Paul Moore Ethics Scandal Continues to Plague the City of Milton . . . Death Knell for Free Speech and Ethics in Milton?

Today, despite the City of Milton’s efforts to contain the crisis, the Paul Moore Ethic Scandal has once again reared its ugly head. The AJC published an article about Mr. Moore’s current lawsuit to reverse the findings of Milton’s ethics panel. Following is a link to the article. I am also attaching a PDF of the article.

Ethics is foundational to good government. Since 2016, to no avail, I have been warning Milton’s City government that Milton’s ethics policies and practices do not foster ethical behavior, but instead perversely incentivize misconduct by government officials. Milton’s ethics ordinance is the most citizen-unfriendly ethics ordinance in North Fulton County. I have spoken at council about ethics and published two blog posts that explained how Milton’s ethics ordinance fosters misconduct and dissuades legitimate ethics complaints from being brought forward. A few times, I have also notified the City Manager of clear ethical breaches that he chose to ignore.

So it is no surprise that with the Paul Moore ethics scandal, Milton is reaping what it has sown. The damage to the City is real and mounting. The damage is not just bad publicity, but also mounting legal costs (your tax dollars) for the City and a huge diversion of time and resources from important issues facing the City. The blame falls squarely on Mr. Moore, City Manager Krokoff, and City Council.

There are a few interesting aspects to the AJC article.

First, Paul Moore is now playing the victim. He claims that the his ethics conviction is doing him personal and professional “damage.” And this is perhaps true. However, this damage to Mr Moore is entirely self-inflicted. Paul Moore clearly had an inkling that he was treading on ethical thin ice when he waded into his HOA’s speeding issue. His doubts about the ethics of his participation prompted Mr. Moore to seek advice before the first White Columns hearing at City Council. Unfortunately, Mr. Moore sought advice from someone–the City Manager–who lacks expertise about conflict of interest and who himself is conflicted and admitted (at the White Columns hearing on traffic calming devices) that he might be “conflicted.” Furthermore, Paul Moore made the decision to drag his employer into this ethics matter by referencing his company in his court pleading, so that if a reader now searches on the names of Paul Moore’s employer and “Paul Moore,” the ethics case appears in the search results. (I have read Mr. Moore’s most recent affidavit in this matter and have to question his professional judgment in discussing sensitive company issues in his affidavit.) I believe Mr. Moore’s desperate appeal for sympathy is indicative of the weakness of his legal arguments in this matter.

If there is a victim here, it is Mr. Palazzo, president of the White Columns HOA. I am sure Mr. Palazzo never in his worst nightmares imagined that a routine matter of traffic calming devices (TCD), supported by 64% of White Columns residents, would be handled by the City in such a manner. In fact, this was a perfunctory matter that should have followed precedent and been consigned to a consent agenda, with no discussion or debate at Council. Rather, the TCD matter was moved to the regular agenda, but even so should have been handled as a routine matter . . . the only issue that should have been considered was the HOA’s cost and data sharing agreement with the City. Instead, indulged by his fellow council members, Mr. Moore derailed the May 2, 2022 City Council hearing and pursued a personal agenda against his HOA board that resulted in his motion (approved by Council) to erect further hurdles to approval of a routine data/cost-sharing agreement . . . hurdles that were easily cleared by the White Columns HOA board. Mr. Palazzo was clearly blindsided by Mr. Moore’s unmerciful and bullying beat-down at council. So it is ironic and hypocritical that Mr. Moore is now claiming to be the victim. The current ethics debacle is actually a David-vs.-Goliath struggle. Council and the city administration have clearly and consistently lined up behind Mr. Moore. Mr. Moore is on the inside, with all the advantages that provides. Conversely, Mr. Palazzo is on the outside looking in and is decidedly disadvantaged. Despite the City administration and City Council’s transparent efforts to defeat Mr. Palazzo (including turning its back on its own ethics panel) so far Mr. Palazzo has prevailed in his quest for justice and fairness. David is once again beating Goliath. This should cheer the hearts of average hard-working, tax-paying citizens to see politicians getting their deserved comeuppance.

