Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Board finds former Milton official violated ethics code.

By Ralph Ellis
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former Milton City Council member Tina D’Aversa won’t be punished harshly by the city -- if at all -- for an ethics code violation that was wrapped up in politics.

The city ethics board Tuesday night found D’Aversa broke the code but didn’t recommend any discipline to be dispensed by the city council. The council could decide to send D’Aversa a written reprimand at most -- or do nothing at all.

“She has suffered already from losing the election,” ethics board member Kristin White said near the end of a five-and-a-half hour hearing. “Using the ethics board as a tool during the campaign concerns me. I feel a lot of damage has already come from this complaint.”

D ’Aversa was accused of sending a Sept. 3 e-mail to Joe Longoria, her election opponent, and offering an appointment to the city's Highway 9 Design Guideline Committee if he would withdraw from the November race. He did not withdraw and easily beat D’Aversa.

The complaint was filed two weeks before the election by one of D’Aversa’s political rivals, former council member Neil O’Brien.

D’Aversa, a public school teacher, has been one of the most vocal members of the slow-growth movement in Milton, a 3-year-old city in the northernmost tip of Fulton County. She has said O’Brien filed the complaint as political payback because she supported the candidate who beat him in 2007, a claim O’Brien denies.

D'Aversa’s e-mail to Longoria said: "My intention is for you to join a board or committee and to withdraw your application to seek my council position serving from District 5. …”

D’Aversa testified Longoria told her he was running for council only because the city government didn’t seem interested in his offer to serve on committees. She said she just wanted to help Longoria and copied the e-mail to the mayor and city manager, which she said showed nothing improper was going on.

“I had no intention to bribe Mr. Longoria or anybody else to leave the race,” she said.

Longoria testified he never considered filing a complaint himself, hardly knew O’Brien and didn’t collaborate on the complaint. Longoria said he made it clear to D’Aversa he wanted only to run for city council.

“I felt like there was something not quite right [about the e-mail] but not exactly a bribe,” he said.

Mayor Joe Lockwood and City Manager Chris Lagerbloom testified they read copies of the e-mail and didn’t see anything unusual. If they had, they said, they would have notified the city attorney.

“It didn’t strike me as anything out of the norm,” Lockwood said, noting that Milton candidates often tried to talk their opponents out of running.

O’Brien, who didn’t testify, said he was glad the issue was settled, but was “a little disheartened that there’s a sentiment this is business as usual.”

This was Milton’s fifth ethics hearing and the first to find a violation.

D’Aversa said Wednesday that she didn't know if she would appeal the decision to Fulton County Superior Court. O’Brien also filed a state ethics complaint, which is pending.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mayor Lockwood, for being honest. Though it may offend some, this type of political bartering is done frequently. However, it's unusual to see it in writing.

Anonymous said...

After reading the many comments posted here regarding Milton Councilwoman Karen Thurman and the unethical businesses that she and her family are listed as investors with, I decided to do a little research. I have heard for years that she and her family are heavily invested with development. It appears that her family has now "invested" in Cherokee County. We would greatly appreciate if someone that knows her would ask if her family could please pay their past due taxes of $10,277.59, on the 16.73 acres across from Allmond Tree Farms.

The great thing about Cherokee County is that all land transactions including all loan information is available on line for free. It's great because we can really see what developers are up to.

Anonymous said...

Gee, if she can't pay $10,000+ in taxes, how will she ever pay the State of Tennessee the $10.8 million owed for crooking military families with her unlicensed loan company?

Anonymous said...

If I had to bet, Mayor Lockwood suggested the bribe to his special "friend" Tina.
Anyone who thinks this kind of thing is ok or business as usual should just move to Latin America.

Too bad the Board apparently had such a tough time calling a bribe a bribe. Ya gotta admire how far some will go to support a friend...according to some who watched Lisa Cauley reading from Tina's lawyer's script all night.

Anonymous said...

Where was Cauley's sidekick Norvell?

Anonymous said...

I hear Thurman had her sidekick Lusky right there too. What poor taste. Why did she feel she needed to be there to watch?

Anonymous said...

Their guilt.

Anonymous said...

You dont mean that they might have been involved with their old cronies behind the scenes, do you?

Anonymous said...

Maybe one day something bad will happen to those two, a forclosure or ethics charge, then everyone else can come watch them so the will see what it feels like.