Atlanta’s Public Trust Task Force’s First Meeting An Introduction to Daunting Ethics and Transparency Tasks Ahead

A task force designed to evaluate Atlanta city government ethics and transparency issues met for the first time Tuesday. The Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust discussed its responsibilities and goals, as well as the city’s ethics, transparency, and compliance structures.

Members of the task force include former prosecutors, members of academia, Atlanta residents, former judges and local government attorneys. The mayor selected six task force members, the council five. Two additional members were appointed by Moore.

The 13-member task force, chaired by the retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia Leah Ward Sears, has the daunting task of assessing the city’s current ethics and transparency guidelines in four meetings and must make recommendations by Sept. 10. The task force will automatically disband 30 days after presenting its recommendations.

How the task force will go about evaluating the city’s ethics and transparency efforts was not firmly decided by the close of the meeting. Sears said she plans for those details to be resolved between now and the next meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 18, July 30 and Aug. 20.

Members of the public trust task force:

Keisha Lance Bottoms’ appointments: 

Joe D. Whitley, former acting associate attorney general under the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. He previously served as U.S. Attorney in the Middle and Northern Districts of Georgia.

Robert Michael Franklin Jr., the 10th president of Morehouse College and now president emeritus of the school. Franklin also serves as James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University.

O.V. Brantley, former deputy city attorney for the city of Atlanta. Brantley previously served as chief legal officer for DeKalb County and former in-house counsel in Fulton County.

Lawton Jordan, an Atlanta resident with a legal and government background. He previously served three years on the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly known as the Ethics Commission) under former Gov. Nathan Deal.

Leah Ward Searsformer chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia from 2005 to 2009. Before then, Sears served as presiding justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. She was previously a Superior Court judge in Fulton County, the first woman to serve on that court.

Joe Wilkinson, former Georgia House representative. He chaired the House Ethics Committee and served on the Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, and Insurance committees.

Atlanta City Council appointments: 

William S. Duffey Jr., former judge in the U.S. Northern District of Georgia. Duffey was a U.S. Attorney in Atlanta before serving 14 years on the federal bench. He retired last year.

Michael T. Sterling Sr., an attorney at Dreyer Sterling and a previous candidate for mayor. He helped establish the city’s first Office of Entertainment to support the growing film industry.

Linda K. DiSantis, former Atlanta city attorney under Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Paul Zucca, a Grant Park resident with a legal background. Zucca serves as executive vice president of operations at Del Mar Enterprises Inc.

Derek M. Alphran, former Atlanta city attorney under the Maynard H. Jackson administration.

Council President Felicia Moore’s appointments: 

Mary Anne Gaunt, a former member of Atlanta’s Ethics Board and served a two-year term as vice chair. Gaunt previously served as associate director of the Principals Center at Georgia State University.

Donald Penovi, a businessman with expertise in finance, compliance and risk management. Penovi served as chair or vice chair of the city of Atlanta’s Audit Committee from 2007 to 2015.



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