Friday, June 15, 2012

Detailed invoices document the Dunwoody Ethics investigation as well as $50,000.00 in expenses.


After numerous news stories regarding the investigation into the breach of executive session, a resident asked me if the details of the billing would ever become public therefore I took the liberty of filing an open records request on the residents behalf.  This afternoon the City Clerk fulfilled the request within the allotted time and sent three documents both to me and the resident via email.  I have taken the liberty of combining all three documents into the one linked above.

The invoices provide names and dates which gives insight into the investigation and the preparation of what is now the final ethics report written by Wilson, Morton & Downs

The Ethics Board has been given the complaint which references the Wilson report and soon Councilwoman Adrian Bonser will be able to officially give her rebuttal to the Wilson accusations.

12 comments:

Max said...

Councilman Heneghan:

I continue to appreciate your efforts to ensure that "...transparency in Government breeds self-corrective behavior." Our Ethics Board can now observe several 'tells' detailed in Mr. Wilson's professional services invoice(s).

Those observations ought to generate a series of questions to factually determine a legitimate outcome by the Board.

I am dismayed that roughly $50,000 was spent on this matter, but that expense is minor compared to loss of public confidence in City government resulting from subornation of process.

Personal lives are disrupted, yet, the law is clear about representation and confidentiality. This matter touches on virtually every aspect of the rights, privileges, and values we as Americans hold sacrosanct; summarized: We are a Nation governed at Law.

In public service the risk of making mistakes is high, especially when matters become heated and personalities conflict. The consequence of public sector mistakes are there for all to see, unlike the private sector, which abhors bad press and publicity.

I am hopeful my neighbors will join me in thoughtful reflection as this matter unwinds. A wrongful act, regardless of how noble a purpose or even ignorance of the law, is unjustifiable. Now, a handful of fellow citizens are tasked to make a decision none of them wished for or could ever anticipate.

We all should be grateful some stepped up into the dangerous arena of public service. In my opinion, Dunwoody just paid $50,000 in tuition for a doctoral course in governance.

Bob Turner said...

Sorry, Max, but I do take issue with your statement, "A wrongful act, regardless of how noble a purpose or even ignorance of the law, is unjustifiable."

I do believe that a noble purpose would have been if someone had leaked the goings-on with Watergate or the Iran–Contra affair, the statements made at the Wannsee Conference, how the Penn State administration was covering up Jerry Sandusky's doings, etc.; therefore, I do not believe your line "...regardless of noble a purpose..." can be used as ubiquitously as you infer.

There are noble purposes that well justify a "wrongful act".

Max said...

Mr. Turner,

Wannsee, Penn State, Iran-Contra, and Watergate, are ALL examples of wrongful acts whereby a righteous person risked everything to inform the public. The law provides a venue for 'whistleblowers,' and it was not used in this case.

In Dunwoody, portions of a lawful Executive Session were publicly disclosed to a variety of sources. I respect Dick Williams for committing to using 'leaked' sources, as a publisher he has that legal right. In this matter, I do not like it at all.

The argument that everything ought to be in the public eye, thus confidential Executive Sessions are intrinsically wrong is flawed because CORRECT use of such meetings protects the public good, especially in real estate matters.

Open negotiations will unilaterally reduce Dunwoody's bargaining position in a real estate deal, that is a virtual certainty.

The technical distinction of a real property 'sale' versus a 'purchase' being under the purview of then current Executive Session rules was deemed moot by Mr. Wilson. This complex transaction is a creation of both a sale and a purchase, inextricably linked, according to learned Counsel, whose reputation is impeccable regardless of past or present POLITICAL affiliations or affinities.

The distinction between your historical references and the Dunwoody situation is stark, incontrovertible, and basic.

Finally, I agree with you, there are noble purposes that well justify a "wrongful act."

Robespierre said...

Much agreed, Mr. Turner!

The suppression of the truth is never a virtue. History proves that shining the light of transparency on a government prevents oligarchies from lining their own pockets or despotic regimes from committing heinous inhumane acts. We need more transparency, not more cover-ups!

Max said...

