Dunwoody City Council members have agreed to dismiss the ethics charges they filed against one another rather than appearing before the Board of Ethics for a formal hearing.
Following mediation efforts, the mayor and six council members signed an official settlement agreement Nov. 30, in which they agreed to dismiss all ethics complaints and agree not to file any further complaints regarding the same incidents.
As part of the agreement, Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, who was accused of leaking confidential from the City Council’s closed executive sessions, apologized for sharing the information in an email to constituents.
“While at the time I sent a response to a constituent’s email of February 12, 2012 I did not think I was doing anything improper in my role as a member of the Dunwoody City Council. I now understand, some of the information included in my email should not have been included. For that mistake I am very sorry. I pledge to the citizens of Dunwoody to do everything in my power to maintain the highest ethical standards,” Bonser wrote.
Council members also agreed to review the city’s ethics ordinance and to arrange for education and training on the Georgia Open Meetings Act.
Earlier this year, Mayor Mike Davis hired former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson to investigate who released then-confidential information about the sale and purchase of land involved in the Georgetown redevelopment initiative known as Project Renaissance. Wilson produced a report that accused Bonser and former city attorney Brian Anderson of leaking the information from the council’s February executive sessions. Anderson resigned after reaching a severance agreement with the city. The mayor and City Council filed an ethics complaint against Bonser.
Shortly after, Bonser filed a complaint against the mayor and council, accusing them of holding an illegal executive session and failing to provide adequate public notice. She also filed a complaint accusing Davis of threatening her and asking her to leave office.
During a preliminary hearing, the Board of Ethics dismissed the charges against City Council for holding an illegal executive session, but upheld the charges against Bonser and Davis. The board recommended that they attempt to come to an agreement through mediation before proceeding with a formal ethics hearing.
In a separate letter, Davis said he is pleased that the City Council has resolved its ethics issues.
“After nine months of public discussions, discovery and exploration I am happy to say the matter has concluded. I am grateful to announce the City and its residents have received a full admission, a statement of contrition and an apology on this matter,” Davis wrote.
He said his goal with the investigation was to end leaks from executive sessions.
“Unethical behavior must be stopped in order for citizens to have confidence in their government. The citizens must be able to trust that elected officials conduct business in a trustworthy, transparent and credible manner. The leaks have stopped and while the experience has been personally and publicly challenging, I am confident we have made our City government stronger,” Davis wrote.
Bonser said in an email from her attorney Matt Reeves that she is glad the charges have been dismissed.
“Concluding this ethics matter frees up the Mayor and Council to do the peoples’ business. Education and training on the Open Meetings Act and Executive Sessions, and a review of the Ethics Ordinance, will promote good government in the new City of Dunwoody. Dunwoody taxpayers and citizens are the winners by having this matter concluded now. I am thankful to have the charges against me dropped, and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Dunwoody,” she wrote.