Atlanta to vote on transparency

Atlanta to vote on transparency

The Atlanta City Council on Monday will consider an ordinance that creates a transparency officer, requires mandatory annual open records training for employees and establishes a public website that tracks public records requests. The new law was the result of months of negotiations between the city and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News over reforms to correct what the news...
Atlanta taxpayers unlikely to recoup illegal employee bonuses, prizes

Atlanta taxpayers unlikely to recoup illegal employee bonuses, prizes

The city of Atlanta might be able to reclaim some of the $800,000 in bonuses and prizes handed out by former Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration and council members at the end of last year, but it would have to sue city employees to do it. That’s the opinion of Attorney General Chris Carr’s office, which told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week that “any city...
GBI sends Atlanta open records investigation to AG’s office

GBI sends Atlanta open records investigation to AG’s office

The state criminal investigation into open records practices at Atlanta City Hall has moved into its next stage. The GBI on Monday turned over its case file to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office, which will decide whether the evidence supports criminal charges against members of former Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration. Carr’s office ordered the GBI probe in March...
Atlanta Mayor Bottoms puts city expenses on internet for public review

Atlanta Mayor Bottoms puts city expenses on internet for public review

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Tuesday announced that she had put the city’s checkbook on the internet for all to see — an historic move that coincides with a painful time at City Hall. At a press conference Tuesday, Bottoms and her senior staff demonstrated how they had made it possible to track individual expenditures by department, vendor, date and fund for the first time. The...
Atlanta Mayor Bottoms puts city’s finances online for public inspection

Atlanta Mayor Bottoms puts city’s finances online for public inspection

For the first time in the City of Atlanta’s history, the public can now review individual city expenses on the internet. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a press conference on Tuesday unveiled her “Open Checkbook” — an online portal for the tracking of individual city expenditures. The public can now search for payments by vendor, department and time period from January 2017 through...
Atlanta grapples with city’s credit card policy in wake of subpoenas

Atlanta grapples with city’s credit card policy in wake of subpoenas

In 2016, Atlanta’s chief financial officer used his city-issued credit card to book three international business-class flights at a cost of $27,770. One of those trips was to Barcelona, where CFO Jim Beard also swiped his card for $3,800 on hotel rooms and $1,040 in restaurants. Taxpayers picked up a $2,000 restaurant tab from Beard’s card in Singapore that year, without any explanation...
Atlanta City Council President Moore proposes compliance department

Atlanta City Council President Moore proposes compliance department

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore on Wednesday called on her colleagues to create an independent compliance office to put teeth into enforcement of the city’s code and mete out disciplinary action for employees and elected officials for violations. Her call for an independent agency, governed by its own board and with the power to investigate and render penalties for violations, comes...
Report: Ex-Atlanta Mayor Reed lacked the authority to give bonuses

Report: Ex-Atlanta Mayor Reed lacked the authority to give bonuses

Former Mayor Kasim Reed lacked the legal authority to dole out more than half a million in dollars in bonuses late last year, and the city’s former chief financial officer abused his position by authorizing a bonus for himself, according to a joint report released Wednesday by the city’s independent auditor and ethics office. Jim Beard, who left the CFO position earlier this year...
Questions raised about Atlanta probe of South Africa trip payment

Questions raised about Atlanta probe of South Africa trip payment

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was not interviewed before an outside law firm provided a city board with the results of its investigation into a $40,000 payment Reed directed to cover luxury airfare to South Africa. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have learned law firm McFadden Davis interviewed Reed after delivering an oral report during a closed-door executive session...
New subpoena focuses on Kasim Reed travel, mayor’s office credit card use

New subpoena focuses on Kasim Reed travel, mayor’s office credit card use

The federal investigation into Atlanta City Hall corruption has now zeroed in on former Mayor Kasim Reed’s meetings, movements and the justifications for taxpayer-funded travel during his eight years in office. According to a subpoena, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, a federal grand jury is demanding that the city turn over calendars, credit card statements...
What are p-cards and why does Atlanta use them?

