalb County, which is reeling—in good part involving a development authority board and chairman in the process of being replaced by neophytes. Coincidentally, the past week highlighted one other project that was mostly touted for its economic development prospects, giving away land for a professional soccer training facility. Here’s how that bears on the Doraville TAD incentives: (1) commissioners were given no opportunity to suggest changes to negotiating terms, in fact were surprised by the deal and public comments were not allowed and (2) the development authority was the primary DeKalb player.
As far as the appeal of the TAD itself, this will be one deal that will probably eventuate in “yes” votes from all seven commissioners, whether in its current or a reduced scope. That is, assuming the IGA is anywhere near assuring. First, most public officials have viewed TADs as “no brainers” as they bank on future revenues and don’t encumber current tax receipts (a baseline). They have nearly unconscious confidence in real estate markets. Secondly, the TAD has been strangely conflated with the GM plant (“Assembly, Doraville, USA”) project in which the public has been driven by mass media complicity that dwarfs even “Fort Mac” and “The Gulch”. There is nearly universal (and visceral) fascination with the prospects of a remade GM site—and inexplicably the Integral Group, developer du jour.
So DeKalb County is emotionally invested.
The city’s consultant says governments aren’t rolling the dice. They identified no financial risks to this public financing—not one—in its TAD feasibility report. That’s not all, he says explicitly that the city (and thereby, county) carries no bond default accountability—that leaves out the “reputational risk” in which a failure to pay would affect its subsequent bond issues. None of these cautionary issues matters to me or DeKalb taxpayers if Doraville remains on its own—or if developers of speculative projects don’t build public facilities FIRST. But having the TAD and redevelopment plan in DeKalb’s hands is an entirely different matter. DeKalb (and DeKalb Schools) participation puts Doraville itself on trial in my book. If DeKalb’s agencies can’t negotiate an extremely significant role in running Doraville’s TAD—even reshaping it—then Doraville should be on its own.
This editorial opinion should not be construed as a product of Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter’s reporting team. According to the writer, he attended several city council meetings and redevelopment area meetings in 2010 and 2015 and has had discussions with several officials close to the project.
Why Was Michael Bowers’ Name removed as Lead Special Investigator on the 2nd Executive Order?
The difference between ICEO Lee May’s Executive Order No. 2015-1 (1st Executive Order) and 2015-2 (2nd Executive Order)
By Viola Davis, August 9, 2015
Executive Order 2015-1, the 1st Executive Order, had the following language removed from the 2nd executive order. Michael J. Bowers’ name is not mentioned anywhere on the 2nd executive order. Please compare the major differences between the two documents.
In the 1st Executive Order, Michael J. Bowers and Richard L. Hyde’s names are listed as Special Investigators. The law firm of Balch & Bingham, LLP is also named in the 1st executive order. However, Bowers’ name and the law firm was removed from the 2nd executive order. See the language below:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Lee N. May, Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County, Georgia, in consideration of the aforementioned, do hereby appoint Michael J. Bowers and Richard L. Hyde as Special Investigators to provide a thorough systematic review of DeKalb County Government policies and procedures to identify any conflicts of interest, corruption or malfeasance and make specific recommendations in an effort to improve county operations, restore our image and the public’s trust in county government and order as follows:
1. The Special Investigators shall be independent and shall be appointed for a term, not less than 120 days, subject to extensions by the Chief Executive Officer necessitated by the findings of the Special Investigators. The Special Investigators shall be assisted by the law firm of Balch & Bingham, LLP or others they deem necessary to carry out their duties as Special Investigators.
