DeKalb County Government “Rotten to the Core,” Investigators Claim
(APN) ATLANTA — Special Investigators Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde issued a letter to Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May on today, August 05, 2015, outlining serious concerns about DeKalb County Government.
“This correspondence is to give you and the Commission members a brief update of our investigative findings thus far. What we have found is stunning,” the letter said.
“We are not identifying those who may be guilty of crimes or other misconduct until we publish the final report. You will recall that you were told from the onset that this inquiry would take both a lot of time and a lot of money,” the letter states.
“But the amount of money this has, and will, cost is minimal compared to what widespread government corruption has cost DeKalb County and our state, in terms of standing, reputation and image,” the letter states.
“The DeKalb County government we have found is rotten to the core. The misconduct starts at the top and has infected nearly every department we have looked at. We have conducted scores of interviews and looked at several hundred thousand documents, including over 40-thousand individual P-card transactions. Those expenses range from petty to the absurd,” the letter states.
“While most folks have been helpful, some department heads have flatly ignored requests from you and your office to provide full documentation with regard to P-card records, including the transaction logs that are required to be kept at each work site,” the letter states.
“They have also ignored Open Records Act requests we have filed and today are in violation of state law. We must have all of these records to continue our investigation into how the Finance Department has processed and paid for various purchases,” the letter states.
“The extent of P-card abuse and misuse is astounding. Before we give you a few examples… let us first tell you why many of these taxpayer-funded purchases are illegal. Article 3, Section 6, Paragraph 6, of our state constitution says, in what is known as the ‘gratuities clause,’ that the government shall not have the power to grant any donation or gratuity. Absent explicit legal authority, no government in Georgia can legally give things away. This prohibition includes gifts made to charities or non-profit organization,” the letter states.
“The main question that must be answered with regard to any spending by county officers is: ‘what is the benefit to the county?’ If there is no articulable, specific and reasonable benefit to the county, then the expenditure is likely illegal and in violation of our state constitution,” the letter states.
Improper expenditures have included: a cruise to the Bahamas for an employee; flower arrangements; a live guitar player; a Christmas tree; and a dry cleaning bill for a judge’s robe.
“Taxpayer funds were routinely used to buy liquor, catered meals, candy, popcorn, and pretzels filled with peanut butter for elected officials, department heads, and staff members. The County’s own internal auditors have reported this improper spending over the years. Yet the abuse has continued,” the letter states.
Several “departments over the past five years have regularly overspent their budgets and no action has been taken to correct this illegal conduct,” they state.
“The county awarded sole-source contracts despite there being many other qualified vendors available to perform the same work, at a much lower cost to the county,” they state.
“A high-level official wrecked a county-owned vehicle, causing substantial damage, and then failed to follow proper procedures for reporting the accident,” they state.
“Taxpayers paid the impound fee to recover another county-owned vehicle after the employee was arrested for DUI. That man resigned rather than face disciplinary action. Remarkably, the employee was rehired within days of entering a guilty plea in court, with no apparent disciplinary action taken. Taxpayers have also paid for traffic fines and toll road penalties,” they state.
“The take-home vehicle policy is routinely violated, with some folks getting a free ride to and from work each day. And we have no idea just how many employees get a county-owned car and gas for commuting,” the letter states.
“Thefts of county property have been covered-up and mishandled. In one case the police were not notified and the thief still draws a paycheck from the county,” the letter states.
“And just in the last few days, we have found what appears to be a bribery scheme involving a major county department,” the letter states.
“While we have reduced the number of county departments we are investigating at your request, we still have a good way to go before completion. Please let us know if you have any questions,” the letter states.
Interim CEO May expressed some displeasure with the letter and is calling for the investigation to come to a close.
“I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion that DeKalb County is rotten to the core. The overwhelming majority of DeKalb County employees are honest, decent, hard-working, and committed to public service,” May said in a statement.
“We were aware of the underlying issues mentioned in Mr. Bowers’ letter. That is why we hired him to conduct a comprehensive review of county government operations to identify corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or abuse; with a report in 120 days,” May said.
