Friday, June 8, 2012

City of Dunwoody Ethics Board - do they need thier own legal councel?

I have been busy on a business trip therefore have stepped away from Dunwoody business & related blogging for a bit and therefore didn't know until after the fact that this meeting was called.

After checking city agenda listings, it appears that the Dunwoody Board of Ethics were called together on Thursday night at 5 pm to request the appointment of Outside Legal Counsel.  I don't know the outcome of this meeting (maybe the video will be up soon), but I do see it listed as a discussion item on my Monday Night City Council agenda therefore I look forward to the discussion.

I know for a fact that an ethics charge was filed and that the Ethics Board will be called upon soon to hear its first case but I don't understand why the hiring of an outside attorney is needed prior to knowing the specifics of the complaint, the City Attorney's written analysis, nor a determination that the City Attorney (now the Lawfirm of Riley McLendon) would be in conflict because they would be representing the City, Mayor or a member of Council?

I have copied a few of the pertinent sections of Dunwoody code on the issue below but please feel free to do your own reading of the ethics sections on Municode.

Sec. 2-253. - Creation; membership; term; compensation Ethics Board

(i) Staff support. The city council shall provide such staff support for the board as the city council determines to be necessary for the board to fulfill its duties and responsibilities. The city attorney is designated to be the legal advisor for the board, except that the city attorney is not authorized to represent the board in any legal action if doing so would create a conflict which would prevent the city attorney from also representing the mayor, the city manager, or city council. The city clerk shall serve as recording secretary to the board.

Sec. 2-258. - Procedures for hearing complaints.
(f)  The city attorney shall provide the board with a preliminary written analysis of the complaint no later than 30 days from the date the complaint is filed with the city clerk.

Sec. 2-254. - Duties and powers of Ethics Board
(8) When necessary, retain outside legal counsel and other experts as needed after solicitation of recommendations from the city attorney (unless the need to retain outside counsel is caused by a conflict involving the city attorney's office), and upon approval by the city council of a contract for services approved as to form by the city attorney.

(Note to news media, blogs and anyone interested in Dunwoody business: view the City Meeting Agenda page on a daily basis as meeting items are sometimes added with limited (24 hour notice).  Note to self, see if City website RSS feed for agenda updates or additions can be fixed and then verify that the public.govdelivery system is properly sending emails as it is suppose to on meeting agenda updates.


GaryRayBetz said...

John, FYI -

"City of Dunwoody Ethics Board - do they need thier own legal councel?"

your title for this post has a couple of errors, that I know have to be typos as you are a busy man.

Question, will the taxpaying public ever have access to an hour-by-hour breakdown listing the activities that the leak investigator charged the city $150.00 for each of those hours? And if to protect the innocent, redacted version would be fine,


John Heneghan said...

Mr. Betz, per your inquiry I filed the following open records request with the City Clerk and used the email address that you have used to communicate with me previously.

"Sharon, I have received an open records request for the complete billing of the Wilson investigation. Please provide me and Mr. Betz electronic copies of the invoices, work orders, purchase orders or anything other documentation or emails detailing the financial arrangement between the City and the law firm / investigators who completed the report completed by Attorney Bob Wilson. Thanks, John"

City of Dunwoody financial records are always open to inspection and we welcome open records requests. In the future, you or anyone can make open records requests by sending it directly to Ms. Sharon Lowery at

You (and I) should be recieving a reply early next week and when I obtain the financial package I will post it on line.

John Heneghan said...

Update on the Thursday night meeting.

The ethics board, with three of its five members present, voted to approve a recommendation that Richard Carothers serve as the ethics board attorney through the complaint process.

"It's all for your protection, the board's protection and the complainant's protection," said Bill Riley, who serves as the city's assistant attorney through the Riley McLendon law firm.

GaryRayBetz said...

Thank-you Sir, for your expeditiousness and responsiveness, which your constituents have become so accustomed. And I will in the future place these requests through the proper channels. It's just that you have essentially become the face of the city for so many of us "At-Large" citizens. Once again, thank-you.