City inspector general investigation questions payments over mayor’s Senior Ball

A note with the words, “professional courtesy” was attached by the mayor’s office to a $120,653 invoice for payment for bills related to the annual mayor’s “Senior Ball,” according to a new investigation by the City of Atlanta Office of the Inspector General.

The Mayor’s Senior Ball dates back to the 1990s and was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel last October.

The investigation by the Inspector General alleges several charges for the Senior Ball violated city spending policies and that the event itself should not have been paid for without City Council approval.

However, the OIG found that the charges were processed after the words “professional courtesy” were attached to the invoice.

The investigation found that the 11 other times in 7 months the mayor’s office also requested noncompliant payments be processed as a professional courtesy.

The inspector general determined the “professional courtesy” requests “may give the impression that the Office of the Mayor is not subject to the City’s rules and policies.”

William Perry heads Georgia Ethics Watchdogs.

“It’s difficult to say no to the Mayor of Atlanta when something comes from his desk,” Perry told Channel 2.

The Inspector General is a relatively new office.

Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pushed the city council in 2020 to change the city’s charter and create an independent inspector general after the federal corruption trials into the administration of former mayor Kasim Reed.

“Perhaps this is a good lesson for this mayor to learn that he’s got to be toughened up and tighten the financial ship over there,” Perry said.

Dickens’ office wrote in a response letter to the Inspector General on Aug. 28 that “ethical government is a core pillar of the Dickens’s administration.”

The mayor’s office wrote that a new ordinance has been introduced at the city council to create a dedicated, non-tax dollar trust fund for the senior ball.

The inspector general also questioned the purchase of hotel rooms for the mayor, his mother and sister, and staff members.

However, the mayor’s office maintains that since his mother was the host of the event, the hotel rooms were appropriate.

Still, Dickens has agreed to refund the cost of the hotel rooms for his family, writing: “To remain in compliance with the highest ethical standards, though not recommended in your report, Mayor Dickens has appropriately submitted reimbursement to the City for the hotel costs incurred by himself and his family during the 2022 Senior Ball.”

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