City Hall security and complaints against elected officials are both on the docket for the Marietta City Council at its Tuesday committee meetings.
The city’s Judicial and Legislative Committee will discuss changes to the city’s ethics code that followed extended drama in the council chambers last year.
In short, a city employee filed an ethics complaint against Councilman Reggie Copeland, alleging he shouted at city staff at an event. City staff then pointed out that city code states only residents of Marietta could file a complaint against an elected official. After that, the employee resubmitted her complaint, but the city’s ethics committee was forced to drop it after attorneys hired by Copeland pointed out the employee did not include required information on her complaint form.
The form, which was provided by the city, did not have a space to include all the necessary information.
In the end, the city had to pay $3,763.50 to Copeland’s attorneys for the matter.
Mayor Steve Tumlin, who could not be reached Sunday, previously called for scrapping and rewriting the entire city ethics code, saying it ought to be called “the Elected Official Protection Act.”
Councilman Johnny Walker said the committee members will discuss replacing the current code with a model ordinance written by the Georgia Municipal Association, which he said would allow those with grievances against elected officials to express them more easily.
“We’ve been talking about using what the GMA ordinance is, just keeping it simple,” he said. “I think citizens should be able to file a complaint against a council member or the mayor. It shouldn’t have to be so difficult.”
The Public Safety Committee will also consider purchasing portable metal detectors to scan people entering City Council meetings.
The city discussed this matter last August, following an incident in which a man was arrested after allegedly trying to bring a gun into the city’s municipal court building. The man was recognized by city workers as someone who has caused trouble at City Hall. At the time, city staff said the estimated cost would be about $4,000.
After deliberation, the Council decided to instead bring on two retired police officers to monitor the entrances to City Hall during business hours. Marietta Police are already present during meetings.
Walker did not say this new discussion was brought about by any specific incident.
“It’s just something that gives an extra layer of security for our meetings,” he said. “It could just be put in that little area before you walk into the room, and they could be moved. And the officer would have to stand there and monitor them.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
♦The Finance and Investment Committee is expected to move forward a budget for fiscal year 2020 for the full council to approve
♦The Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee is expected to vote on $1.4 million in grants for 20 organizations that promote tourism in the city
♦The Public Safety Committee will vote on accepting a $5,140 grant to replace 135 traffic safety vests for firefighters
The committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m. in City Hall. Items approved by city committees are not final unless approved by the full City Council at a separate meeting.