Ethics complaints that cost the city of Dunwoody an estimated $100,000 in legal costs were settled with an apology from a city councilwoman and an end to the investigation of who leaked information from an executive session.
The process resulted in the city paying $50,000 for a lawyer’s investigation, $30,000 in severance to its former city attorney and $150 per hour fees for the Board of Ethics’ outside counsel and hearings officer.
The investigation into the leak resulted in a May 17 report by former DeKalb District Attorney Robert Wilson that named Councilwoman Adrian Bonser and then-City Attorney Brian Anderson as the sources of the disclosures. Both denied leaking confidential information from the Dunwoody City Council’s Feb. 3 executive session, in which it discussed a land transaction to sell parcels from 16 acres known as the PVC Farm to a housing developer.
Bonser apologized for emailing a constituent Feb. 12—after the executive session information had been publicized—about her belief the sale should have been discussed in public.
“Dr. Bonser’s focus was on concluding the wasteful expenditure of Dunwoody money on this matter,” said her attorney, R. Matthew Reeves of Andersen, Tate & Carr. “Dr. Bonser did not leak executive session discussions on or around Feb. 3 that made it into the news media. Someone else did that.”
The settlement agreement, Bonser’s apology and a letter from Mayor Mike Davis were posted on the city’s website last week. The deal was reached after mediation handled by former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Norman Fletcher, an ethics hearing overseen by Lawrenceville attorney Dennis Still, and counsel to the ethics board provided by Richard Carothers. The agreement calls for the city to review the ethics ordinance that led to the legal expense, and for education and training on the Georgia Open Meetings Act.