Monday, April 23, 2007

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Two On Council

ByDOUG NURSE / The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 04/22/07

A Milton man has filed an ethics complaint against two City Council members because they asked the city clerk to publicize a political fund-raiser for their campaigns.Leon Cole Jr., a retired teacher, filed a complaint Wednesday alleging that council members Neal O'Brien and Bill Lusk improperly used city resources to promote a political campaign fund-raiser for them.

"Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Lusk should be formally and publicly reprimanded for their intentional, significant and unlawful personal use of public resources," Cole wrote. He also asked that any staff involved be held accountable.

The city attorney has 30 days to investigate the complaint and make a recommendation to the city ethics board. A fund-raiser was set for O'Brien and Lusk for March 29, and most of the City Council was invited. O'Brien has said he realized that if they all attended, there would be a quorum — which he reasoned would bring the fund-raiser under the rules for a government meeting. Those rules require most such meetings to be open to the public, and they also require that meetings be announced in advance. To keep from running afoul of the public meetings law, O'Brien said he asked City Clerk Jeanette Marchiafava to send an e-mail to newspapers.
The e-mail said: "Good afternoon! There will be a fund-raiser for Neal O'Brien and Bill Lusk, City Council members, City of Milton, at the Atlanta National Golf Club, 350 Tournament Players Drive, Alpharetta, 30004, on Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. Thank you."
Lusk said they were vulnerable to complaint no matter what they did.

"We erred on the side of caution," Lusk said. "We would have been criticized if we hadn't notified the press and we'd had a quorum."Cole said he doesn't want anyone removed from office.
"I'm not vindictive about this," Cole said. "To be removed would be too much. If they don't do anything, I think a message has been sent. I just want them to know we're watching and we're alert."


TA said...

Damned if you do, damned if you don't...

What were they supposed to do in this case?

I don't see that they had much choice in choosing to have the event announced.

If they hadn't, then someone could have filed a complaint if a quorum had occured, regardless of whether city business was to be discussed.

I strongly disagree with Mr. Cole's thoughts as to this instance being "intentional, significant and unlawful personal use of public resources"

Significant can hardly apply to someone sending a quick e-mail to the media...Intentional is misleading as the intent was to keep from running afoul of the public meetings law...Unlawful is a statement of degree, as the majority don't seem to think that speeding just to keep pace with traffic is unlawful, but if they are in excess of the speed limit, then it certainly is unlawful.


Anonymous said...

I believe having the city attorney "investigate" this issue is a waste of taxpayers' money and the city attorney's time. Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Lusk surely have learned the error of their ways and I would bet will be certain to follow appropriate protocol in the future. Others who would dare to do the same thing have also certainly learned their lesson. Let's move on to more pressing issues in our new city.