A second interesting element of this sad saga is the City’s position on Mr. Moore’s lawsuit. Mr. Jarrard, the City Attorney, is quoted as stating “We are just bystanders.” However, this is not true. In its pleading to Superior Court, the City actually states (on behalf of itself and the ethics panel) that City and the panel “pray” for dismissal of Mr. Moore’s lawsuit and recovery of City’s associated legal fees. Following is a screenshot of the City’s response to Mr. Moore’s lawsuit:

Granted the City’s response is incredibly LAME, so for all intents and purposes, the City is a “bystander.” However, the City is a bystander by choice. Through its bland pleading, the City has turned its back on its own ethics process and its own ethics panel . . . and by extension, turned its back on ethics, good governance, and citizens. Milton’s ethics panel deserves a much stronger defense from the city.

In closing, below is a copy-and-paste of the byline from the AJC article. It is the perfect byline in that it captures the biggest danger that lurks in this ethics scandal. If Paul Moore prevails in his lawsuit to overturn the ethics panel’s decision of guilt, ethics as a guiding principle of good governance in Milton is DEAD. Citizens can expect the Wild West when it comes to misconduct in Milton’s government. Mr. Palazzo is an extreme rarity in Milton . . . a citizen with the means (he is spending tens of thousands of dollars), the courage, and tenacity to expose and challenge self-dealing and favors for friends & family that has become all too prevalent in Milton. If Mr. Palazzo loses in his quest for justice, Miltonites will be the true losers. Citizens will be (even more) afraid to speak against elected officials. Our fundamental right to free speech will be further attenuated. AJC byline:

(Don’t forget, I provide additional information at my Bits and Pieces page that is not emailed to my subscribers:

Advocating for High Ethical Standards in Milton’s Government,


Note: I am not including the name of Mr. Moore’s employer as naming his employer does not comport with my rules of engagement. Furthermore, I will not (at this time) discuss sensitive issues about Mr. Moore’s company that Mr. Moore incomprehensibly and recklessly raises in his pleadings. Mr. Moore is doing enough damage to himself with his pleadings; he needs no further help from anyone else. Mr. Moore is his own worst enemy. He never learned the lesson that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stopping digging. Mr. Moore is on a path to seal his fate through his pleadings. I believe Mr. Moore will be soundly defeated in Superior Court; the ethics case seems open-and-shut to me. If Mr. Moore had been smart, once the ethics charges were levied against him, he would have sought accommodation with Mr. Palazzo. He did not seek rapprochement, but rather has consistently doubled down on a losing and increasingly incoherent and desperate strategy. Although Mr. Moore blames many people, including me, for his demise, Mr. Moore has only himself to blame.

I am interested in hearing from Mr. Moore on this matter. I am open to providing him an opportunity to plead his case at this forum, but I suspect Mr. Moore will not take me up on my offer.

City to Craft Plan For Greenspace . . . Just More Kicking the Can Down the Road?

On February 21st (Wednesday) City Council will consider a plan to craft a comprehensive strategy for Milton’s 400+ acres of greenspace.  When I read about this, all manner of alarm bells began sounding and warning lights began blinking. 

To begin this post, I am going to make a prediction:

The 89-acre property at the corner of Bethany Road and Providence Road will never be opened to the public or else will be given the lowest priority (i.e., it will be many years before it is opened to the public).

I hope I am wrong in making this prediction or perhaps through my warnings, I can influence City Council’s decision-making in favor of Milton’s citizens . . . but don’t hold your breath.

So that brings us to the question of why I am particularly skeptical/suspicious about this specific property?  What is underlying my prediction?  Answer:  The property at Bethany and Providence borders Council Member Carol Cookerly’s estate.  I find it odd that this property has not been already opened to the public.  I say this because it was purchased over 3 ½ years ago for $5.79M.  It is the most expensive greenspace property purchased by the City (representing nearly 30% of the greenspace monies that have been spent).  (The land is mostly swamp or steeply sloped . . . as with other purchased properties, it is my firm belief that the City overpaid for this property.)  Since its purchase, nothing seems to have been done to ready the property for public use.  This strikes me as odd given the close proximity of the property to the more heavily populated areas of Milton; it is ideally situated between the Highway 9/Windward Parkway area and Crabapple.  And given that the parcel borders Ms. Cookerly’s property, I would have thought the City would be keen to expedite public access to demonstrate no favoritism is being shown to Ms. Cookerly. 

