High hopes expressed for Atlanta’s task force to promote public trust

By David Pendered

Judging by the responses posted on social media, expectations are great that the Atlanta Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust will produce results that fulfill its name.

Brantley letter

Atlanta lawyer O.V. Brantley posted this letter confirming her appointment by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to Atlanta Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust. Credit: linkedin.com

Here are some of the public comments, and author descriptions, on linkedin.com, that followed announcements by members appointed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: Leah Ward Sears, retired Georgia Supreme Court chief justice; and O.V. Brantley, retired as county attorney for DeKalb County, and former county attorney for Fulton and former deputy city attorney for Atlanta.

On Sears’ page, announcing her appointment by Bottoms to serve on and chair the task force:

  • “This task force is so needed and you are so needed. Thank you for your continued service.” – Araba O. Dowell, president Seven Sages Global Marketing;
  • “Best of luck (and leverage) to you. Know you’re flying in the face of generations of alleged wrong-doing and suspicion. It’s another ‘swamp-thing,’ I fear!” – Jim Wanerski, Executive, Operational and Financial Leadership for Companies and Boards;
  • “Good luck.” – Dale Russell, senior investigative reporter Fox 5 Atlanta, WAGA-TV.

On Brantley’s page, announcing her nomination by Bottoms to serve on the task force:

  • “I couldn’t imagine anyone better to head up that task force.” – Keith Meadows, police chief, City of South Fulton and a former career Atlanta police officer;
  • “I know you are going to do more great things!” – Cathryn Horner, procurement manager, DeKalb County;
  • “You will be great, as always.” – Shaheem Williams, assistant county attorney, DeKalb County.

The task force is almost ready to start its work. With three exceptions, all members have now been appointed by the mayor, president of Atlanta City Council and the council.

Here’s the score card for filling the membership:

  • The council voted April 15 to expand the task force from 12 to 13 members. The additional member is to be appointed by the mayor and serve as a current or former state lawmaker. The legislation was filed by Councilmember Marci Collier Overstreet, who introduced the original resolution to create the task force.
  • One vacant position to be appointed by the council remains open. The council’s Finance Committee held the nomination of Marjorie Fine Knowles. The council on April 15 nominated Derek Alphran and he could be confirmed as soon as May 6.
  • One vacant position to be appointed by the council president remains vacant and the nominee, Mary Ann Gaunt, could be confirmed as early as May 6.
  • The task force chair will be Leah Ward Sears, as named by the mayor. The task force vice chair will be Donald Penovi, as named by council President Felicia Moore.
  • The position of task force facilitator has not been filled.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Bottoms’ administration outlined the scope and duties of the task force in prior statements. On Feb. 18, Bottoms is quoted:

  • “Strengthening public trust requires a shared responsibility from not only the executive and legislative arms of government, but the people of Atlanta as well. That is why I wanted to ensure that the Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust not only held public meetings, but included opportunity for public comment. Restoring and building full faith and confidence in City government will require buy-in from the very residents we were all elected to represent.”

On Feb. 4, a statement observes:

  • “’The City of Atlanta Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust will guide the City as we institute a rigorous system for accountability, strengthening public trust in government,’ Bottoms said.
  • “The Task Force is designed to create a collaborative effort to expand transparency in City government between the Executive and Legislative branches and will consist of ten members from the public and private sectors who are experienced in government, corporate ethics and/or compliance.
  • “The Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust will develop innovative strategies and implement solutions through policy reform to strengthen the City of Atlanta’s guidelines as it pertains to transparency, ethics, and compliance.”
atlanta city hall

Atlanta residents express high hopes that Atlanta’s task force to promote public trust fulfills its name. File/Credit: David Pendered

The mayor appointed the following members. The list did not require approval by the council, according to a ruling by the city’s Law Department:

  • O.V. Brantley
  • Dr. Robert Michael Franklin
  • Lawton Jordan
  • Leah Ward Sears
  • Joe Whitley

Council President Felicia Moore appointed the following members:

  • Donald Penovi
  • Mary Ann Gaunt (pending council confirmation)

The council nominated and confirmed the following members:

  • Derek Alphran (pending council confirmation)
  • Linda DiSantis
  • William Duffy
  • Michael Sterling
  • Paul Zucca

 

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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