What are p-cards and why does Atlanta use them?

Many state and local governments prefer the purchasing card (p-card) system over the traditional purchasing order process for the same reason you use your credit card for purchases. It’s simple, it’s cheap and it saves time.  The city of Atlanta Department of Procurement, responsible for all city purchases, is tasked with keeping operations efficient and cost-effective...
Feds demand 8 years of Reed, mayor’s office travel and p-card records

Feds demand 8 years of Reed, mayor’s office travel and p-card records

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have obtained a new federal grand jury subpoena seeking records of Mayor Kasim Reed and his office’s credit card spending and travel for the entirety of his two terms in office.  The subpoena seeks Reed’s daily calendar covering his eight years in office, as well as the purchasing card expense records for the mayor’s...
Atlanta paid $21,000 to bury beloved staffer. But was it legal?

Atlanta paid $21,000 to bury beloved staffer. But was it legal?

When a beloved deputy commissioner in Atlanta’s Public Works Department died in 2013, Mayor Kasim Reed wanted to help the family by paying for the funeral and related expenses. He then handed the bills to taxpayers. Legal defense for Atlanta judge’s ethics case climbs to $56K Atlanta’s corruption probe-related legal bills top $7.5M, AJC finds Taxpayers cover $60K Harvard tuition...
State Senate study committee explores challenges, benefits of Hartsfield-Jackson takeover idea

State Senate study committee explores challenges, benefits of Hartsfield-Jackson takeover idea

State senators discussed Wednesday how creating an airport authority to run Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport could bring a change in management amid a federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall. The state Senate study committee convened its first meeting Wednesday to look at the idea of creating an airport authority to manage the world’ s busiest airport, which is currently...
MARTA offered job to Atlanta official amid federal probe

MARTA offered job to Atlanta official amid federal probe

MARTA offered a job to a former top Atlanta official just days before federal investigators charged her with accepting bribes to steer city contracts to a vendor. Katrina Taylor-Parks, former deputy chief of staff to Mayor Kasim Reed, was set to become MARTA’s new senior director of community outreach, but the agency withdrew the job offer after the charges against here were unsealed Aug...
Watchdogs question Rec Authority leader hiring for Atlanta Gulch legal work

Watchdogs question Rec Authority leader hiring for Atlanta Gulch legal work

The city of Atlanta has hired the stadium authority’s de facto leader to help negotiate a multi-billion dollar deal to develop the Gulch, raising questions about whether he can fairly look out for the best interest of both. The city and the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority own land in the downtown area that a California developer is looking to turn into offices, retail and hotel...
Legal defense for Atlanta judge’s ethics case climbs to $56K

Legal defense for Atlanta judge’s ethics case climbs to $56K

Legal representation of Municipal Court Judge Terrinee Gundy, which the city of Atlanta now says was improper, will nonetheless cost taxpayers $56,000, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have learned. The last of Gundy attorney Frank Strickland’s legal invoices were submitted to the city’s Law Department on Aug. 6 — two weeks after City Attorney Nina...
Atlanta City Hall scandal: another guilty plea as probe intensifies

Atlanta City Hall scandal: another guilty plea as probe intensifies

The federal investigation of Atlanta City Hall is intensifying and adding new investigators and prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said Wednesday, moments after the probe recorded its fifth guilty plea from a former top aide to Mayor Kasim Reed. Flanked by top local agents with the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Pak suggested there are more indictments to come...
Former Reed aide pleads guilty in corruption case

Former Reed aide pleads guilty in corruption case

Former Kasim Reed aide Katrina Taylor-Parks became the second high-ranking Atlanta official to plead guilty in the federal corruption investigation of City Hall Wednesday. Taylor-Parks, Reed’s former deputy chief of staff and a 23-year City Hall veteran, pleaded guilty to accepting $4,000 in bribes from a city vendor and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation. She faces...
Atlanta City Council members say crackdown on lobbyists needed

