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,