Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took another critical step in leading Atlanta to becoming one of the most transparent cities in the country, introducing a legislative package to the City Council that would amend the City Code to create a new Transparency Officer, restrict usage of City-issued credits cards, and establishing procedures for the registration of persons engaged in lobbying the City of Atlanta.
“Restoring the public’s trust in their government has been my goal since taking office,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “These sweeping reforms and innovations are yet another step towards repairing and restoring he confidence in our city government.”
An overview of the proposed changes are as follows:
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 traditional methods.
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.
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 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. 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.
The new ordinance would become effective immediately upon their adoption by the Atlanta City Council and approval by the Mayor.
This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Tribune.