I urge Milton’s citizens to deeply engage in this green space planning process.  Frankly, given my extensive past experience with the City, I am skeptical about the motives behind this new plan.  Often in Milton, process is cynically used to avoid/delay decision-making or to provide cover for decisions that do not reflect citizen sentiment.  Just because citizens are given opportunities for input does not mean that such input is actually used or even considered.  Frankly, I am not sure why more citizen input is even needed.  Myriad surveys, focus groups, etc. have already been conducted over many years . . . the City should know what citizens want, which is why I think this plan is just more delay and obfuscation by the City . . . just more kicking the can down the road.

At tomorrow night’s City Council meeting, I hope that Council will go on record and firmly establish some aggressive and definitive principles for staff to follow:

  1. ALL greenspace land will be expeditiously opened to the public.  Every square inch.
  2. All currently non-public greenspace properties will be simultaneously (rather than sequentially) made ready for public use.
  3. To expedite access, properties will be improved to a minimal standard—e.g., basic trails cut and gravel parking laid down—with the goal of additional improvement over time.
  4. All properties should be made available to the public within a reasonable time period (e.g., 18 months). Enough with the foot-dragging.
  5. Top priority will be given to providing public access to the property at Bethany and Providence.

My hope is that Council Member Cookerly take the lead in tomorrow’s discussion and propose adoption of the above principles.  Furthermore, it would be reassuring to citizens if Ms. Cookerly were to go on record supporting expeditiously providing public access to the property at Bethany and Providence.

Advocating For Expeditious Public Access to Greenspace in Milton,


Milton City Government Shows Contempt for Its Ethics Panel: Prioritizing Politics Over Principle and the People

Following is an update on the Paul Moore Ethics Scandal in Milton.  There is so much wrongdoing here on the part of so many people in Milton’s city government, it is a bit overwhelming to process and difficult to know where to start.  Fortunately, I have invested a lot of time and effort in my (perhaps quixotic) quest to foster principles of good governance in Milton, such as transparency, accountability, honest, rigor, and fairness.  My knowledge and experience allow me to make sense of Milton city government for citizens—to the extent it makes sense, which it sometimes does not . . . at least not to honest and rational citizens.  There is much that occurs in city government that is just plain nonsense or worse . . . it only makes sense to dishonest and self-serving politicians (and their lackeys), who regrettably abound in Milton.

Continuing Information Blackout.  Unfortunately, the City continues its information blackout about Council Member Paul Moore’s ethics scandal.  The City has provided the bare minimum of information to citizens—only what is legally required (e.g., legal notices of ethics hearings at the rear of the Milton Herald and hearing dates/times listed at the city calendar).  The city has posted nothing at Facebook or sent any informative emails to citizens.  The proceedings have not been publicized in any way.  Citizens were not provided an opportunity to watch a live stream of the proceedings.  And no videos of the proceedings were recorded and provided for viewing by citizens.  No documents have been made available to citizens.  And since Mr. Moore’s conviction on 3 ethics violations, the City of Milton has provided no information to citizens, not even notification of the conclusions and recommendations of the ethics panel.  In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Jamison uttered not a single word about ethics.  The City’s consistent lack of communication with citizens about a serious ethics issue constitutes an egregious (but sadly typical) lack of transparency.  It raises serious questions about basic integrity in our city government. The City is deciding what is important for citizens to know, instead of providing citizens with information and letting them decide what is important.  To deny citizens important information is to fundamentally undermine democracy and good governance; it is the opposite of the citizen-centric government (that Mayor Jamison touted in his recent State of the City address).  The City’s current slanted, PR-driven communications border on Orwellian.  Right now, my blog is the only source of objective information in Milton about the Paul Moore ethics scandal and more generally the state of governance and politics in Milton.

