There were two last minute additions to the Monday Night City Council Agenda as shown below and the two links immediately below documents the only information provided to Council for the December 9th meeting..
Discussion of Request for Reimbursement of Legal Fees for September 12, 2013 Board of Ethics Hearing. (Dr. Adrian Bonser)
Review of the Final Report from the Hearing Officer Dennis Still and the Board of Ethics Recommendations. (Steven Blaske)
Very similar items were listed on the October 14th meeting agenda but at the start of that meeting Councilwoman Bonser deferred the items pulling them from the agenda and is just now bringing back the reimbursement item and Ethics Chairman Steven Blaske is now bringing back the review of the final report. The Oct 14th agenda item includes a receipt for legal expenses whereby no receipts were submitted for the December 9th meeting.
Request by Council Member Adrian Bonser for City Council Review of Ethics Board Recommendation Regarding Stephen Chipka Ethics Complaint Against Council Member Bonser Dated 5-21-13. (Adrian Bonser)Councilmember Bonser has a $3,000 expense account for City expenses but defending yourself in an ethics hearing could easily be deemed outside the typical expense, especially whereby the decision of the hearing officer stated that the complaint was a frivolous, unjustified, derogatory and brought to be a nuisance to Councilmember Bonser.
Ethics hearing officer findings in Bonser / Chipka complaint.
Minutes of Ethics Hearing on 09122013 in favor of Councilwoman Bonser
ACTION ITEM: Request by Council Member Adrian Bonser for Reimbursement of Legal Fees Associated with Ethics Complaint Filed by Stephen Chipka Against Council Member Adrian Bonser Dated 5-21-13. (Adrian Bonser)
Legal expenses of Councilwoman Bonser defending Chipka Complaint.
That being said, the annual expense account as outlined in the Charter states that ...
The mayor shall be provided an annual expense allowance of $5,000.00 and each councilmember shall be provided an annual expense allowance of $3,000.00 for the reimbursement of expenses actually and necessarily incurred by the mayor and councilmembers in carrying out their duties as elected officials of the city.I wish a memo was provided by Councilmember Bonser outlining the basis of her request as well as a full accounting of the reimbursement being requested. There is no other language in the charter or otherwise that allows reimbursing expenses in excess of the $3,000 amount prescribed. But that being said, it could be a fair request for the city to cover the charges of defending a frivolous complaint that probably should have been squashed on the front end of the process.
I believe Council has the power to expend the funds to cover the expense if it decides to do so.
I believe that Council would be well served on Monday night to flip these two items whereby Mr. Blaske reviews the final report before Councilmember Bonser discusses possible reimbursement.
In the final paragraph of the report, the recommendation of the ethics board was that Mr. Steven Chipka should be forced to pay the reasonable costs of processing his frivolous complaint. That raises the issue, can the city legally charge Mr. Chipka with the expenses of the process and hearing and if so, does that include Councilmember Bonser's legal expenses in excess of her allowed $3,000 expense account?
Section 2-262 of Dunwoody code says yes but I question; Mr. Chipka is not a "public servant" therefore I do not see applicability of the Article (Article VIII - Ethics in Chapter 2 Administration of City Code) as outlined in Sec 2-209 Declaration of policy, Sec 2-210 Purposes of article, Sec 2-211 Applicability of article or furthermore an allowance to collect such sanctions against Mr. Chipka in Sec 2-213 Penalties.
I look forward to the discussion and questioning all parties involved.