Watchdog - Chris Joyner

Candidates for top GA posts pledge sexual harassment reform

Candidates for top GA posts pledge sexual harassment reform

Candidates for the top posts in state government are promising changes following an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution into how sexual harassment complaints by state employees are handled.
State’s weak response to sexual harassment makes reporting risky

State’s weak response to sexual harassment makes reporting risky

Emboldened by #MeToo, a half dozen state emergency management employees came forward about a supervisor putting his hands on women who didn’t want to be touched, making locker-room jokes they didn’t want to hear. His punishment: A talking-to. No written reprimand. No disciplinary action.
Sex abuse allegations roil local youth hockey community

Sex abuse allegations roil local youth hockey community

National youth hockey officials are looking into allegations of sexual misconduct and the sudden suicide of a popular Gwinnett County coach. Parents of at least two players on the Atlanta Phoenix, a Duluth-based 16-and-under travel hockey team, reported to Gwinnett police Aug. 23 that their children had been sexually victimized by head coach Jason Greeson.
Georgia man gets six years for Charlottesville beating

Georgia man gets six years for Charlottesville beating

Georgia resident Alex Michael Ramos faces years in prison for his role in last year’s beating of a black man in Charlottesville, Va., in the chaos following the Unite the Right rally. Ramos, a 34-year-old resident of Jackson, Ga., was one of several white men caught on video beating DeAndre Harris in a parking garage Aug, 12, 2017.
Mum’s the word on how this Georgia government agency handles sex harassment cases

Mum’s the word on how this Georgia government agency handles sex harassment cases

In Georgia, state government departments and agencies are told they can handle sexual harassment claims in a way that fits their culture. But this freedom can result in outcomes that leave victims disillusioned. Too often that was the case at the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, an AJC examination found.
ONLY ON AJC: In #MeToo era, state employees wonder ‘what about me’

ONLY ON AJC: In #MeToo era, state employees wonder ‘what about me’

Her boss at the agricultural lab touched her lower back so much, she dreaded going to work. In the emergency management office, women were subjected to a supervisor’s repeated crude comments about sex, as well as shoulder rubs and his fingers in their hair.
AJC Watchdog: Why the state cut the mic on the Ga. gun control rally

AJC Watchdog: Why the state cut the mic on the Ga. gun control rally

Organizers of a massive gun-control rally outside of the State Capitol last week struggled to be heard. That’s because their sound system didn’t work — the electrical outlets at Liberty Plaza were dead. As more than 1,500 strained to hear speakers, longtime State Rep.
Booting bill gets unsympathetic hearing in House committee

Booting bill gets unsympathetic hearing in House committee

Car booters got a rough ride in a state House committee considering legislation  to legalize the practice. The industry wanted booting legalized throughout the state and charge a $85 fee. Instead, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee said booting could only be legal where jurisdictions explicitly allow it. And it set the maximum fee at $65.
Watchdog: if your car’s been booted in Georgia, read this

Watchdog: if your car’s been booted in Georgia, read this

Several months ago, I wrote about a legal effort to end booting as a parking enforcement practice in Georgia. Since then I’ve gotten a regular stream of complaints from metro area drivers who are enraged at booting companies and the businesses that hire them. I told many of them I would keep an eye out
Fayette 911 center controversy debated in marathon meeting

Fayette 911 center controversy debated in marathon meeting

Fayette County administrators are standing behind their embattled 911 director, Bernard “Buster” Brown following a 7-hour meeting Thursday where current 911 employees defended him against charges of harassment. Others, including former center employees, restated their complaints against Brown, signaling the controversy is not over yet.
Guns are legal in parks. So why did police ban them at Peach Drop?

Guns are legal in parks. So why did police ban them at Peach Drop?

Atlanta city officials had two concerns as they prepared for the first New Year’s Eve Peach Drop at Woodruff Park. First, it was going to be bone-chillingly cold. Second, the event was a soft target — an attractive venue for terrorists, foreign and domestic. As a result, officials told revelers to bundle up and abide by security restrictions.
Capitol scorecard: Ga. ethics reform five years later

Capitol scorecard: Ga. ethics reform five years later

Five years ago, state lawmakers convened in Atlanta and set about the task of ethics reform with the enthusiasm of teenagers told to clean their rooms. For years, lobbyists were allowed to give unlimited gifts of any value to public officials as long as they reported them.
Watchdog: New tax bill bad for Georgia’s film workers

Watchdog: New tax bill bad for Georgia’s film workers

Union officials are warning that the Republican tax overhaul rewards the rich while soaking the working class. Yeah, we’ve heard it before, but the union I’m talking about represents a fast-growing part of the state economy: the entertainment industry.
Tisdale’s camera pits free speech against property rights

