‘Culture of corruption’: Local mayor calls for investigation into city officials

·2 min read

A local mayor is calling on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the city council.

South Fulton Mayor Khalid Kamau told Channel 2′s Tom Jones that there is a culture of corruption and it’s driving employees away.

Some on the council say he should take a good look in the mirror, especially after allegations he may have misused city-issued credit cards.

Kamau said that issue is minor compared to other problems in the city.

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“I came into this office thinking our city council needed a full-time psychologist,” Kamau said.

During a news conference Monday, Kamau read from an exit interview where a department head was asked what does their new job offer that the city did not.

“The answer was only three words: peace of mind,” Kamau said.

The mayor said workers are being bullied and there is corruption.

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The mayor wants the GBI to look into an incident where he said an officer in the narcotics unit mishandled confiscated funds and had a relationship with a subordinate.

“After she confessed to all of these things, she was not fired. She was placed on administrative leave and allowed to resign,” Kamau said.

South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows told Jones there is an investigation and he is confident it will bear all the facts.

The mayor said the city attorney isn’t acting in the best interest of citizens, so he said he has to go.

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“I am firing our city attorney,” Kamau said.

South Fulton City Councilman Jaceey Sebastian said the mayor doesn’t have the power to fire the city attorney.

The mayor said the buck stops with him.

“The end of this culture of corruption will also stop with me,” Kamau said.

The mayor said he will ask a superior court judge not to allow the council to rehire the city attorney until the legal question is answered whether he has to power to fire that person.

Sebastian said the entire council hasn’t seen the full report on the allegations and once it does, it will decide how to proceed.

So many people contacted Jones saying this back and forth between the council is petty and it’s not good for the county.

The city of South Fulton City Council released a lengthy statement Monday night to dispute Kamau’s allegations, saying:

“All assertions made by the mayor as a so-called whistleblower already were under investigation. All findings will be subject to the open records act when those investigations are complete. In addition, city code requires elected officials – when not designated as an official spokesperson but seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights regarding city related policy or position – to ensure the public knows that such assertions are their own opinions and are not official policy. This would apply to any conclusions reached regarding the results or outcome of any investigation.

Police corruption

“There is no evidence of any corruption within the police department. As more officers voiced concern about a particular supervisor, the city manager asked the Smyrna Police Department to investigate the claims as an outside, independent entity. The police chief agreed to this process and council members were aware of the investigation, which eventually found evidence of inappropriate behavior that violated department policy. The supervisor in question resigned in lieu of termination and the process of notifying the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council was followed, contrary to the mayor’s allegation that it wasn’t.

Bullying

“A complaint by a city employee at the director’s level that a council member and the police chief tried to intimidate her and influence her actions in the police investigation is itself under investigation. As such, the city cannot comment on this situation beyond saying that it will be looked at thoroughly and any appropriate action, if necessary, will be taken. The mayor’s premature release of documents related to this matter is troublesome and has the potential to taint or adversely affect the independent investigation and its outcome.

City overcharging for public records

“State law sets forth a standardize process for requesting and providing public records – including varying time frames – and standards regarding what fees can be charged. Governments can recoup resources costs, including employee time, related to the provision of these records. The size and scope of the requests greatly determine the final cost. Qualified personnel must read through each record and, where appropriate, redact private information that is exempt from disclosure according to state law. For larger requests, this can take a considerable amount of time. Charges must be based on the cost of the lowest-possible employee grade that can complete the task. In one case, a resident filed a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, alleging the city was charging too much and taking too long to answer his request. The attorney general sent notice of the complaint, not to assess guilt, but simply to allow the city to answer. The city attorney will meet the deadline for that response.

Mayor firing the city attorney

“Although the mayor has alleged that he has good cause to fire the city attorney, the mayor has absolutely no power to fire a city employee under the city charter, including the city attorney. The council – with a supermajority vote – can terminate the employment of the city manager, the city clerk and the city attorney. Only the city manager can terminate or approve the termination of a member of city staff. The city council maintains its support and confidence in the City attorney who remains employed and on the job.”

Statement on behalf of South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows:

“Chief Keith Meadows is a seasoned professional, respected by his peers and the community Nationwide. Mr. Kamau is yet again casting spurious allegations that he knows to be blatantly false.  His consistent and constant disdain for truth and honesty will continue to cost him his credibility, if not also his freedom soon. We look forward to government officials acting swiftly and just.  In the interim, we shall ensure that the good name of Chief Meadows remains protected and in tact.”

Statement on behalf of South Fulton City Councilwoman Helen Willis:

“Councilwoman Helen Willis is the consummate professional, respected by her peers, and lauded by her constituency for her immeasurable and unending commitment to the City of South Fulton. Mr. Kamau’s latest unprovoked attack on her is consistent with his demeanor of voided leadership. The City of South Fulton deserves so much more than a person who will create and molest matters in an attempt to create issues where there simply is none.  Yet here we find him again doing what he does best-- attacking a woman as she grieves the passing of her Mother, knowing that there is absolutely nothing she has done which is wrong, or in any way improper. It is simply an unprovoked attack. However, this time, it will not go unanswered. This time, Mr. Kamau will have to account for his behavior.”

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