The actions the Special Investigator shall perform were changed. The language from (a) through (f) were removed from the 2nd executive order. Please view the language (a) through (f) below:
a. Evaluate the need to establish an Inspector General office or a similar government position;
b. Review internal investigation protocols;
c. Review the County’s internal controls (Enterprise Risk Management);
d. Review personnel policies and procedures to ensure proper hiring practices;
e. Review the County’s financial controls to ensure the Finance and Budget Departments are achieving their objectives;
f. Review the DeKalb County Ethics Code and other existing county oversight mechanisms to ensure that the county is operating with the highest ethical standards;
The responsibilities of current officials and employees under the authority of the Chief Executive Officer were completely removed from the 2nd executive order. See the language that was removed below:
4. Responsibilities of current officials and employees under the authority of the Chief Executive Officer:
a. In addition to any other reporting obligations, promptly report to the Special Investigators any information concerning corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or of other allegations of misconduct in DeKalb County government;
b. Interference with, obstruction of or dishonesty with the Special Investigators, or their designees, by an official or employee of DeKalb County Government under the direction of the Chief Executive Officer may constitute cause for disciplinary action, up to and including removal from office or employment or other appropriate penalty;
c. Prior to any such questioning, the official or employee, upon request, shall be afforded a reasonable period of time to obtain legal representation at his or her own cost;
d. No official or employee who complies with this directive shall be subject to retaliatory dismissal, discipline or other adverse personnel action, based upon a truthful report.
The penalty phase was removed from the 2nd executive order:
The refusal of any official or employee to answer questions or to fully cooperate with the Special Investigators may be cause for disciplinary action, up to and including removal from office or employment or other appropriate penalty.
The fees due to be paid to Mr. Bowers and all his attorneys were removed from the 2nd executive order. View the language below:
a. The Special Investigators shall be paid for this investigation as follows: Mr. Bowers and all attorneys will bill at a flat rate of $400 per hour; Mr. Hyde and all investigators, at a flat rate of $300 per hour. Paralegals will bill at $150 per hour. The Special Investigators will submit a monthly report to the Chief Executive Officer detailing the hours worked by individual and by task; this report shall include all expenses of the investigation incurred to date.
In Executive Order 2015-2 (2nd Executive Order), Richard L. Hyde’s name is mentioned as the Special Investigator and Michael J. Bowers’ name is removed. The law firm of Balch & Bingham, LLP was also removed. View the new language below:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Lee N. May, Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County, Georgia, in consideration of the aforementioned, do hereby appoint Richard L. Hyde as Special Investigator to provide a thorough systematic review of DeKalb County Government policies and procedures to identify any conflicts of interest, corruption or malfeasance and make specific recommendations in an effort to improve county operations, restore our image and the public’s trust in county government and order as follows:
The 2nd Executive Order had the following language added to include:
A. Prior to any questioning by the Special Investigator or his assistants, the official or employee, upon request, shall be afforded a reasonable period of time to obtain legal representation at his or her own cost;
B. When an employee is requested to give information or participate in an interview, the employee shall be apprised through signing an agreement of his or her right to remain silent; that anything said may be used against him or her in both a criminal or administrative proceeding; and that he or she cannot be disciplined for remaining silent.
The effective date was changed:
a. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately upon signature and publication. This Executive Order, along with Executive Order No. 2015-1, supersedes and replaces the Executive Order issued on March 18, 2015.
We placed copies of both Executive Orders online for the public to review. Once we have copies of the funds paid to the Special Investigators, we will post copies of the checks.
If you have any questions, please email us at UnhappyTaxpayers@gmail.com.
Investigators called DeKalb County Government, “Rotten to the Core”
BY VIOLA DAVIS, AUGUST 8, 2015
Special Investigators, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde, called DeKalb County Government “rotten to the Core”. The investigators were appointed by county Interim CEO Lee May in March 2015 to identify any conflict of interest, corruption or malfeasance and make specific recommendations in an effort to improve county operations, restore our image and the public’s trust in county government.