Tisdale’s camera pits free speech against property rights

Citizen-journalist Nydia Tisdale is in the fight of her life. For most of this decade, Tisdale has been a fixture in Georgia’s civic life, largely a silent fixture. An open government purist, Tisdale attends public meetings, press conferences and various community event and points her video camera at them.
AJC Watchdog: Little sunlight on local campaign donations

AJC Watchdog: Little sunlight on local campaign donations

Four years ago, the Georgia General Assembly passed a little-noticed change in state law that has resulted in dramatically less sunlight on who is paying to elect candidates in local races. The legislation — House Bill 143 — said candidates for county or city offices no longer had to file their campaign contribution and financial disclosure forms with the state ethics commission....
Ga. Supreme Court ruling baffles open government advocates

Ga. Supreme Court ruling baffles open government advocates

When is a record of court not a “court record?” When the Georgia Supreme Court says so. In a recent decision, the justices ruled that the public has no right to access audio from inside the state’s courtrooms.
Watchdog: What do Georgia judges have to hide?

Watchdog: What do Georgia judges have to hide?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s podcast “Breakdown” is a good listen, but it’s more than just that. Just ask Justin Chapman. In its first season, “Breakdown” focused on the case of Chapman, a Bremen man serving a long sentence for killing his neighbor in an intentionally set fire.
Neighborhood fights proposed QuikTrip and asks, ‘Why here?’

Neighborhood fights proposed QuikTrip and asks, ‘Why here?’

If you travel down Jimmy Carter Boulevard near the I-85 interchange, a gas station isn’t hard to find. In fact, it’s a heavily traveled thoroughfare, complete with convenience stores, strip malls, banks and fast-food restaurants. And it’s jam-packed with Gwinnett County commuters making their way to Atlanta.
AJC readers speak: Booting cars in Georgia needs legislative solution

AJC readers speak: Booting cars in Georgia needs legislative solution

Sarah Saltzman drove to the Avalon shopping center in Alpharetta a few weeks ago to return a pair of shoes in one of the development’s many shops. She found a relatively close parking space, walked to the store and returned in short order to find a big, yellow boot on her tire and a note on her windshield with a number to call to have it removed.
AJC readers sound off about failure to keep accused killer locked up

AJC readers sound off about failure to keep accused killer locked up

I got an earful from readers who responded to last week’s column about Delvin Gates, the 17-year-old whose string of burglaries and other property crimes tormented neighbors in West End over the last several years. Gates now stands accused of murder in DeKalb County.
AJC Watchdog: Did the system fail murdered movie worker?

AJC Watchdog: Did the system fail murdered movie worker?

Last month, police arrested Delvin Gates, 17, and charged him with the murder of 50-year-old Joseph Livolsi, a special effects technician who worked on blockbuster movies filmed in Atlanta. Gates’ arrest raises some troubling questions, including why he wasn’t in jail to begin with.
Film worker’s alleged killer had a long record. Why wasn’t he behind bars?

Film worker’s alleged killer had a long record. Why wasn’t he behind bars?

Last month, Delvin Gates was charged with murder in the shooting death of Joseph Livolsi, a 50-year-old father of two who worked special effects for some of the blockbuster movies that film in metro Atlanta. Livolsi’s body was discovered July 15 in his apartment on Candler Road near I-20. An Xbox was missing.
Ga. waits on feds to improve lax nursing home rules after Fla. deaths

Ga. waits on feds to improve lax nursing home rules after Fla. deaths

Officials in Florida moved quickly to tighten regulations on nursing homes and assisted living facilities following the heat-related deaths of 11 senior citizens in the power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. But in Georgia, where regulations on emergency power generators in senior facilities are just as lax, officials are waiting for federal regulations to go into effect.
Feds surveying Irma damage, aid expected

Feds surveying Irma damage, aid expected

Tropical Storm Irma left cities and counties across Georgia with millions of dollars in damage and tons of debris to haul away. This looks like a job for the federal government.
AJC Watchdog: Keep a close eye on Irma disaster aid

AJC Watchdog: Keep a close eye on Irma disaster aid

Disasters assistance experts have fanned out across Georgia to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, the next step in freeing up millions of dollars in federal aid. Some of the heaviest damage is in Glynn County , where last week Irma flooded the streets of Brunswick and St. Simons Island, leaving a huge mess in its wake.
Gwinnett lab implicated in Tennessee ‘pill mill’ indictment

Gwinnett lab implicated in Tennessee ‘pill mill’ indictment

Federal prosecutors in Tennessee say a Gwinnett County drug testing lab paid bribes and kickbacks and filed fraudulent reimbursement requests to the state and federal government. But no one from Lawrenceville-based Confirmatrix Labs has been charged, despite a lingering federal interest in the urinalysis lab and its founder, Khalid Satary.
AJC Watchdog: Gwinnett urine lab implicated in bribery scandal

