Attacks Begin in Post 3 Willis/Dickens Council Race

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(APN) ATLANTA — The attacks have begun to fly in the Post 3-at-large race, where embattled incumbent Lamar Willis is facing a challenge from newcomer Andre Dickens.


 

Willis is one of the least progressive members of the Atlanta City Council, with a score of 36.84 out of 100 on the APN City Council Scorecard.  Willis has a history of verbally attacking citizens and city workers, and an extensive history of ethical violations, including a disbarment recommendation pending before the Supreme Court of Georgia.

 

On Sunday, an anonymous robocall went out across Atlanta attacking former Mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin for endorsing candidates in the 2013 Municipal elections for City Council and Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education (APS BOE).

 

Franklin has endorsed Dickens; as well as Eshe Collins, who is running for the BOE District 6 seat; and Matt Westmoreland, who is running for the District 3 seat.  However, Dickens believes the ad was primarily directed at him.

 

“Shame on Shirley.  [inaudible] Franklin raised our property taxes.  Shirley Franklin raised our water rates.  She even supported Beverly Hall and those involved in the APS cheating scandal.  Now Shirley Franklin wants to decide who should serve on the Board of Education and the Atlanta City Council.  Shame on Shirley,” the robocall states.

 

Cabral Franklin, campaign manager for Dickens, sent out an email today, entitled, “They should be nervous,” that includes a link to an audio clip of the robocall.  Franklin wrote that the robocall was targeting Dickens’s campaign.

 

In his email, Franklin revealed a new website that will expose Councilman Willis’s numerous ethical misdeeds.

 

Dickens tells Atlanta Progressive News that he did not want to attack Willis this early in the campaign–although the day of the election is only seven weeks away–but that “he started it,” referring to Willis.

 

There is no evidence that Willis was behind the robocall; however, Dickens believes that Willis was behind it.

 

A new website unveiled by the Dickens campaign, LamarWillisShakedowns.com, outlines “the various nefarious acts and shakedowns of Lamar Willis.”

 

“Lamar Willis started a charity that was nothing more than a website and a bank account.  He moved funds freely between his personal, business and campaign accounts without ever accounting for it,” the website states.

 

“Willis set up the H. Lamar Willis Foundation, which was never granted tax exempt status by the IRS, even though Willis advertised it as tax exempt.  He used this charity for five years to solicit

charitable funds from prohibited vendors with business before the Council and his transportation committee,” the website states.

 

“Willis’ foundation was never registered with the state as a charitable organization, it doesn’t even appear to have been incorporated until after he was caught,” the website states.

 

“When his fraud was exposed by a newspaper investigation, the Secretary of State followed suit.  Its own investigation revealed that Willis moved money freely between his foundation’s account, his personal account, and his campaign account, and that he was the sole owner of all three accounts.  He also withdrew charitable funds from the foundation account with no accounting for their use for charitable purposes,” the website states.

 

This is only one of many ethical issues that could be raised in connection with Mr. Willis.

 

Dickens says there are enough ethical issues involving Willis that the campaign could release a new issue every three days from now until election day.

 

“Every day we are uncovering more and more of the real truth about Lamar Willis.  His long history of lies, shakedowns, shady deals and mismanagement will be posted here as we uncover more.  Lamar Willis can run for re-election, but he can’t run from the truth,” the website states.

APN has also learned from several sources about a citywide poll from a couple weeks ago that appears to have been a push poll organized by Mayor Kasim Reed on behalf of his nod squad members, Aaron Watson (Post 2-at-large) and Willis.

 

Watson is being challenged by former Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who is running for her old seat.

 

The poll asked all callers some questions, but only asked certain callers certain questions, depending on how they answered other questions, suggesting a push poll.

 

For example, all callers appear to have been asked whether they care about certain issues such as crime, green space, and transportation.  All callers were asked whether they support Dickens, Norwood, Watson, or Willis.

 

If they said they were not sure whether they supported Watson or Norwood, the callers were asked how Kasim Reed’s support for Watson would affect their decision.

 

However, if they said they supported either Watson or Norwood, they were not asked that question.

 

If they said they supported Dickens, they were asked how former Mayor Franklin’s support for Dickens would affect their decision.

 

This poll appears to have been trying to determine whether attacking Shirley Franklin as a proxy for Dickens would weaken public support for Dickens.

 

In addition, the poll appears to have been trying to determine how much support from Reed could help Willis.

 

The poll also seemed interested in political party affiliation.  It asked voters whether in the last Gubernatorial Election they voted for former Gov. Roy Barnes, the Democratic nominee; or former US Rep. Nathan Deal, the Republican nominee.

 

(END/2013)

 

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