Moore’s Ethics Conviction Appeal.  Given this information black-out, I suppose nearly all citizens would be surprised to learn that the ethics case against Paul Moore is still active.  Paul Moore has filed a suit that names as defendants:  Tony Pallazo (the ethics complainant), the City of Milton, and the ethics panel.  This means the City will waste even more time and money on this ethics fiasco and will continue to be distracted from more pressing matters.  It did not have to be this way . . . keep reading.

Moore’s Ethics Conviction.  Make no mistake about it, this ethics scandal and the damage it has done to the city are self-inflicted woundsFor years, the City has turned a blind eye to ethical misconduct. And with the current ethics scandal, City Council and the city administration have made a bad situation much worse through their actions (and sometimes inactions).  Recall that on August 30, 2022, Paul Moore was found guilty of not one . . . not two . . . (drumroll) . . . but three ethics charges concerning installation of traffic calming devices (TCDs) in White Columns.  He was found guilty by a panel of three attorneys randomly selected from a pool of attorneys vetted by the City, who the City (at the start of the ethics hearing) rightfully asserted are experts in due process.  The ethics panel’s conclusions and recommendations follow:

City Council’s Back-Stabs Ethics Panel and Refuses to Uphold Ethics in Milton.  So did City Council follow the ethics panel’s recommendation to give Paul Moore “a written censure or reprimand” and publicly announce this action at a regular City Council meeting?  Did City Council honor and respect its own ethics process and support its own ethics panel?  Did council take advantage of a golden opportunity to declare to citizens its commitment to the highest ethical standards?  The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic NO.

Rather Milton City Council rejected the recommendations of the ethics panel, shirking its responsibility to impose punishment.  No punishment was imposed.  Council stated that with the ethics panel’s finding of guilt in this matter, Mr. Moore (in Mayor Jamison’s words) had been “sufficiently sanctioned.”  Inexplicably, Council showed disrespect for its own ethics panel, for the city’s own ethics ordinance, and for ethics generally . . . sending a clear message to citizens that ethics do not matter in Milton. 

Council cannot overturn the panel’s finding of guilt.  If they could, I believe Council would have overturned Moore’s guilty conviction.  Nevertheless, with their failure to impose punishment, council tacitly signaled their disagreement with the panel’s decision.  I remind citizens that no member of council is a lawyer.  The ethics panel’s decision was well reasoned and the recommended punishment was light, considering the number and nature of Mr. Moore’s ethics violations. The case was the epitome of an open-and-shut case.

Council is standing with Paul Moore against the ethics panel, against high ethical standards, and ultimately against citizens.  And if you have any doubt about this, continue reading the blog to learn about further actions recently taken by council to undermine the ethics panel, to assist Paul Moore in his lawsuit, and aid Mr. Moore’s likely future bid for re-election.

My next blog post will recount other city government actions since Mr. Moore’s conviction and place them in the context of city politics.  Buckle up and grab your barf bag . . . it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

(For local government junkies, I provide additional commentary and analysis at the Bits and Pieces page at the Blog.  Some of these shorter segments are expanded and later published as full blog posts that are disseminated to subscribers.  Following is the link to the Bits and Pieces page: My most recent post is about Mayor Jamison’s recent State of the City speech . . . very disappointing.)

Advocating For Good Governance,


Postscript:  I want to be clear that with my blog posts, I am exercising my right to political free speech.  I invest much time in research and analysis.  I strive to be truthful and base my expressed opinions on facts.  Of course, if a reader finds a factual error, I will make appropriate corrections.  On rare occasions (less than half a dozen), readers have contacted me about factual errors that I did correct.  Of course, my opinions are my opinions, and they may differ from yours.  And I am open to publishing opposing opinions that are well-written, logical, and factual.  And of course, if you are so inclined, you can start your own blog.  Milton would benefit from competing blogs that debate the important issues facing the city . . . but I warn you that a well-done blog requires a lot of work.