“The 120 days has come and gone, and it appears the only thing we have to show for it is a 2-page letter full of salacious – but vague – innuendo,” May said.
“I was informed by Mr. Bowers today that a detailed report will be issued in 3 weeks that will provide me with a road map to reduce our risk exposure to waste, fraud and abuse.”
Wait a minute. So Lee Mays asks for a thorough investigation but since he doesn’t like the results, he calling foul and wants it to stop?? Either he’s pulling a publicity stunt or he’s regretting the can of worms he just unleashed. Perplexing and interesting indeed.
Mr. May is one of those persons who used his position and office to have the county “fix” problems at several months ago when a main line broke and sewage flooded his home. He was given preferential treatment, ahead of everyone else, at low to no cost.
Expecting Interim CEO Lee May to use the Bowers report as a “road map” to fix the corruption etc., is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop!
The blaggards need to be rounded up, charged and if convicted thrown in jail for a very long time! Tax payers in DeKalb County, like myself, want the house cleaned of this vermin! And it cannot be done soon enough!
These accusations, though very close to criminal are not unusual. This stuff goes on all over the country. This is what happens when whistle-blowers are prosecuted and ridiculed of the most basic observations. Good luck on getting any of those folks out of a job. Good post though. Looking forward for the names, all the names to fall out of this one.
Elections have consequences – Know the issues & think before you vote. Perhaps there was so much corruption and lack of cooperation more than 120 days was need, I trust Mr. Bowers.
At the risk of being a master of the obvious, who elects a CEO and how many counties have Dunn & Bradstreet numbers for the DEKALB, COUNTY OF with headquarters at 1300 Commerce Dr with 13 branch offices. For that matte, who runs all the various corporations affiliated yet independent of the headquarter drawing, or should I say, siphoning off huge chunks of tax payer dollars. Who is willing to venture into all the corporations both public and private that are the beneficiaries of millions in grant and award monies that conveniently never make it into the county’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Those of us that do look at such things marvel at the magnitude of corruption involved and the way Dekalb is involved with using these pass through companies to shift money into offshore accounts. For safe keeping of course.
The reality is that the people you think you elect are less than puppets. They are the useless knuckle dragging mouth breathers who are utterly incompetent to manage there own affairs, not to mention a multi billion dollar cash cow. The bureaucrats run it all and control the lives of those who live within its boundaries. If the people ever got wind of the real “Biggest Game in Town” there would be a revolution.
Then again, with the help of the AJC, this leviathan is is safe and snug as a bug in a rug. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good metaphor. Another round of millage increases will silence you though because you’ll be too busy buying them those all expense paid trips to hither tither and yon to pay attention to the laughing jackals as they board their next plane.
Who ever said slavery was dead. lol
While you’re doing a total investigation, check out the City of East Point Ga. Your findings sound so familiar. This is one corrupt city. Check it out, you might find something even worse than DeKalb County.
Mr. May’s response is more stunning than Mr. Bowers’ findings. The distrust and outrage bred by this persistent incompetence and corruption at the county level is one of the main forces driving the ongoing Balkanization of our region into mini-cities, a development which will prove highly detrimental in the long run. Mr. May’s weak response provides little reason for confidence in any end to current trends.
I am shocked that DeKalb County government is corrupt! Who could have known?
I suppose the next revelation will be that the DeKalb County Schools, the City of Atlanta, Clayton County and Fulton County are corrupt.
Shocked, I tell you.
On a less tongue-in-cheek note, it is farce that Lee May thinks taxpayers will believe he will protect them from corruption. It ranks alongside Hillary Clinton’s statements that she will protect taxpayers from the depredations of the evil top 1%, of which she and Bill are members. She will protect taxpayers from herself.
Enter the terms you wish to search for. WABE has obtained a copy of a letter sent to DeKalb County’s Interim CEO Lee May, sent by the special corruption investigators he appointed, which says “The DeKalb County government we have found is rotten to t 471b he core.