Councilwoman Winslow Has Unpaid Liens, Faces New Ethics Charges
(APN) ATLANTA — Councilwoman Cleta Winslow (District 4), who is already under scrutiny for a recent arrest for Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) and previous ethics fines, has two liens that appear to remain unpaid–one related to City of Atlanta garbage pickup and one related to unpaid state income taxes; faces a new ethics investigation related to Winslow’s failure to disclose property that she owns; and, if that were not enough, owes fines for failure to file timely disclosure reports, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
As for the liens, Winslow has had a total of six liens since 2003, four of which have been paid, and two for which there is no record of payment, according to a review of records by APN on the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority website.
One of the unpaid liens, astonishingly, is from the City of Atlanta, Winslow’s employer, due to her failure to pay for Solid Waste disposal services in the amount of 473 dollars and 04 cents for her property at 384 Hopkins Street SW. This lien is dated October 16, 2012; and appears in Book 2453, Page 462.
The second unpaid lien is from the Georgia Department of Revenue, for unpaid income taxes, and related interest and fees, from tax year 2007. This lein is in the amount of 4,925 dollars and 14 cents; was filed on September 16, 2011; and appears in Book 2108, Page 588.
Winslow has also had three additional liens from the City of Atlanta that have since been paid: two from 2011 [one for the Hopkins Street property, and one for her primary property at 1123 Oglethorpe Avenue, SW], and one from 2012.
Another paid lien from 2003, from the State of Georgia and Fulton County, was filed in connection with the Oglethorpe Avenue property, and was satisfied in 2004.
As for the ethics investigation, City of Atlanta Ethics Officer Nina Hickson confirmed to APN in a telephone interview that her office is reviewing an ethics complaint filed against Winslow.
APN received a copy of the electronic filing of the complaint from an anonymous source.
The complaint charges Winslow with a violation of Atlanta City Code of Ordinances Section 2-814, Disclosure of income and financial interests.
“The councilwoman won property located at 384 Hopkins Street, Atlanta GA 30310. The property is a duplex that has been rented. This property is in addition to the one that she resides at which is located at 1123 Oglethorpe Avenue., Atlanta, GA 30310. The councilwoman has only mentioned the property in the 2011 disclosure (after being fined in 2010 for campaign ethics). According to the Fulton Records, the house was sold to Ms. Winslow on 4-21-1981,” the complaint alleges.
According to Fulton County Board of Assessors records, Winslow is indeed the owner of the property at 384 Hopkins Street, Atlanta, Georgia, 30310.
Winslow owes 125 dollars for a campaign contribution disclosure report that was due on June 30, 2012, but was filed on January 07, 2013. The fine is unpaid, according to the website for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
Winslow has also yet to file the Campaign Contribution Report that was due on March 31, 2013, according to the Commission’s website.
Previously, Winslow, the second-most senior member of the City Council of Atlanta, was arrested for DUI, reckless driving, and other offenses on May 07, 2013.
She was arrested at the corner of Peeple’s Street SW and Oglethorpe Avenue SW, after Atlanta police observed Winslow driving in the wrong lane, weaving on the roadway, and running both a red light and a stop sign, according to a copy of the police report, obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.
Winslow was arrested only a block and a half away from her home on Oglethorpe Avenue.
“Officer Witter stated that when he approached the driver, she seemed very distant/out of it and had a very slow reaction to his questions and commands,” the report stated.
“Officer Witter stated that she had glassy eyes and was squinting, also when he asked her to step from the vehicle she could not find the door handle to exit the car, in fact she was turning her car on and off in an attempt to exit the vehicle,” the report stated.
Winslow also had a bit of a Reese Witherspoon moment, reportedly telling the officer, “I should not play games with her,” according to the report.
Winslow said she was returning home from the Elliott Street Deli & Pub–which is located at 51 Elliott Street SW–and that she had consumed two dirty martinis.
According to the report, Winslow exhibited a difficult time understanding what was going on, standing up, or engaging in conversation with APD.
Prior to the incident, Winslow had been known to frequent a bar in Atlanta every Tuesday night, called Space, which is located on White Street SW, not far from Oglethorpe Avenue.
Winslow was known to drink wine every Tuesday night at Space from approximately 7pm to 11pm, one constituent previously told APN. Constituents wanting to discuss an issue with Winslow in person knew that they could find Winslow at Space.
This is not the first of ethical issues to plague Winslow. In 2006, she was warned for distributing a taxpayer funded newsletter at a campaign event. Then, in 2010, she was fined 1,500 dollars by the Ethics Office of the City of Atlanta in 2010 for using Council Office funds for campaign expenses.
On March 19, 2012, Winslow made comments during a Committee debate regarding legislation to give the Council a greater role in selecting the Ethics Officer, in which she expressed her disdain for the Office.
“I think a lot of us has felt as though, at least this is my feeling… we’ve been kind of looked down upon,” Winslow said.
“Not that you were being dictatorial, but I was feeling that as we’ve kind of gone along this path, even before you came before us, that the Board has treated us this way, that we’re over you, that we’re your overseer, and I just have to publicly say that, and that’s very disturbing to me. And I get that sense and I can’t shake it. I haven’t been able to shake it no matter who’s on the Board. And I really get that like, you know, hey, you’re under us, and it’s just not a good feeling, and I don’t get that with other Boards,” Winslow said.
“And it’s almost as though, I’ve got my thumb on all of you. And I don’t think anybody means to do that. I’m saying there’s a spirit there that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t think it has to do with any one person. I just think… they just feel that they’re over us,” Winslow said.
First elected in 1993, Winslow has been reelected four times, in 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2009.
Most recently, in 2009, she beat back several challengers including LaShawn Hoffman.
Winslow faces two challengers in this year’s Municipal Elections: Torry Lewis and Sister DeBorah Williams.
“I feel as though these growing ethics violations is a indication of a lack of judgment that is so dearly needed in our representative,” Lewis told APN.
“No one is a perfect person; however, we as a public put trust and faith in the elected offcials we select, to make sound judgments, and this is another indication that our elected leader has failed to do so,” Lewis said.
“I recently spoke to Ms. Winslow over coffee and I brought up the fact that the ethics violation came up, she felt she has done what she had to do, it’s paid for and it’s over. This is another indication, when you have someone in office for twenty years, they think that these violations of ethics are nothing, but in fact, it’s an indication of judgment,” he said.
Winslow did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.