In June 2015, ICEO Lee May suspended use of county-issued VISA purchasing cards (P-cards) for most of the current users due to preliminary findings from special investigators, Bowers and Hyde. According to an article in CrossroadsNews.com, ICEO May received a preliminary summary by the investigators outlining examples of dubious expenses charges to the county with no apparent direct benefit to county government and/or with no justification or explanation given. Some of the examples as follows:
• Improper use of tax exempt status;
• Purchases of unauthorized items, as outlined in the current policy;
• Splitting purchases to circumvent the county’s $1,000 per transaction limit;
• International airline tickets;
• Dance lessons;
• Personal membership dues paid to various non-mandatory bar associations and other private organizations;
• Self-aggrandizing “donations” made to non-profits and charities;
• Purchases of unauthorized computers and related items.
On August 5th, Bowers and Hyde delivered an investigative update to ICEO Lee May and the DeKalb Board of Commissioners. In the letter, Investigators say they conducted scores of interviews and looked at several hundred thousand documents, including over 40 thousand individual P-card transactions. They stated the extent of P-Card abuse and misuse is astounding. The Special Investigators made note of several improper expenditures which include:
• Employees spent public funds on a cruise to the Bahamas, flower arrangements, a live guitar player, a Christmas tree and a dry cleaning bill for a judge’s robe, according to the investigators.
• The county awarded sole-source contracts despite there being many other qualified vendors available to perform the same work, at a much lower cost to the county.
• Taxpayer funds were routinely used to buy liquor, catered meals, candy, popcorn and pretzels filled with peanut butter for elected officials, department heads and staff members. The county’s own internal auditors have reported this improper spending over the years.
• A high-level official wrecked a county-owned vehicle, causing substantial damage, and then failed to follow proper procedure for reporting the accident.
• In one case, taxpayers paid the impound fee for a county-owned vehicle after an employee was arrested for DUI. The employee resigned and then was rehired after pleading guilty. The public has also paid for traffic fines and toll road penalties.
• Thefts of county property have been covered-up and mishandled. In one case the police were not notified and the thief still draws a paycheck from the county.
• In the last few days, they have found what appears to be a bribery scheme involving a major county department.
According to the AJC, Commissioner Nancy Jester says “things are very bad in DeKalb County; this is not a perception problem. This is a real problem.” Commissioner Jester says the findings are shocking. She says people need to be held accountable. “We need to hold people’s feet to the fire on this. Taxpayers are harmed and we won’t stop wasting money until we root out this corruption.”
ICEO Lee May’s Response to Bowers and Hyde’s Letter
“I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion that DeKalb County is rotten to the core. The overwhelming majority of DeKalb County employees are honest, decent, hard-working, and committed to public service.
We were aware of the underlying issues mentioned in Mr. Bowers’ letter. That is why we hired him to conduct a comprehensive review of county government operations to identify corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or abuse; with a report in 120 days.
The 120 days has come and gone, and it appears the only thing we have to show for it is a 2-page letter full of salacious – but vague – innuendo.
I was informed by Mr. Bowers today that a detailed report will be issued in 3 weeks that will provide me with a road map to reduce our risk exposure to waste, fraud and abuse.”
Interim CEO, DeKalb County Government
Government Watchdog Files Complaint with Attorney General of Georgia Due To DeKalb County’s Refusal to Open Records Request
TO: SAM OLENS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF GEORGIA
FROM: VIOLA DAVIS WITH UNHAPPY TAXPAYER & VOTER
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG FILES COMPLAINT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL OF GEORGIA DUE TO DEKALB COUNTY’S REFUSAL TO ANSWER OPEN RECORDS REQUEST
DATE: MAY 19, 2015
CC: ICEO LEE MAY, DEKALB BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, RESTORE DEKALB, GEORGIA WATCHDOGS, DEKALB COUNTY WATCHDOGS AND ALL APPROPRIATE PARTIES
Government Watchdog Files Complaint with Attorney General of Georgia Due To DeKalb County’s Refusal to Answer Open Records Request
I, Viola Davis, Founder of Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter, submitted a summary of the Open Records Requests denied and/or partially answered by DeKalb County Government to Burke Brennan, DeKalb County Press Secretary, on March 27, 2015. I also informed Interim CEO Lee May and DeKalb County Board of Commissioners of the denied requests.
