Milton Herald Article . . . Time to Man Up Mr. Moore

The lead story in last week’s Milton Herald again addressed the never-ending and increasingly shameful Paul Moore ethics scandal.  Following is a link to the Milton Herald article:

Kudos to the Milton Herald for making citizens aware of this important controversy.  This story has critical implications for good governance in Milton.  The Milton Herald raises some important points that need further explaination and should make citizens question the fundamental integrity of Milton’s city administration and city council.  Following are my observations:

  • Palazzo raises an essential point that was also recently broached by the President Emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation (read my previous blog post).  The specter of being sued, having to hire an attorney, and spending tens of thousands of dollars will virtually guarantee that no citizen will ever again file a legitimate ethics complaint in Milton against a Council member.  I have been making this very point since 2016.  I have published blog posts and spoken before Council to plead for a more citizen-centric (and less politician-centric) ethics process in Milton.  Unfortunately, my pleas have fallen on deaf ears . . . and predictably, Milton finds itself facing a serious ethics scandal.  Lack of an effective and efficient ethics process means that citizens have been deprived of an important tool for holding local government accountable.  It also means that politicians are more interested in protecting their privilege and power than in protecting citizens from political misdeeds and misbehavior.  Even if Palazzo wins—and I am confident he will—the example of this case will certainly deter the vast majority of citizens from filing legitimate ethics complaints or otherwise challenging/criticizing their local government.
  • Mayor Jamison is losing his credibility with citizens and expending—and I believe wasting—vast political capital to bolster Paul Moore.  Jamison claims this is a civil matter in which City cannot or should not take a position.  He is parroting the City Attorney who asserts that the City is just a “bystander.”  This is nonsense.  On behalf of the panel, the City filed a pleading in which it requested that the case be dismissed, relief sought by Mr. Moore be denied, and all costs incurred by the City be paid by Mr. Moore.  (The City should demand full compensation of its legal fees from Mr. Moore and sue him for these monies should he refuse.  Citizens should insist on this.)  Furthermore, I would contend that the City is obligated to vigorously defend its ethics process and its ethics panel.  Instead, the City has shied away from its initial pleading and reversed course—now asserting its role is merely one of onlooker and file clerk.  Recall also that it was Jamison who 1) made the motion that Moore not be punished for his ethics violations and 2) recently nominated Moore to be Mayor Pro Tempore (i.e., his number two on Council). 
  • Note that the City has already spent over $14,000 of your tax dollars in payments to the City Attorney’s law firm.  Nearly half of these fees (about $7000) were incurred since City Council refused to impose punishment on Mr. Moore, which I believe emboldened Mr. Moore to file the current suit . . . resulting in more of your tax dollars being wasted by the City.  (By the way, these costs do not include the costs to pay the 3 attorneys that sat on the ethics panel.  I have submitted an Open Records Request to determine these costs.  And of course, the City has incurred significant costs associated with staff time spend on this ethics fiasco.)  There is irony in the fact that the original issue at the heart of this case was consideration of $7000 that the City would contribute toward the purchase and installation of traffic calming devices . . . an issue so perfunctory that it had always been handled as a consent agenda item by Council . . . that is, until the White Columns HOA request . . . the same White Columns where City Manager Krokoff and Council Member Moore reside.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  As Yogi Berra once said:  That is too coincidental to be a coincidence.
  • Moore’s contention that Mr. Palazzo’ initial contact with him for advice, direction, assistance, etc. “belies Mr. Palazzo’s later contention that Councilman Moore should have recused himself” is a laughable non-sequitur.  Citizens routinely reach out to Council Members to get advice and direction.  It is nonsense to argue that such interactions somehow provide future protection against legitimate ethics complaints.  However, such pathetic arguments only serve to highlight the flimsiness of Mr. Moore’s defenses.  This includes Mr. Moore’s recent assertions that he is a victim who has refused to “lay down.”  Anyone who has followed this sad saga from its inception understands that Mr. Palazzo was the underdog in this David-vs.-Goliath struggle.  However, against all odds, Mr. Palazzo turned the tables on Mr. Moore.  Nobody is asking Mr. Moore to LAY DOWN.  Rather, Mr. Moore needs to MAN UP, admit to his misdeeds, and take his lumps.  Integrity, fairness, accountability, and good governance demand it.  What say yea, Mr. Moore?

