Atlanta hires new lobbyist as issues at Capitol include proposed take-over of airport

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify positions in Atlanta’s agency that oversees governmental affairs.

By David Pendered

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has hired a new chief lobbyist for the city, who got her lobbying badge for the city on Wednesday as Atlanta prepares to deal with issues including a proposed state take-over of the management of the city’s airport.

Fatima Ladipo, edit

Fatima Ladipo

Fatimot Ladipo was named as Atlanta’s director of intergovernmental affairs. The mayor announced the appointment Thursday. Ladipo’s lobbyist badge was issued Wednesday by the state, state records show. She terminated her badge with her previous employer on Jan. 10.

Ladipo has a background in intergovernmental affairs. She worked most recently with AT&T, as regional director of external affairs in metro Atlanta. She’s handled governmental affairs for Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, the state entity that manages the lottery for education (Georgia Student Finance Commission), and as policy director for then Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, according to her resume on linkedin.com.

A statement from Kennesaw State described Ladipo’s experience in glowing terms when she joined the university in 2015. She served there 17 months, leaving to become a consultant for eight years, followed by her most recent position at AT&T, according to her linked.in resume.

“Fatimot ’s invaluable experience will be an asset in telling the University’s story to our partners both at the Gold Dome and the U.S. Capitol,” Charles Ross, KSU’s vice president for economic development and community engagement. said in a statement. “With Fatimot’s leadership, we are well positioned to leverage the growing reach we have as a comprehensive University for the state of Georgia and beyond.”

Ladipo said of her new position in the city’s statement:

  • “I am excited to join Mayor Bottom’s Executive Office and help advance her legislative agenda for One Atlanta.”

Lapido is moving into a newly created position in the Bottoms’ administration.

Meg Middleton retains her position as manager of inter-governmental affairs.

The proposed state take-over Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport seems like a distant prospect. The notion has been discussed for years, if not decades.

But of note, the prospect of a City of Sandy Springs had been an equally distant prospect for decades. That is, it was a distant prospect until Atlanta in 2005 abruptly withdrew its opposition to Sandy Springs’ incorporation. Atlanta had eyed the tax base of its northern neighboring area since the 1950s, but had held off in light of Sandy Springs opposition and the cost of serving the area.

The state Senate’s report called for a state take-over of the airport through an oversight body similar to the one that runs the Georgia World Congress Center.

In addition, the report’s section of findings and recommendations began with this blistering comment:

  • “As this Committee investigated the incidents and allegations of unethical behavior involving management of Hartsfield-Jackson, it was able to determine a define pattern and validity to these claims. This Committee found that these allegations rose above the level of mere speculation or rumors, and constituted actual and verifiable incidents of misconduct occurring under the management structure.
  • While these incidents are in no way new, they are far from ancient history and cannot simply be dismissed as mistakes of the past. This pattern of concluded convictions, leading up to current investigation, demonstrates an institutional flaw greater than the missteps of a sole administration. Through its investigation, this Committee found no evidence of reform are safeguards to lead it to believe this pattern of allowable corruption could not continue on indefinitely.”

Ladipo’s position was included in a dual announcement that lead with the hiring of William Hawthorne III as the city’s chief diversity officer. Hawthorne succeeds Rashad Taylor, who was named a senior advisor to the mayor.

“As part of our One Atlanta vision, I am committed to assembling a world-class workforce to deliver the best service to our city and residents,” Bottoms said in a statement. “I am excited that William Hawthorne and Fatimot Ladipo have joined our team and will bring their vast public and private sector expertise to our Administration.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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