The prior summary was directed to Burke Brennan per his request. The method in which our Open Records Requests were handled demonstrates a disparity and unequal treatment when private citizens and watchdog organizations submit requests to DeKalb County. However, Burke Brennan delivered four discs to me during a Board of Commissioner’s meeting to answer the request for Kelvin Walton’s emails from January 1, 2010 to the last day of Walton’s employment. Unfortunately, the four discs neglected to answer the following requests:
1. The original Open Records Request made October 8, 2014 to John Matelski, Chief Information Officer, and Barbara Sanders.
2. January 29, 2015 – We sent an email voicing our concern that our Open Records Request was over 3 months old. Michelle Vernon stated they were working on the federal subpoena. We reminded the department that we corrected our Open Records Request a long time ago to extend the dates to the last day Kelvin Walton worked for DeKalb County, or had access to DeKalb County records.
3. The four discs did not include all of Kelvin Walton’s emails for 2013 and 2014.
4. The four discs included emails for 2015 sent to Walton’s email, after Kelvin Walton left employment with DeKalb County.
5. The fact that the county kept Walton’s email account open after he left employment with DeKalb County needs to be investigated.
6. Why did the county purposely refuse to provide Kelvin Walton’s 2013 and 2014 emails to our watchdog ministry? However, they gave us emails dated 2015.
We request the Attorney General of Georgia, Sam Olens, investigate DeKalb County’s negligence and total disregard to adhering to the Georgia Open Records law and the pattern of behavior that “thumbs its nose” at private citizens and watchdog organizations. We plan to file a complaint with Attorney Georgia Sam Olens to hold DeKalb County accountable and restore public trust.
Statement from Get the Cell Out – Atl: Congratulations to everyone involved in every community who helped bring this subject to the forefront of their conversations and who held their elected officials accountable for their actions. And thank you to every person involved in this fight and similar battles taking place across the country. Your willingness to put yourself on the line in order to learn the truth and face skeptics should be an inspiration to others. We would never been able to stand up to the “system” here if there were not success stories of others who had faced the same Goliath, and won their battle before ours.
We appreciate Commissioner Rader and the entire DeKalb County Board of Commissioners for stepping up and taking on this fight against T Mobile while upholding the zoning code in our communities.
Regardless of any bad publicity you may have heard about our county commissioners,
they at least did the right thing for the communities they serve when they all signed a
letter to the CEO’s office, advising that any attempt to gain an “administrative permit”
instead of using the proper channels should be denied and our county’s zoning ordinances
should be upheld.
If you have not educated yourself about the many adverse effects that have been documented about cell phone towers, please look over the many sources available on our website or email us with questions. A good source of information can also be found at the Center for Safer Wireless – http://thecenterforsaferwireless.us.
We also encourage everyone to thoroughly read the new zoning ordinance as suggested by Commissioner Rader and voice any feedback to the county commissioners and CEO’s office as soon as possible.
Federal Judge Backs DeKalb on Denying Cell Tower Permits
In 2011, T-Mobile and the DeKalb Board of Education proposed to build cell towers on 11 school properties located in residential areas. Many citizens and parents organizations were concerned and asked DeKalb County to act. At the urging of Commissioner Kathie Gannon, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners wrote then CEO Ellis and asked that the administration refuse to issue building permits because the tower locations, while on school properties, are zoned residential, which does not permit cell phone towers. The cell tower company and the DeKalb School Board challenged the right of County government to enforce its zoning code on school properties. Recently Federal District Judge Thrash ruled that the County acted properly in refusing to issue the building permits.
“I’m pleased with the Federal Court ruling and that DeKalb enforced this protection of our neighborhoods,” said Gannon. “The cell towers will not be built on the school properties.”
