Ceasar Mitchell: City Hall corruption scandal is ‘distressing; and ‘serious’

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell Wednesday afternoon issued a sharply-worded statement on the corruption case at City Hall in light of Tuesday’s indictment of Adam Smith, the city’s former chief procurement officer.

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, pictured in his City Hall office on Thursday, is defending his proposal for a moratorium on contracts that begin service in 2018, against heated criticism from Mayor Kasim Reed. Reed has called the idea a "donor protection bill" in Mitchell's bid for mayor.

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, pictured in his City Hall office defending his proposal for a moratorium on contracts that begin service in 2018 against heated criticism from Mayor Kasim Reed. (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Mitchell, who is running for mayor, has been spotlighting this issue of city contracts for the past several weeks, raising the ire of current Mayor Kasim Reed.

Here is Mitchell’s statement in full:

The indictment of the former Chief Procurement Officer for bribery in the ongoing federal investigation into City Hall is very distressing and serious.  This is one of the biggest corruption scandals in our city’s history with no end in sight.  Indeed, it appears there is a culture of corruption.  In order to prevent a crisis in our government, the City Council must take the lead on reforming the procurement process and restoring trust and transparency in city government.

I am reaffirming my proposal to put a moratorium on all non-emergency city contracts that do not expire until next year, especially the multi-year, billion dollar airport concessions contracts that do not expire until well over a year from now, which is long after this Administration and this City Council leave office.

Additionally, we must also take the following actions:

1.  The Council and Administration need to conduct a full-scale independent audit of the procurement process and act with urgency on its findings.

2.  The Council and Administration must pass legislation to require all procurements and contracts be online for the public to view.

While the city’s procurement process is not within my purview as Council President, I am committed to doing my part to begin a new chapter in City Hall. I urge anyone – city employees or citizens – with information regarding corruption to notify the proper legal authorities immediately.  I also urge the Administration to cooperate fully with federal investigators and be as transparent as possible with the public and the press.

As Mayor, I will strengthen our ethics code and bring greater transparency to City Hall. I will set the example.  There will be no room in my Administration for any illegal or unethical conduct.  Even the appearance of unethical conduct will not be tolerated.

I am determined to take any steps necessary to restore trust and transparency.  And to have a government that is as good as its people.  That is my pledge to the people of Atlanta.

Ceasar Mitchell

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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