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Dunwoody Leaks Starts with a Brawl; Ends Behind Closed Doors ... for Now.

A former Supreme Court Justice is looking to mediate a dispute that Mayor Mike Davis asked Councilwoman Adrian Bonser to step down, while she faces charges she leaked privileged information.

What began as probably the most public brawl in Dunwoody's short history could be solved behind the closed doors of the conference rooms of Dunwoody's inauspicious City Hall.

In case you've been under a rock, Councilwoman Adrian Bonser has been very publically defending herself since the spring from charges that she leaked confidential city information related to the city's largest redevelopment project to date - "Project Renaissance."

The 35-acre project could be a signature redevelopment on the city's eastern gateway. Bonser was accused of talking about the project because she wanted to help undermine it, according to a May independent investigation commissioned by the city.

Fast forward to now. Every single city council member has had to defend themselves on ethics charges brought by Bonser. Each has been dismissed by the city's ethics board.

Save one. An important one. Mayor Mike Davis is accused of asking Bonser to step down, and in his words, save the city further embarrasment. She accuses him of bullying and threatening behavoir.

On to Tuesday. The two have agreed to a potential "alternative resolution dispute" that could save an ugly public political battle that could leave scars up and down city government.

Some marks will remain. Former City Attorney Brian Anderson, named as a leak like Bonser, was fired in the wake of the scandal.

But that's in the past. As far as what could happen from here? "I don't really feel in a position to speculate," Bob Mullen, city spokesman said. "I think the spectrum is wide open."

Well, there's little doubt that the mediation is a measurable step back from the uneasy brinksmanship that has marked the affair up to this point. 

Earlier in the process, Bonser went on the attack against all of her fellow city council members, alleging that they called an unlawful executive session to discuss Project Renaissance and that they called a bum meeting when they convened to file a formal complaint against her.

Bonser's bare-knuckled mentality seems absent, for now. Norman Fletcher, a retired Supreme Court Judge, has been brought in to mediate, Mullen said. He served on the high court from 2001-2005. 

The meetings are closed, although the exact state law governing the private nature of the meetings has not yet come to light. 

"It's closed to the public; it's private," Mullen said.

The upshot? Well, first off a young city - at least for now - will not air any more of its dirty laundry. Maybe as important, it could short circuit the ethics board that was required to more-or-less determine guilt in the case through a quasi-judicial process for all to see.

Open formal hearings were going to get ugly, with lawyers gearing up on both sides. That, in turn, could have led the ethics board to recommend the city council remove Bonser from the board. 

There's so many angles here, you couldn't figure out all the politics of the scenarios with Karl Rove or James Carville in the room.

Meanwhile, any successful mediation would bypass all those manuevers. It's not clear exactly what an "alternative resolution" could entail - board censure, a slap on the hand, etc. - but the stakes are clearly lower in mediation than with the ethics board wielding power.

For his part, Mullen said there is no predictable time frame for how long mediation could last. It's also no guarantee it will work.

It's an alternative that could be a solution. But lurking out there is a full, formal, legal hearing that could place political careers at stake. And lots of Dunwoody's money.

Rob October 24, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Bonser has everything to gain and nothing to lose by going through a mediator. Mayor Davis should make a stand, but if they do mediate successfully, then all the council persons should reimburse the city for the $100,000+ in fee`s they have wasted, as well as that $29,000 payment to the former lame excuse of a city attorney Anderson!
jimmie October 24, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Go Adrian. Way not to budge from your beliefs! No more big boy bullying!
Enuff Govt Already October 24, 2012 at 11:27 AM
No clear answer or resolution for the public. Not real smart.
Gordon Sutton October 24, 2012 at 03:35 PM
This is Dunwoody elites idea of open government? It's simply dirty politics for the connected who will ultimately benefit from their 'needed' land purchases . . . naturally handled by themselfs or straw friends.
Michael Caldwell October 24, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Mediation is a form of guided negotiation. Negotiations need to take place in private, or the parties will be hampered in their efforts to reach a settlement that is least objectionable for all, and that is likely to resolve the dispute. Otherwise, the parties' egos, fear of public embarrassment, and/ or political posturing can get in the way of candid and open discussions. This is a good move on the part both of the Mayor and Councilwoman Bonser and it will serve the City far better than a public brawl! Former Justice Norman Fletcher is an ideal mediator for the dispute.
Vivian Hudson Goldman October 24, 2012 at 06:20 PM
This whole mess is why some of us thought cityship was a bad or unnecessary call.
What goes around comes around October 24, 2012 at 09:22 PM
How sad Vivian, and others for that matter, that you are so naive that you can't see the big picture in this situation, that you can't see that there have been tremendous benefits in becoming a City, that you are so biased against this level of 'government' that it was OK to let Dekalb County dictate our goals, that a councilor violated the ethics policy and it's OK with you - not a big deal - that within hours of a "private" meeting, she spoke out of turn AGAIN. Whatever. It will go around.
Mr. Bill October 25, 2012 at 06:26 PM
The bottom line is that Bonser has proven once again she is not to be trusted. She talked out of school on the original issue. Tried to cover it by attacking the rest of the Council with totally false charges, and tried to destroy the reputation of one of her few friends, Ms. Brucker, who came out and told the truth. This run to the press before the mediation is even complete is just another example of her inability to keep her ego in check. When she fails at this, and she will, the city needs to take her to court and recoup ALL of the expenses that this whacked out prima donna has cost the citizens. At least elections are coming up for three seats next year, including hers. The voters can do what the ethics board has not gotten around to.

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