The Commissioner can be reached: http://www.kathiegannon.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cell-phone Tower Update
One of the most pervasive signs of our mobile communications society is the proliferation of cell phone towers across the landscape. In DeKalb, the mobile communications revolution occurred after the widespread development of the landscape, so the infill installation of these structures has been perceived as intrusive in many residential neighborhoods. One recent decision and one pending regulation are relevant and noteworthy.
The recent noteworthy decision is the dismissal of a suit against DeKalb County by T-Mobile, a cellular provider. T-Mobile had sued DeKalb seeking a building permit for structures on two DeKalb County School System (DCSS) properties in District 2: Lakeside High School and Margaret Harris Comprehensive School. T Mobile had entered into a contract with DCSS seeking to invoke DCSS’s exemption from zoning regulation to erect the towers in residential districts where they are otherwise prohibited. Encouraged by the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, the DeKalb County Administration declined to recognize the requested permits as exempt from zoning since the cell towers were not educational facilities. T-Mobile sued, but canceled their contract with DCSS after the Federal Courts ruled in favor of DeKalb. T-Mobile also paid DeKalb County court costs incurred in our defense.
The decision is important because it helps limit exemptions to zoning laws intended to protect neighborhoods from incompatible development. Governments (Federal, State, Local and Public Schools) retain this important prerogative, but it should only be exercised to directly advance their public mission, not simply to generate revenue.
The pending decision on the regulation of cell towers is in our new zoning ordinance, which will soon be considered by the Board of Commissioners. After considerable public input and a thorough investigation of relevant federal legislation, the current proposal would allow cellular antennas within or attached to nonresidential structures legally permitted in single-family neighborhoods. These would include houses of worship or other institutions that are legally permitted to be of sufficient height to make a cellular antenna attractive to a carrier. The new proposal would not allow the cell towers that were the object of the T-Mobile controversy.
The proposed policy turns on the inherent incompatibility of a free-standing antenna with a surrounding single family neighborhood, and not on the concerns that some citizens have about the radio waves generated by the antenna. This is important because federal communications regulations prohibit local regulation of cellular antennas based on radio wave concerns. We convened citizen stakeholders interested in this issue recently, who made suggestion on refining the policy for adoption. The new zoning ordinance can be found online at http://planningdekalb.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/finalDraftZoningCodeJan20151.pdf
The Commissioner can be reached at: http://www.commissionerrader.com or email, email@example.com.
For Immediate Release
December 18, 2014
Fact Sheet: Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Today the President will sign an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and announce its members. The Task Force is part of the Administration’s efforts to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. The Task Force will be chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, and Laurie Robinson, professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University and former Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs.
The Task Force will include law enforcement representatives, community leaders, academics, and youth leaders. Ron Davis, Director of DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office will serve as the Executive Director of the Task Force under the direction of the co-chairs. The Task Force will examine, among other issues, how to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities that they protect, while also promoting effective crime reduction. The Executive Order directs the Task Force to prepare a report and recommendations to be presented to the President. An initial report will be due to the President in March.
The taskforce will engage with Federal, State, tribal, local officials, technical advisors, young leaders, and nongovernmental organizations through meetings and 21st century technology to provide a transparent process to engage with the public. The Task Force will convene listening sessions where they will hear testimony, including proposed recommendations for consideration, from invited witnesses and also receive comments and questions from the public. The first session will be held in Washington D.C. in mid-January. Subsequent listening sessions and additional outreach details, including the online public comment process, is forthcoming.
Recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect. As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.
Task Force members include:
Dr. Cedric L. Alexander
Cedric L. Alexander, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Cedric L. Alexander is the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Public Safety in DeKalb County, Georgia, a position he has held since late 2013. Dr. Alexander is also the National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. In 2013, he served as Chief of Police for the DeKalb County Police Department. Prior to this, Dr. Alexander served as Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport from 2007 to 2013, and from 2006 to 2007, he was Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. From 2005 to 2006, Dr. Alexander was Chief of the Rochester Police Department (RPD) in Rochester, New York, where he previously served as Deputy Chief of Police from 2002 to 2005. Before joining RPD, Dr. Alexander was a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center from 1998 to 2002. He began his career as a Deputy Sheriff in Florida from 1977 to 1981, before joining the Miami-Dade Police Department, where he was as an Officer and Detective from 1981 to 1992. He received a B.A. and M.S. from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, and a Psy.D. from Wright State University.
Charles Ramsey, Appointee for Member and Co-Chair, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Charles Ramsey is the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), a position he has held since 2008. Since 2010, he has served as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum. Commissioner Ramsey began his law enforcement career in 1968 as a cadet with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Over the next thirty years, he held various positions with CPD, including Commander of the Narcotics Division, Deputy Chief of the Patrol Division, and Deputy Superintendent, a role he held from 1994 to 1998. In 1998, he was named Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC), where he served until early 2007. In 2007, Commissioner Ramsey served on the Independent Commission on Security Forces of Iraq, leading a review of the Iraqi Police Force. In addition to his current role at PPD, he also serves as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Commissioner Ramsey received a B.S. and M.S. from Lewis University.
Laurie Robinson, Appointee for Member and Co-Chair, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Laurie Robinson is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University, a position she has held since 2012. She served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in the U.S. Department of Justice from 2009 to 2012. Prior to that, Ms. Robinson served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for OJP and Acting Assistant Attorney General for OJP. Previously, she was a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Team. From 2003 to 2009, Ms. Robinson was the Director of the Master of Science Program in Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. From 1993 to 2000, she served her first term as the Assistant Attorney General for OJP. Before joining DOJ, Ms. Robinson spent over twenty years with the American Bar Association, serving as Assistant Staff Director of the Criminal Justice Section from 1972 to 1979, Director of their Criminal Justice Section from 1979 to 1993, and as Director of the Professional Services Division from 1986 to 1993. She is a Senior Fellow at the George Mason University Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and serves as co-chair of the Research Advisory Committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Vera Institute of Justice. Ms. Robinson received a B.A. from Brown University.
Jose Lopez, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Jose Lopez is currently the Lead Organizer at Make the Road New York (MRNY), a Brooklyn-based non-profit community organization focused on civil rights, education reform, and combating poverty. He became Lead Organizer of MRNY in 2013. Mr. Lopez began his career in 2000 as Youth Organizer with Make the Road by Walking, which later merged with the Latin American Integration Center to form MRNY in 2007. He continued to serve as Youth Organizer with MRNY until 2009, when he became Senior Organizer. Since 2011, Mr. Lopez has represented MRNY on the steering committee of Communities United for Police Reform, a New York City organization advocating for law enforcement reform. From 2001 to 2004, he was an active contributor to the Radio Rookies Project, an initiative of New York Public Radio. He received a B.A. from Hofstra University.
Bryan Stevenson, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Bryan Stevenson is Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to directing the EJI since 1989, he is a Clinical Professor at New York University School of Law. He previously has served as a visiting professor of law at the University of Michigan School of Law. Mr. Stevenson has received the American Bar Association’s Wisdom Award for public service, the ACLU’s National Medal of Liberty, and the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award Prize. Mr. Stevenson received a B.A. from Eastern College (now Eastern University), a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Brittany Packnett, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Brittany Packnett is currently Executive Director of Teach For America in St. Louis, Missouri, a position she has held since 2012. From 2010 to 2012, she was a director on the Government Affairs Team at Teach for America. Ms. Packnett was a Legislative Assistant for the United States House of Representatives from 2009 to 2010. From 2007 to 2009, she was a third grade teacher in Southeast Washington, D.C., as a member of the Teach For America Corps. Ms. Packnett has volunteered as Executive Director of Dream Girls DMV, a mentoring program for young girls, and was the founding co-chair of The Collective-DC, a regional organization for Teach For America alumni of color. She currently serves on the boards of New City School, the COCA Associate Board, the Urban League of Metro St. Louis Education Committee, and the John Burroughs School Board Diversity Committee. Ms. Packnett received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.A. from American University.
