The new position is a full time chief integrity officer.
“This will be our full-time ethics watchdog, but he or she won’t report to me,” said May. “He or she won’t report to the BOC. Our ethics watchdog will report directly to the board of ethics.”
The chief integrity officer will be responsible for training all county employees, fielding tips about unethical behavior and monitoring an ethics hotline. He or she will have the unilateral power and responsibility to bring all ethics concerns directly to the attention to the ethics board, without having to wait for a citizen complaint.
“I firmly believe in due process, and allowing the issues that have already been brought to the table to run their legal course,” said May. “Having said that, it’s the improper and possibly illegal activity in DeKalb’s ranks that we don’t know about that keeps me awake at night.”
John Ernst, chair of the ethics board said, “It’s become quite clear that the time for talk is over and the time for action is now. The bottom line is that it takes significant resources to hire investigators, gather the necessary information, get to the bottom of these complaints, take action and potentially remove DeKalb County employees.”
May also activated a new ethics policy for all administration employees. The new policy compiles ethics guidelines found in the organizational act as it pertains to merit system employees and is now applicable to all employees under the supervision of the CEO.
Specific guidelines as it pertains to gifts, meals, travel, tickets and honoraria were updated as follows:
-Gifts are only allowed up to $40 per source. No source can give gifts totaling more than $120 per year to any employee, except for awards or certificates, gifts from family members, gifts from other governments or gifts that are given to the county as a whole, not an individual.
-Meals can only be paid for in connection with an official government purpose, otherwise the max is $40 per source or per meal, with a maximum of $120.
-Travel expenses can only be claimed for an official government purpose.
-Tickets to sporting or cultural events are not allowed unless there is an official government purpose.
-Honoraria is not allowed, without exceptions.
“I am sick and tired of where we are and what we’ve become,” said May. “What we have accomplished today is part of a holistic approach, and ultimately, a hardline approach, to restore the public’s trust in DeKalb County government.”
An ethics website and hotline will be established and monitored regularly. The website is www.co.dekalb.ethicspoint.com. The phone number will be (855) 224-8216.