Atlanta City Council members say crackdown on lobbyists needed

As part effort of an ongoing effort to reform how business is conducted at City Hall, four Atlanta City Council members announced legislation on Monday intended to force lobbyists to clearly identify themselves and the companies they represent. The council members are concerned about people who appear before City Council to push for action on certain issues but fail to mention they are paid representatives...
Atlanta City Hall: Former Reed aide charged with bribery

Atlanta City Hall: Former Reed aide charged with bribery

A second member of former Mayor Kasim Reed’s cabinet has been charged with conspiracy and accepting bribes in the federal corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall. Katrina Taylor-Parks, a 23-year veteran of City Hall, was accused of accepting a $2,000 bribe in 2013 through a company she owned. Her husband, DeAnthony Parks, also allegedly accepted a $2,000 payment but was not charged. The...
Feds charge Reed’s deputy chief of staff in Atlanta corruption probe

Feds charge Reed’s deputy chief of staff in Atlanta corruption probe

There are new charges filed in the federal corruption investigation of Atlanta City Hall. Katrina Taylor-Parks, who served as deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Kasim Reed, was charged in a criminal information unsealed Wednesday morning with accepting bribes in 2013 from an unidentified city vendor. The money was provided to either Parks, or her husband DeAnthony Parks, according to the charging...
US Justice Department adds prosecutors to Atlanta office

US Justice Department adds prosecutors to Atlanta office

U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak has added more firepower to his stable of federal prosecutors in Atlanta, including new attorneys with expertise in fraud, government investigations, racketeering, forfeiture and asset recovery. Pak announced Monday that he has hired eight new attorneys for his office, which has been investigating corruption at Atlanta City Hall for two years. That...
Attorney: Reed, city disguised legal fees in Southwell settlement

Attorney: Reed, city disguised legal fees in Southwell settlement

The secret settlement terms former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed agreed to with Miguel Southwell, the airport chief he fired in 2016, disguised a $65,000 legal fee as a job placement expense for Southwell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned. Last week, the AJC and Channel 2 Action News reported that the secret terms included a $147,000 payout to Southwell that came from undisclosed sources. Now...
Reed, city concealed secret $147K payout to fired Atlanta airport boss

Reed, city concealed secret $147K payout to fired Atlanta airport boss

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed reached secret terms in a settlement with the airport general manager he fired in 2016, agreeing to pay Miguel Southwell $147,000 more than was disclosed to the City Council and the public, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found. The August 2016 settlement, reached in the heat of the presidential campaign, ended public accusations of illegal conduct...
FAA probes possible misuse of Atlanta airport funds; agency cites AJC story

FAA probes possible misuse of Atlanta airport funds; agency cites AJC story

The Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation into the possible unlawful use of revenue at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport based on an article published in The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The news story, which was published on AJC.com in late June, details how the city paid three law firms more than $7 million to respond to federal subpoenas from a grand jury investigating...
City of Atlanta’s attempt at transparency questioned

City of Atlanta’s attempt at transparency questioned

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms unveiled her open checkbook initiative in April, promising to “set a new standard for government transparency.” But nearly four months later, the program that will allow citizens to track city spending to the penny via on online portal is not operational. And Tuesday, the chairman of the city council’s finance committee questioned the manner in...
Watchdogs: Atlanta skirting records law in probe of $40,000 payment

Watchdogs: Atlanta skirting records law in probe of $40,000 payment

A metro Atlanta law firm, hired to look into a $40,000 payment for luxury airfare for former Mayor Kasim Reed and staff members, reported its findings to the city’s current administration verbally instead of in writing, a maneuver government watchdogs say is an attempt to circumvent the state’s mandates on open records. Invest Atlanta CEO Eloisa Klementich was reprimanded by...
Corruption probe at Atlanta City Hall shifts from bribes to spending

Corruption probe at Atlanta City Hall shifts from bribes to spending

Federal investigators over the past two years have peered into nearly every corner of Atlanta City Hall. The corruption probe started with a subpoena related to a pair of outside contractors and one of former Mayor Kasim Reed’s campaign advisers. Then it pivoted, with one aimed at the airport, Watershed and Public Works departments. This spring, investigators peeked into Reed’s wallet...
Feds seek records of payouts to former Reed aides in latest subpoena

Feds seek records of payouts to former Reed aides in latest subpoena

At least eight members of former Mayor Kasim Reed’s cabinet of advisers received lump-sum payouts totaling more than $259,000 for accrued leave during his last two years in office, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of the city’s payroll data. Those payouts are among those targeted in a new subpoena delivered to Atlanta City Hall last week by federal agents, whose...
New subpoena seeks leave, payout records of ex-Mayor Reed’s cabinet

New subpoena seeks leave, payout records of ex-Mayor Reed’s cabinet

The federal corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall has expanded again — this time into former Mayor Kasim Reed’s circle of closest advisers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned Monday. U.S. prosecutors last week issued a subpoena demanding documentation of all requests and approvals for any type of leave for each member of Reed’s cabinet, from Jan. 1, 2014, through Jan...
Invest Atlanta CEO loses contract but not job over Reed travel payment

Invest Atlanta CEO loses contract but not job over Reed travel payment

Invest Atlanta CEO Eloisa Klementich has been reprimanded, but she will not lose her job following an investigation into a $40,000 payment to cover luxury airfare for former Mayor Kasim Reed and several staffers who traveled to South Africa last year. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Thursday that Klementich will be stripped of her employment contract — and the protection of a golden...
Atlanta mayor’s campaign paid firm registered to election official

Atlanta mayor’s campaign paid firm registered to election official

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ campaign paid a consulting firm registered to a senior official in the Fulton County elections department during last year’s runoff election. According to records obtained by Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the campaign paid more than $3,600 to RJ Mays Consulting, whose registered agent is Ralph Jones Sr., registration chief...
New Atlanta city attorney Nina Hickson refused to withhold records

New Atlanta city attorney Nina Hickson refused to withhold records

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has appointed Nina Hickson to the city attorney position on Thursday, a move that further signals a shift in how City Hall handles public records requests. The appointment also comes during a Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry into possible criminal violations of the Georgia Open Records Act and amid meditations sparked by a civil complaint filed by the Atlanta...
Kasim Reed’s South Africa trip probe restarts after concerns about cost

Kasim Reed’s South Africa trip probe restarts after concerns about cost

The city of Atlanta could spend about $100,000 in legal fees to investigate a nonprofit’s $40,000 payment to cover luxury airfare for former Mayor Kasim Reed and several staffers who traveled to South Africa last year. Records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News show the city was billed nearly $60,000 for work performed from May 4 to May 16 by international...
Retired Air Force lieutenant colonel to head Atlanta procurement

Retired Air Force lieutenant colonel to head Atlanta procurement

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Thursday appointed retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David L. Wilson II to the position of chief procurement officer. The chief procurement officer oversees city contracting and purchasing. The city’s former procurement officer, Adam Smith, pleaded guilty in January to accepting at least $44,000 in bribes. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison, a reduced...
Atlanta’s legal bills related to corruption probe top $7.5M, AJC finds

Atlanta’s legal bills related to corruption probe top $7.5M, AJC finds

The city of Atlanta has spent at least $5.8 million over the past two years to pay an army of attorneys to respond to a federal corruption probe into former Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found. The spending is four times the amount that the AJC previously reported and began much earlier than Atlanta officials have acknowledged. The city...
Former Atlanta CFO repays $10K Paris hotel bill after AJC stories

Former Atlanta CFO repays $10K Paris hotel bill after AJC stories

The Shangri-La Hotel in Paris offers sweeping vistas of the Eiffel Tower and River Seine, along with authentic “old world elegance” from its history as the estate of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte. The hotel is a “princely residence” with its centerpiece a “grand staircase fit for royalty,” and rates that range from $1,223 to $4...
Atlanta mayor counters idea of state takeover of airport

Atlanta mayor counters idea of state takeover of airport

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is opposed to the idea of a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and said she has spoken with the state legislator behind the move. “I am trying not to be on the bad side of the state,” said Bottoms, in her first year as mayor, “but continuing to have very open dialogue with the state.” State. Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson)...
Bottoms’ budget reflects issues in campaign, early crises in office

Bottoms’ budget reflects issues in campaign, early crises in office

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ first budget addressed issues raised in her campaign last year and also the crises she faced during her first few months in office. There’s a $3.5 million to upgrade the city’s information technology systems, $1.6 million for pothole crews to fix the city’s pockmarked roads and an earmark of $100,000 in program resources to address the city&rsquo...
Invest Atlanta review of $40K spent on Reed South Africa trip stalls

Invest Atlanta review of $40K spent on Reed South Africa trip stalls

Two months ago, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered an outside review of a payment by a city-tied nonprofit to cover luxury airfare for former Mayor Kasim Reed and staffers who traveled to South Africa last year on a costly jobs mission. Now, people familiar with the matter have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News the probe has stalled, as city officials balked...
Kasim Reed’s repayments to Atlanta now top $50,000

Kasim Reed’s repayments to Atlanta now top $50,000

Since 2015, former Mayor Kasim Reed has used more than $50,000 from his personal and campaign bank accounts to repay taxpayers for charges he made on his city-issued credit card. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News recently obtained documentation of a previously unknown $15,631 check Reed wrote to the city from his campaign account in February 2015, repaying 13 charges made...
Meals, laundry and a Vegas fight: bodyguards used city cards for Reed

Meals, laundry and a Vegas fight: bodyguards used city cards for Reed

Members of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s police protection unit routinely used city-issued credit cards to pick up thousands of dollars in fast food and dry cleaning for the former mayor, despite clear policy forbidding any use of the cards for personal purchases. Reed reimbursed taxpayers for only a fraction of those expenses, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation...
Torpy at Large: Seeing through Reed’s ‘spirit of complete transparency’

Torpy at Large: Seeing through Reed’s ‘spirit of complete transparency’

Perhaps Hizzoner crossed his fingers when he stood amid 1.5 million pages of documents at City Hall last year and spoke about “a spirit of complete transparency.” Former Mayor Kasim Reed was trying to diminish the effects of an unfolding bribery scandal in February 2017 when he called a press conference. Reed is a lawyer, and good attorneys are adept at side-stepping the truth. By...
Atlanta bribery probe: When has the city received federal subpoenas?

Atlanta bribery probe: When has the city received federal subpoenas?

The city of Atlanta has received at least eight federal grand jury subpoenas in relation to the ongoing federal corruption probe of City Hall. The one on Sept. 9, 2016, is the only one not promptly released by the city within days or a few weeks of requests by the media.  July 16, 2018: A four-point subpoena demanded the city produce requests, approvals and payouts for any leave taken...
Failure to release subpoena may have broken Georgia records law

Failure to release subpoena may have broken Georgia records law

The Reed administration’s decision to withhold a grand jury subpoena last year may have violated Georgia’s open records laws, experts told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Sept. 9, 2016, subpoena, obtained last week by the AJC and Channel 2 Action News, should have been promptly released in response to an open records request in January of last year that sought all federal subpoenas...
Reed withheld subpoena aimed at airport in Atlanta bribery probe

Reed withheld subpoena aimed at airport in Atlanta bribery probe

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration last year withheld from the public a potentially explosive federal subpoena, concealing the full scope of the corruption investigation at City Hall, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have learned. The 10-point subpoena — dated Sept. 9, 2016, and kept from the public with Reed’s knowledge — included demands...
Torpy at Large: GOP cleanup man brings his mop to Atlanta City Hall

Torpy at Large: GOP cleanup man brings his mop to Atlanta City Hall

Attorney Robert Highsmith has long been the guy Republicans call when they’re in a pickle. A few years ago, I told him he reminded me of a character in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” the one who directed an emergency cleanup of a car after John Travolta’s hit man accidentally blew the head off a guy sitting in the back seat. “You mean The Wolf!” Highsmith squealed with...
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