General Assembly Weakens Ethics Legislation in DeKalb
After a series of political scandals in DeKalb County, it became clear that more effective ethics legislation needed to be adopted. Under the umbrella of a Blueprint for a New DeKalb, DeKalb citizens researched how the Board of Ethics was organized, model ordinances and neighboring jurisdictions. Then they proposed a new ethics law to the DeKalb Delegation of the General Assembly. The Ethic Law changes were also endorsed by a Task Force appointed by the former CEO.
The Legislative Counsel prepared a bill which was approved by the delegation, and a whopping 93% of DeKalb voters approved of the ethics legislation in the 2015 election. DeKalb citizens clearly have a strong consensus and concern for ethics legislation that goes well beyond who currently holds offices.
The method of appointing Board of Ethics members was challenged in court. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that members could not be appointed by non-elected organizations (such as the Bar Association, Leadership DeKalb, Chamber of Commerce and a consortium of DeKalb colleges). The DeKalb Delegation to the General Assembly started to make a simple fix to the appointment process, but ended up making severe changes that will greatly weaken the ethics law in DeKalb County.
Unless the Governor vetoes the DeKalb Delegation ethics bill, there will be a special election in November of this year for DeKalb citizens to vote on the several changes. Commissioner Gannon will be voting NO. The matter needs to be returned to the Delegation to correct the appointment process and restore the full viability of the Board of Ethics.