Atlanta City Hall, the target of a widening corruption probe, may soon be operating under new rules.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is proposing several reforms intended to increase transparency, including a requirement that lobbyists register with the city.
“The Administration introduced legislation to require people who are paid to lobby City Government to be registered with the Municipal Clerk and to disclose their clients, gifts, and political contributions,” a press release from the city says. “The legislation directs the Municipal Clerk to establish an online portal that will allow these disclosure and activity reports to be easily searchable and accessible to the public. Similar to the State of Georgia, lobbyists will be required to wear a badge that identifies them as a registered lobbyist.”
Other proposed reforms include:
– Creating a new Transparency Officer.
According to the city’s press release …
The Transparency Officer will be responsible for the City’s complete and thorough compliance with the Georgia Open Records Act (GORA).
Open Records Requests (ORR) will be submitted through a new website specifically designed to help manage ORR’s, alongside
Department heads and other designated officials will act as ORR custodians, reporting directly to the Transparency Officer. The Mayor and the City Council will also be able to designate ORR coordinators to work with the Transparency Officer and his/her staff.
Employee violations of the GORA would be subject to immediate disciplinary action, including and up to termination. In addition, if applicable, certain violations of the Transparency Codes could be referred for criminal prosecution. And any employee who properly reports violations of the GORA shall be protected by the Georgia Whistleblower Act.
Quarterly reports will be generated to help the public track the City’s overall compliance.
Mandatory training will also be provided to City employees to make sure they have the instructional tools needed to successfully process open records requests.
– Restricting city credit cards.
According to the city …
The newly introduced resolution authorizes the Chief Financial Officer to designate a Program Administrator to monitor credit card purchases and ensure compliance.
Strict limitations on credit card issuance and usage will be set. No personal purchases will be authorized. Cardholder statements will be posted online each month and misuse of any City-issued credit card may result in disciplinary action, including and up to employment termination.
The changes would take effect once they are approved by the City Council and signed by the mayor.