Advocating For Ethics in Government,


President Emeritus of Georgia First Amendment Foundation Finds Paul Moore’s Lawsuit “Frightening”

In the past few days, both WSB and the Milton Herald have covered the Paul Moore ethics saga.  This disgraceful scandal is enveloping the City and exposing a City Council and a City administration that consistently demonstrates that it cares more about protecting one of their own than about ethics and citizens.  Over the past year, Milton’s city government has had many opportunities to reign in Mr. Moore, but instead has acted to encourage and support Mr. Moore, thereby perpetuating the ethics scandal and its damage to the community.  Furthermore, the city’s strategy of ignoring the scandal and wishing it away have failed miserably.  And increasingly the dysfunction at City Hall is alarming advocates of good governance, such as the President Emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, a non-partisan organization founded in 1994 to promote government transparency and free speech rights in Georgia.  (Read more about this below.)

I am posting both the WSB video and a link to the WSB story.

The comments of Richard Griffiths of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation are troublingly enlightening.  Mr. Griffith rightly contends that a citizen filing a complaint should not find himself the target of legal action, correctly stating “a legitimate complaint to the ethics commission was upheld and now that citizen is facing legal repercussions that are scary and potentially expensive and that’s not right.”  Mr. Griffiths further stated “It’s very chilling.  It’s frightening.”  And it seems that Mr. Palazzo, who filed the ethics complaint, has already spent $30K on this matter . . . and he is likely to spend much more before all is said and done. I believe Mr. Palazzo should sue Mr. Moore and/or the City for these expenses.

The comments in the WSB story by City Attorney Ken Jarrard are also troubling.  Mr. Jarrard has spoken out of both sides of his mouth on this matter.  In its legal response to Mr. Moore’s lawsuit, the City argued for dismissal of the lawsuit:

However, lately Mr. Jarrard has changed his tune and stated that the City is merely “a bystander.”  And in the WSB story, Mr. Jarrard states that the city will “honor and respect any decision of the court.”  This is a nonsense answer.  The City has no choice; the matter is out of its hands.  Is Mr. Jarrard implying that the city has considered actions that would dishonor and disrespect the decision of the court? 

The question that Mr. Jarrard should be answering is: Why isn’t the City of Milton honoring and respecting its own ethics process and its own ethics panel?  Why is the City choosing to be a bystander?  And who is involved in the decisions about the city’s response in this matter?  Is City Manager Krokoff involved?  Remember that Mr. Krokoff himself is “conflicted” in this matter as he lives in White Columns.  Furthermore, it was Mr. Krokoff who advised Mr. Moore that he did not have a conflict in the White Columns traffic calming issue.  Not only is Mr. Krokoff conflicted, but it is not his job to advise Council on conflict of interest . . . a fact that troubled the Milton ethics panel.  So it strikes me that the City’s tepid and contradictory responses certainly protect Mr. Krokoff, who seems to have instituted a city government information blackout concerning the ethics scandal . . . again self-serving.  If Mr. Krokoff is involved in crafting the City’s response to Mr. Moore’s lawsuit, I believe such involvement is unethical . . . and perhaps an ethics complaint should be filed against Mr. Krokoff.

I am quite sure that City Manager Krokoff and City Attorney Jarrard are not acting alone in this matter.  Who from Council is involved?  Mayor Peyton Jamison?  Is Paul Moore involved?  It would not surprise me.  Is former Council Member Laura Bentley, Mr. Moore’s chief apologist, lobbying the City?  Will the City be transparent and explain its stance?  Or is the City going to hide behind the veil of attorney-client privilege?  Citizens deserve transparency about how and why the City has chosen not to support and defend its own ethics process and panelPerhaps Mr. Palazzo should sue the City to determine the truth in this matter.  Mr. Palazzo has been consistently treated unfairly by the City of Milton.  He deserves answers and justice.

Although hard to find, there is a silver lining in this matter.  Through its actions, City Council has put a huge political target on its back.  2023 elections are just around the corner.  Not only is Paul Moore up for re-election, two of his biggest backers on Council, Carol Cookerly and Rick Mohrig, are also up for re-election.  Ethics will be the dominant issue of the election.  Any decent challenger (i.e., ANY FUNCTIONING ADULT) will have little difficulty unseating these three council members.  And the Milton Coalition blog will certainly keep the ethics issue front-and-center during the 2023 election.

(I will also post the latest Milton Herald article on the scandal when it becomes available.)

Advocating For Ethical Government,


WSB Paul Moore Ethics Scandal Story