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Councilwoman Could Face Ethics Board

A complaint about Councilwoman Adrian Bonser by Dunwoody city council members could send allegations that she leaked privileged information to a city ethics board.

Dunwoody city council members have signed a formal complaint against Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, asking that a city board that deals with ethical violations look at allegations she leaked confidential information

The letter, dated May 29, says that Bonser violated a city ordinance and a city charter provision that prohibits disclosing privileged information "to advance the financial" or "other private interest" from the city's executive sessions.

The documents appeared Thursday on the blog "I'm Just Sayin - Dunwoody" - published by Kerry de Vallette, a former candidate for the district 2 seat on city council. Councilman Terry Nall confirmed that the documents were the ones he signed.

The documents bear the signatures of Mayor Mike Davis and the five council members besides Bonser.

The complaint says, "the facts to substantiate this complaint are contained in a report provided to the Mayor and Council by Bob Wilson," a report which was released May 22 by the council.

"Specifically, this complaint alleges that Councilwoman Bonser disclosed confidential information discussed in a valid executive session of the Mayor and Council regarding the purchase of land," reads the complaint. "The information was released to an unknown citizen, who then provided the information to a local blogger Bob Lundsten. Mr. Lundsten posted this information on his website."

Former City Attorney Brian Anderson resigned under pressure Tuesday over the same allegations. Wilson, a former DeKalb district attorney, says in his report that concluded a months-long investigation that Anderson and Bonser leaked confidential information from the "Project Renaissance" land deal in Georgetown that they opposed. 

The council was poised Tuesday to fire Anderson before he resigned. A resolution on the agenda called for his firing, which the council dropped after Anderson and council members agreed to his resignation.

Bonser, as an elected council member, will travel a different path. It's not clear exactly what power the ethics board would wield, since it has never heard a case.

The city's rules seem broad on the matter. The ethics board, a seven-member body appointed by the city council, could rule for anything from a public admonition, to suspension, to removal from office for an elected official, according to city documents. 

Bonser has denied in a statement that she leaked information.

Emily June 02, 2012 at 10:24 AM
I read Ms. Bonser's statement where she responded to the allegations. Some of her explanations just do not match up with the facts. As an example, she e-mailed several constituents around Feb. 12th urging them to contact other members of Council to protest the project. Her defense of this appears to be it was all public record anyway because of the leak, so there is no breach. Interestingly, she fails to mention that she was, in fact, sighted as the source of the initial leak. Funny how that seems to escape her! Only Bonser and the former City Attorney, who advised Council that the meeting needed to be held in Executive Session, openly discussed the details between the February 3rd meeting and the official City announcement on March 8th. The Mayor, nor any of the 5 Council members that signed the the Letter of Complaint violated Executive Session privilege. If Ms. Bonser believed that the meeting should not have been held in an Executive Session, she as a Councilor has a right to challenge that decision by the City Attorney. The City Attorney would then be obligated to address that challenge to the satisfaction of all of Council. That request would not have jeopardized the project or process in anyway. Apparently she chose a more self serving path. One that she felt best served her desires and interests. How will her fellow Council members ever trust her now?
George C June 03, 2012 at 02:49 PM
"Bonser also sent e-mails to two constituents where she expressed her lack of support for the project and, also, how she saw no reason why it should be privileged information." Maybe this will help lead to the end of secretive sessions, which have no place anymore in today's need for open government.
Emily June 05, 2012 at 01:44 PM
George - there are no "secretive sessions". That's just an uninformed statement. Anything that happens in Executive Session that ends up requiring a vote eventually makes its way into the Open session. The intention of Executive Session is to provide our elected leaders the opportunity to discuss their thoughts in an protected forum so that an intelligent and meaningful exchange of ideas can occur. Even if they disagree they can do so in respectful manner. Ms. Bonser clearly shows her contempt for the Mayor, Mr. Nall and Mr. Shortal in her e-mail because she wasn't getting her way. So she decided to "out" Project Renaissance it in an attempt to end it with "public outrage". Unfortunately for her the public has taken to the project as a way to revitalize an area of town in desperate need for vision and a "spark".
Patrick Fox June 05, 2012 at 09:08 PM
If everything discussed in executive session eventually leads to a vote in public, why did the council launch this investigation and commit upto $50,000 in public money without a public discussion? The answer is the "vote" was taken in executive session. No public vote was held. Check the tapes.
Milton Friedman June 06, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Patrick - I respectfully disagree. No vote was necessary on the City Attorney action to terminate because he resigned. A vote was, in fact, taken to provide for and approve a 2 moth severance package, which Mr. Anderson negotiated the afternoon of the meeting. Consequently it was not on the agenda. However, a vote was taken with Council member Shortal as the only member to vote against approving the package, which passed 6-1. That is a fact and is on the City's tape.
Ann Claps June 08, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Ann Claps I still say the good citizens of Dunwoody need to build a Big, Strong Wall around the City of Dunwoody - complete with Moat & Alligators! This Bunch of Clowns running Dunwoody are as transparent as a sheet of glass - or better yet - The Glass Menagarie! Evidently the City of Dunwoody was "created" for all the wrong reasons!!!
Rob June 09, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I am still confused as to how our city is spending millions of dollars on a project that was initially voted down when it was on the ballot as parks space, something the city of Dunwoody desperately needs?

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