Greetings Robespierre,

I am quite sure you envy and relish light from your cold, dark crypt. May I share the sunniest sunshine with you here:

http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2012/05/31/dunwoody-we-can-be-a-city-of-light/

Or how about here:

http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2012/06/06/clearing-a-path-to-a-more-open-government/

And I agree with you, "We need more transparency, not more cover-ups!"

Joe Seconder said...

John -- I'd like to educate myself as to the approval & expenditure of city funds and signing contracts for services. Can you provide a reference? My impression was that with the 7 member council & mayor, that you all had equal footing and that spending money would have to be approved by a majority of the council.

Is it spelled out in the City's Charter where the City Manager has up to a certain dollar amount of discretionary funds available to him at his disposal without going through Council? Can the City Manager or Mayor sign a contract for services and commit to expenditures without the Council's vote?

Thanks!

DunwoodyTalk said...

Joe,

I think the magic number Warren can spend on his own is $50,000. The idea was that council need not meet every time a purchase needs made. But if it is $50,000, that is way too high. The number should be $5,000.

Kerry de Vallette said...

I agree with Max that this was not a "whistleblower" case. John correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the Mayor or any Council member could challenge the City Attorney's decision regarding whether or not a vote such as this should be held in Executive session. If they disagree they can appeal to Council to vote for seeking the opinion of outside Counsel. If there are 4 votes in favor I believe the item would be delayed until such time as that issue was settled.

John Heneghan said...

Joe, you are correct that we are all equals but the Mayor is the Mayor, therefore I allow him to lead and/or listen to all members of council when they have a priority they want done. I also have the responsibility to give feedback and perspective on suggestions of others.

Rick is correct; the City Manager is given a $50,000 limit before coming to council for full vote and he routinely comes before us for less on items that may be politically charged or where he needs guidance as to the will of the council.

In the case of the leak investigation, we were told by Mayor Davis that the city had hired the Wilson firm at the low rate of $150 per hour in order to get to the bottom of the breach. No big discussion as we were all under suspicion, therefore the Mayor (with the assistance of City Staff) handled as he saw fit without the full vetting or vote of council on the expenditure.

Kerry, I agree with you on outside council if so requested, but also know that I wouldn't wait for three others to have to join me.

If I wasn't happy with the legal sufficiency of an Exec Council session then I would owe it to myself to raise the issue and then if not handled to my satisfaction, walk out with a quick explanation as to why.

Max said...

"If I wasn't happy with the legal sufficiency of an Exec Council session then I would owe it to myself to raise the issue and then if not handled to my satisfaction, walk out with a quick explanation as to why."

Councilman John Heneghan June 12,2012

That is EXACTLY what one ought to have done, IF an Executive Session was inappropriate. Another approach would be to use existing 'whistle-blower' processes to express one's concern.

I respect neighbor Gary Ray Betz's opinion, we all have a right to express them, but I just don't understand his point of view.

How is it that Councilor Bonser is being persecuted? Recent actions escalated this matter to a higher level.

Charging the entire City Council, City Manager, and the former City Attorney with an ethics violation is unseemly; it reflects poorly on the judgment, intent, and character of Councilor Bonser, in my opinion.

The phrase, "the best defense is a good offense," comes to mind.

It ought not be this way and I am extremely disappointed.

Kerry de Vallette said...

John - thanks for your explanation on 6/17. If I understand you correctly your position is that had you felt the meeting was "illegal", or not appropriate for Executive session, you would have stated so and then left the meeting?

I agree with you and believe that is an appropriate action on the part of a Council member; or to request that your objection and reason for objection to the meeting being held in ES be duly noted for the record by the City Clerk, then remain at the meeting, but abstain from any vote so as to confirm your protest.

Thanks again John for your response.

Bob Turner said...

In the end, I do hope that folks will recognize what a courageous woman she is - to press on when her civic honor is disparaged and her personal life is libeled by very small-minded chauvinistic persons, and to weather the same acrimonious intolerance that was shown as well to a previous council person.

This is same the perception I am hearing from every person that I discuss this subject with. It is only a blogger or two and a handful of vitriolic commenters (as well as, of course, the good old boy network) that are actively sniping about our good councilwoman. Everyone I talk with is very supportive of her and observe, as I, her being unfairly persecuted.