DeKalb grand jury critical of government higher-ups

7:28 PM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis

DECATUR, GA -- Some commissioners in DeKalb county say a scathing report issued by a special grand jury isn't much of a surprise.

Read the grand jury report here. 

The report criticized what it called "incompetence, patronage, fraud and cronyism" that it said emerged during the administration of former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones. It continued, the grand jury said, under the subsequent administration of Burrell Ellis -- the CEO now under suspension pending a criminal trial.

MORE | DeKalb commission speaks out on grand jury report
MORE | DeKalb grand jury critical of government higher-ups

Ellis has denied any criminal wrongdoing. Jones's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

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"We have elected people to government at all levels who are more interested in taking care of themselves and taking care of their friends than they are in taking care of the citizens of DeKalb County," said Kathie Gannon, a DeKalb county commissioner.

The report did not implicate any of the commissioners who gathered Thursday to respond. Some of them said the report echoed their own criticisms of county government. The report decried what it called "ongoing fraud and incompetence, (in) vendor selection, contract issuance and contract administration.."

It also accused former department of public safety direction William "Wiz" Miller of ordering a halt to a police investigation into a tree removal service which overbilled the county and had ties to a friend of Jones. "Director Miller interfered with the investigation and failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the apparent and obvious criminal behavior was stopped or thoroughly investigated," the report said.

Miller has not responded to a request for comment.

Interim CEO Lee May says the problem is rooted in DeKalb's CEO form of government -- a system he and other commissioners say they want to change.

"I think it allows politics to enter into the conversation all too often in our county," May said.

But other commissioners, including Gannon and Jeff Rader, say DeKalb's problem has been the people leading it, not the form of government.

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