The Reed Administration takes very seriously the allegations involving contractors E.R. Mitchell Jr. and Charles P. Richards Jr., who have pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe officials in order to win city business.
Since the allegations were brought to our attention, the City of Atlanta has cooperated with the U.S. Department of Justice. We will continue to do so.
As an administration committed to the highest ethical standards, we have zero tolerance for unlawful behavior. Anyone found guilty of wrongdoing in this investigation should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Naturally, we are deeply disappointed that public employees may have taken advantage of the procurement system. This kind of unethical behavior has broken the public’s trust, and the trust of Mayor Kasim Reed, who has never been implicated in any wrongdoing.
The City of Atlanta has been absolutely forthright in its efforts to be as helpful as possible regarding this investigation.
The release of more than 1.4 million pages of documents related to this case demonstrates our firm belief in transparency.
Over the course of two decades in elected office, Kasim Reed has never wavered in his support for sunshine laws and transparency. He will not do so now.
The documents the city released on February 9 hold the same information that was provided to the U.S. DOJ, except for the redactions of personal information such as social security numbers.
Those redactions required the city to release the documents on paper first — the fastest way to get the information into public view while still protecting the private data of innocent individuals.
Some in the media criticized the City for releasing so much paper at once. Curiously, the same outlets had no complaint when we released two million pages of documents in 2012 relating to concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
If the City had waited for the appropriate electronic version of these documents to be prepared, the press would have criticized us for taking too long.
Ultimately, the City worked as quickly as possible to make one million pages of documents available electronically by Friday – about a week after the paper release.
The truth takes time. We urge caution in the public rush to judgment, just as we reject sensationalist impulses to tie Mayor Reed’s administration to previous City Hall scandals, as if all governments are one and the same.
Illegal activity is not tolerated in this administration. Whenever we have learned of misconduct at Atlanta City Hall, we have dealt with it immediately and decisively.
In January 2014, at the Mayor’s request, the City of Atlanta’s Law Department opened an investigation into the Office of Buildings. The Law Department investigated reports of behavior that violated the city’s ethics code and policies.
As a result of its findings, we separated from six employees who violated city policy. In addition, the city implemented a new streamlined permitting process to further strengthen operations and standard practices within the Office of Buildings.
In this same fashion, we have learned lessons from the Mitchell/Richards investigation and we will fully examine our procurement process.
While no bribe for any amount should be minimized in any way, it should not detract from the work at hand and the progress at our back and on our horizon.
The City of Atlanta is experiencing historic growth. With an annual budget of $2 billion and 8,500 dedicated employees, Atlanta is in its strongest financial condition in 40 years, due largely to the leadership of Mayor Reed and his administration.
We have our highest credit rating in 50 years, with more than $153 million in cash reserves, up from $7.4 million when Mayor Reed took office. Crime is down 27 percent over the same period.
In our final year in office, we will remain an administration dedicated to transparency, to hard work and to positive results, the likes of which cannot be disputed.
Dan Gordon is chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta.