Three more Atlanta department heads return controversial bonus checks


Three more high-ranking city of Atlanta officials have returned bonus checks handed out last year by former Mayor Kasim Reed.

The most recent group to return $10,000 end-of-year bonuses were Tim Keane, commissioner of planning and community development; Faye DiMassimo, general manager of Renew Atlanta; and Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, chief resilience officer.

They join three other city department heads, including Police Chief Erika Shields, who have returned bonuses in the amount of $10,000. In addition, an employee in Human Resources declined a $2,500 bonus check handed out by former HR Commissioner Yvonne Yancy, making the total amount returned to city taxpayers $62,500.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News reported last week that Reed handed out more than $518,000 in bonuses and gifts just before leaving office. That total includes $57,500 in bonuses that Yancy gave to her top staff members and nearly $70,000 in raffle and prizes during an “executive holiday party” in December.

The revelation sent shockwaves through City Hall, with City Council President Felicia Moore calling the payments illegal. The council asked the city’s internal auditor and chief ethics officer to perform a review of the payments. And Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office called the bonuses excessive, with the administration suggesting the hiring of an outside law firm to investigate the legality of the payments.

Keane informed his staff of his decision through an email: “I recognize this has been a topic in the media and at City Hall. Wanted you to know this from me.”

The AJC couldn’t reach DiMassimo or Benfield for comment.

Last week, Shields wrote an email to her command staff explaining her reasoning for returning the money.

“I firmly believe that any monetary accolades that I am afforded should only occur once the department has been taken care of, which means there are roughly 2,000 people before me,” Shields wrote. “I’m making you aware of this because we have much work ahead of us, and the people grinding it out every day need to know that you and I have not forgotten how difficult it is to police.”

The other employees who declined bonuses were: Jalal Slade, the city’s enterprise assets management officer, who received $10,000; Matthew Bartleet, deputy director of Atlanta Innovation Delivery, also awarded $10,000; and Deborah Ann Matthews, who received $2,500.



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