AJC Watchdog: Gwinnett urine lab implicated in bribery scandal

A federal indictment filed in Tennessee claims a Gwinnett County urinalysis lab paid bribes and filed fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement requests. The charges add to Lawrenceville-based Confirmatrix Labs’ increasingly shady reputation and that of its founder, a Palestinian foreign national with a criminal past.
AJC Watchdog: Alt-right spins tales of victimhood in Charlottesville

AJC Watchdog: Alt-right spins tales of victimhood in Charlottesville

Even as Michael Ramos turned himself in to police this week on charges that he maliciously beat Charlottesville, Va., resident DeAndre Harris, white supremacists are busy developing a counter attack: Harris was the assailant. Harris is the black man seen in online videos on the floor of a parking garage in the waning hours of the Aug.
Atlanta protest groups: Who is who?

Atlanta protest groups: Who is who?

We live in a time when the nation’s deep political divisions are played out in street protests that pit groups from the right and left against each other, sometimes with violent consequences. But even as groups are marching in the streets, a lot of the names are not familiar to average Georgians.
AJC Watchdog: Atlanta’s activists, from A to Z

AJC Watchdog: Atlanta’s activists, from A to Z

The news these days is filled with such a dizzying array of protests, movements and organizations, one might be forgiven for getting a little mixed up. Legacy civil rights groups like the NAACP are well known and an active part of current protests. And unfortunately some equally well-known hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan are still around. But there are a lot of new players in Atlanta.
Marietta man tied to violence against black man in Charlottesville

Marietta man tied to violence against black man in Charlottesville

A Marietta man boasted he “stomped some a**” during the violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., leading people across the nation to call for his arrest.  Photos taken during the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville appear to show Michael Ramos, 33, as part of a group of white men caught beating 20-year-old DeAndre Harris. “Nobody else was protecting us.
Marietta man linked to beating of DeAndre Harris in Charlottesville

Marietta man linked to beating of DeAndre Harris in Charlottesville

A Marietta resident with militia ties has been identified on social media as one of a group of men seen bloodying a counter-protester during Saturday’s racial violence in Charlottesville, Va. Michael Ramos, 33, is seen in videos online swinging at DeAndre Harris, a 20-year-old Charlottesville resident.
AJC Watchdog: Who are Trump’s ‘troublemakers’?

AJC Watchdog: Who are Trump’s ‘troublemakers’?

President Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday on his “many sides” take on Charlottesville, casting equal blame for violence associated with the racist “Unite The Right” rally on the neo-Nazi’s and “troublemakers” on the other side.
Watchdog: Is Georgia whistling ‘Dixie’ on sovereign immunity?

Watchdog: Is Georgia whistling ‘Dixie’ on sovereign immunity?

Earlier this summer, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a sweeping, unanimous opinion that the state is immune from lawsuits, a precedent that brought cries of tyranny from the left and right. The Georgia justices pinned their analysis to a centuries-old tradition in English law called “sovereign immunity” — a legal theory that the king (or, in our case, Gov.
Ga. judges crack down on smart phones in the courtroom

Ga. judges crack down on smart phones in the courtroom

A council of Georgia judges approved a new rule this week that may make what goes on in their courtroom less transparent to those outside. The rule, known as Rule 22, governs recording and broadcasting of trials and has generally been used by professional journalists looking to get permission for photographers or television cameras to record the proceedings.
Long a bastion of transparency, Ga. courts act to dim the lights

Long a bastion of transparency, Ga. courts act to dim the lights

No one is going to accuse judges of enthusiastically embracing modern society. They speak in Latin phrases and trace much of their behavior from the bench back centuries to English common law. Plus, who else wears robes to work? Yet daily they are forced to deal with Twitter. And Facebook. And Periscope.
Drug screening lab under federal investigation heads for auction

Drug screening lab under federal investigation heads for auction

A drug testing lab in Gwinnett County that had been in the center of a campaign donation bundling scandal is up for auction amid a federal investigation. Confirmatrix Laboratory in Lawrenceville was raided by the FBI last November.
Watchdog: Drug lab raided by feds made millions. Now it’s for sale.

Watchdog: Drug lab raided by feds made millions. Now it’s for sale.

In November, federal agents raided a Lawrenceville toxicology lab, serving warrants and taking away boxes of papers. Two days later, the lab filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Next month it heads for the auction block after years of Medicare reimbursements at one of the highest rates in the nation, according to one study.
Prisons profit by ‘gouging’ poor families for calls

Prisons profit by ‘gouging’ poor families for calls

Advocates for prison reform say a federal court decision last month on the costs of prison phone calls hurts poor families. “The felons aren’t the ones paying the bills. It’s the families,
Watchdog: Court decision penalizes inmate families

Watchdog: Court decision penalizes inmate families

A federal court’s decision last month to strike down caps on inmate phone call charges allows one of the more corrupt government programs to continue in Georgia and around the nation.
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