Susan Rahr, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Susan Rahr is Executive Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, a position she has held since 2012. From 2005 to 2012, she served as the first female Sheriff in King County, Washington. Ms. Rahr spent over thirty years as a law enforcement officer, beginning as a patrol officer and undercover narcotics officer. While serving with the King County Sheriff’s Office, she held various positions including serving as the commander of the Internal Investigations and Gang Units, commander of the Special Investigations Section, and Police Chief of Shoreline, Washington. Ms. Rahr received a B.A. from Washington State University.
Tracey Meares, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Tracey Meares is the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, a position she has held since 2007. From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Deputy Dean of Yale Law School. Before joining the faculty as Yale, she served as a professor at The University of Chicago Law School from 1995 to 2007. She has served on the Committee on Law and Justice, a National Research Council Standing Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. She was appointed by Attorney General Holder to serve on the inaugural Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Science Advisory Board. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation. Ms. Meares began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She later served as a trial attorney in the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice. Ms. Meares received a B.S. from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School.
Constance Rice, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Constance Rice is a civil rights attorney and Co-Director of the Advancement Project, an organization she co-founded in 1999. In 2003, Ms. Rice was selected to lead the Blue Ribbon Rampart Review Panel, which investigated the largest police corruption scandal in Los Angeles Police Department history. In 1991, Ms. Rice joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and in 1996, she became Co-Director of the Los Angeles office. She was previously an associate at Morrison & Foerster, and began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ms. Rice received a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Roberto Villaseñor, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Roberto Villaseñor is Chief of Police for the Tucson Police Department (the TPD), a position he has held since 2009. He joined the TPD in 1980, and has served as Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and as Assistant Chief from 2000 to 2009. Chief Villaseñor was named Officer of the Year for the TPD in 1996, and has been awarded the TPD Medal of Merit three times. He also received the TPD Medal of Distinguished Service. Chief Villaseñor is the incoming President of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and a Board Member of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). He received a B.S. from Park University and an M.Ed. from Northern Arizona University.
Sean Smoot, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Sean Smoot is currently Director and Chief Counsel for the Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois (PB&PA) and the Police Benevolent Labor Committee (PBLC), positions he has held since 2000. He began his career with PB&PA and PBLC as a Staff Attorney in 1995, before becoming Chief Counsel of both organizations in 1997. Since 2001, Mr. Smoot has served as the Treasurer of the National Association of Police Organizations, and has served on the Advisory Committee for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Rights Center since 1996. From 2008 to 2009, he was a policy advisor to the Obama-Biden Transition Project on public safety and state and local police issues, and was a Member of the National Institute of Justice and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety from 2008 to 2011. Mr. Smoot served as Police Commissioner of Leland Grove, Illinois from 1998 to 2008. He received a B.S from Illinois State University and a J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law.
Audit: DeKalb used inflated crime stats to secure federal grants
By Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014
The statistics provided by DeKalb police to federal grant holders painted a portrait of a county besieged by crime, with more than 11,000 aggravated assaults reported in 2008 alone.
But according to a recent audit by the U.S. Inspector General, that was about 10,000 too many.
The government watchdog found the county also over-reported numbers in every additional crime category. Those stats helped secure more than $2.3 million — money which will likely have to be refunded.
“It was an egregious error,” said DeKalb Police Chief Cedric Alexander. “None of us here were in place, including the grant writer.”
The audit reviewed three grants from Community Oriented Policing Services totaling more than $4.5 million received by the county between July 2009 and September 2013. The money was to hire entry-level police officers and support efforts to reduce child endangerment, but the audit could not account for $783,186. Read the full article: