• With the Chinese Business Association in Doraville
  • Commissioner Conversations
  • Hosting a DeKalb County Town Hall on Soccer
  • DeKalb 9-11 Ceremony
  • Dunwoody Food Trucks
  • Dunwoody Town Hall
  • Serving Lunch to The DeKalb County Police
  • Chedder - The DeKalb County Fire Department Dog
  • Tucker 2015
  • LaVista Hills - Yes

Press Releases

Oct 06

Commissioner Nancy Jester: The First Reform Action For DeKalb County

Commissioner Nancy Jester, who was not named in the Report of the Special Investigators to DeKalb County, is the first DeKalb County Commissioner to introduce substantive positive policy solutions to address The DeKalb County Corruption Crisis.

This is the first of several reforms Commissioner Nancy Jester will introduce for a vote by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners:

Whereas, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has an obligation to establish policies that promote financial stewardship and safeguard taxpayers resources; and,

Whereas, the Report from Special Investigators Bowers and Hyde demonstrates that internal controls in DeKalb County Government are weak and ineffective at preventing financial, contracting, and human resources fraud and abuse; and,

Whereas, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners should take immediate and decisive action to direct the Administration, including the office of the CEO, the CFO, the Director of Human Resources, and al Department heads, to adopt robust and meaningful internal controls with redundant checks for all expenditures, contracting, and human resources actions;

Now, therefore we, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, do herby order the CEO, CFO, the Director of Human Resources, and all Department Heads to immediately implement internal controls that include requirements for the signatures of Department Heads and the CFO attesting to the validity, legality, and appropriateness of every expenditure, contract execution, and hiring action under penalty of termination and fines if found to be illegal, unethical, or without sufficient documentation.


Oct 05

Pink Twitter Nancy Jester Email Header Pink


DeKalb County iCEO Lee May




October 5, 2015


Dear iCEO May:


I want to thank you for announcing a series of Town Hall meetings to, as you describe them, discuss your Executive Order and the release of the report. 


I have received communications from a large number of DeKalb County taxpayers who have observed there is no Lee May Town Hall currently announced in the north-west part of DeKalb County.


I have been in touch with taxpayers in both Dunwoody and Brookhaven.  I have been asked to invite you to hold two additional town halls, one each in Dunwoody and Brookhaven.

I have been assured that securing an appropriate public meeting location will not be an issue in either community.


I am at your service to assist you, in any manner, to make town halls in Dunwoody and Brookhaven a reality.


I know you share with me a deep respect for the taxpayers of DeKalb County who reside in Dunwoody and Brookhaven and look forward to your announcing you will have “up close face to face conversations” with these DeKalb County stakeholders in the same time frame as you are in much of the remainder of DeKalb County.


For DeKalb County,


Nancy Jester


Oct 05

I Welcome Your Ideas, Thoughts, and Recommendations

Dear DeKalb County Taxpayers:

As you know, the Report of the Special Investigators from Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde to DeKalb County iCEO Lee May was released late last week. 

You may view a copy of this report on my website at this address; www.nancyjester.com   

My bottom-line is this: every dollar discussed in this report is a taxpayer dollar – it is all your money. This is not the county government’s money or Monopoly money, this is money a taxpayer in DeKalb worked hard to earn. As a result, every dollar must be respected.

  • I want to hear from you, the taxpayers of DeKalb County, about this report and any ideas, thoughts, or recommendations you might want to share with me.



  • I welcome input from all parts of DeKalb County, I want to hear from everyone who wants to share.

The Special Investigators have called on iCEO Lee May to resign, I am interested in your thoughts on this matter.

Additionally, there is the question of both the legality and appropriateness of spending by several elected officials and county managerial employees.  I welcome your thoughts and concerns about the reported expenditures. 

These are dark days for DeKalb County. But I remain confident there are better and brighter days ahead. I want to reaffirm my confidence in the vast majority of your DeKalb County employees, most are good and decent people who work hard and lawfully every day to serve you.

I also want to reaffirm my commitment to hold those accountable for any illegal activity and to do all I can to return DeKalb County government to a level of professionalism and competency of which you may be proud.

Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations.

Nancy Jester


Oct 04

Can Lee May still lead?

Corruption report casts doubt on DeKalb CEO’s ethics, competence.

Updated: 7:38 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015  |  Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015

By Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With DeKalb County reeling from one corruption scandal after another, Lee May wanted to prove he could be trusted to lead.

So without a vote or any public input, the acting CEO awarded a no-bid, blank-check contract to a law firm charging as much as $400 per hour. As part of the deal, the county would have no control over how the investigators conducted their work, nor any say-so into the final product.

Six months later, the county faces a tab nearing $900,000 for an investigation that ended where it started — with May. The strongest assertion in the final report is that May isn’t right for the job. He’s portrayed as deceitful and obfuscating, captaining a rudderless bureaucracy that spends money without restraint, with no firm hand at the helm.

When May ordered the investigators to wrap up their work, he said he wanted recommendations on how to improve the county government. Now May says he’ll be disregarding the most clear advice their report offered: Resign immediately.

As if the findings weren’t damning enough, May made matters worse when he denied the report’s allegation that he’d borrowed money from a subordinate, prompting the state’s former attorney general to publicly call him “a liar.”

In the fallout that has followed, some critics say May has lost the moral credibility needed to lead a county in crisis.

“I’m totally disappointed in his leadership of DeKalb County — he wasted money,” said Faye Coffield, a south DeKalb resident and former Atlanta Police sergeant. “Everything flows downhill, and it flows from him down. If you have a person in his position that has integrity and demands there’s integrity in all departments, we wouldn’t have this foolishness.”

The son of a pastor, May became the youngest person elected to the DeKalb County Commission when he was first elected at age 30 in 2006.

In 2013, he was serving as the commission’s presiding officer, next in line to take over as CEO when Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Burrell Ellis from office.

That put May, who holds a master of divinity degree and endured a series of bankruptcies stemming from a failed effort to run a movie theater, in charge of a $1.3 billion operation.

Isaac Blythers, a former Ethics Board chairman, said he wants the governor to remove May from office, although it’s not clear if Deal has that power based on the special investigators’ report alone.

“I don’t think he has enough of a skill set to bring to the table to manage anything,” Blythers said. “Hopefully the governor will decide that this guy is not someone worthy of being in here.”

Former DeKalb CEO Liane Levetan said she’s saddened that DeKalb’s government — and its reputation — have sunk so far.

“I just can’t understand how things got the way they are. It’s really upsetting to me,” she said.

May, who celebrated his 40th birthday last Thursday, did not respond to an interview request for this story.

‘No more corrupt … than any other’

The report by former state Attorney General Mike Bowers and investigator Richard Hyde, begun in March, is just 40 pages long and admittedly incomplete.

A third of the report is made up of lists of “questionable” expenses which may or may not be legitimate, since the investigators didn’t thoroughly vet them. The pair blame any shortcomings in their work on May for ordering them to hurry up and finish when their investigative trail led to him.

The investigators said they examined 50,000 purchases and identified 311 questionable expenses, totalling more than $537,000. More than 90 percent of the money was spent by five of DeKalb’s seven commissioners and May, an AJC analysis found.

The investigators said many of the expenses appeared to be for items and services that were outside the scope of government, such as donations to charity, snacks, gift cards, even flowers.

State Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, wondered if May knew what he was getting into when he hired the investigators.

“I think Lee thought, ‘I can buy myself a clean bill of health by hiring the best of the best,’” he said. “What you get with hiring the best of the best is they looked at him first. Then it started getting ugly.”

In his news conference, May called the Bowers/Hyde report “laughable” and “pitiful,” and downplayed the extent of DeKalb’s problems. “We are no more corrupt than any county in this state,” he said.

May was speaking about a county where his predecessor, Ellis, was convicted this summer of attempted extortion, where former Commissioner Elaine Boyer last year pleaded guilty to an $85,000 kickback scheme and where former Zoning Board of Appeals member Jerry Clark — who was May’s own appointee — confessed in February to taking $3,500 in bribes.

He also expressed exasperation with questions about unrestricted spending on county-issued Visa cards — a rampant problem that led to Boyer’s downfall, pending criminal charges against her top aide, and Ethics Board complaints against other commissioners. The report called for all P-card accounts to be closed.

Instead of pledging to root out any officials who might have stolen from taxpayers, May said, “How much more can we have of P-card transactions?

“I eliminated the P-card program,” he said. “That’s what I did, and yet they continued to research P-card transactions.”

A gaping disconnect

It was hardly the first time May has seemed out of touch with the gravity of problems in his county, or how to deal with them. Since being named interim CEO after Ellis’ indictment, he has repeatedly made statements and decisions that cast him as soft on unethical behavior.

When the AJC uncovered Boyer’s P-card abuses in early 2014, May allowed his spokesman, Burke Brennan, to handle public relations for her, even though Brennan doesn’t normally work for commissioners. Boyer and May were allies when they both sat on the commission.

Later that year the AJC presented May with its investigative findings on Boyer’s kickback scheme. The acting leader seemed more dismayed with the hit to DeKalb’s reputation, suggesting that other counties and cities should be scrutinized in the same way.

“I’m just frustrated right now,” May said on the day Boyer admitted guilt to a federal judge. “The headlines, the accusations, the ethics claims and the criminal charges, as well, (are) more of an obstacle for us here, and we have to get beyond it.”

In 2013, soon after he had ascended to the top office, a rank-and-file employee came to him with suspicions about a $1 million housing rehab contract that had been awarded to a politically connected insider, Vaughn Irons. An extra $500,000 had been awarded to Irons’ company without a bid process, the Community Development financial officer, Harmel Codi, told her boss.

Codi says May told her it was a “non-issue,” which May denied in an interview with the AJC.

Either way, May took no action and later endorsed Irons to co-chair a task force he set up to propose reforms for the county.

An investigation by the AJC and Channel 2 Action News revealed Irons had been making monthly payments to a sitting county commissioner who was helping him with a casino-style resort development, and that he won the county contract thanks to a phony legal document that allowed him to bid despite being a member of the county’s Development Authority.

Irons has denied playing any role in submitting the fake document to the county. In the wake of the revelations, May removed Irons from the Development Authority board — along with the rest of the board, which he said needed a fresh start.

No action on contract

The most recent example of May’s tone-deaf response to questionable spending came just last week, a day after Bowers and Hyde called DeKalb “a disgrace to its citizens and an embarrassment to our state.”

The AJC and Channel 2 reported how May’s top aide, Edmond Richardson, skirted policies to award a $24,500 youth services contract to Clark, a friend of Richardson’s.

Clark billed the county for two months when he did little, if any, work, including a back-dated invoice for February 2014 that was submitted in July.

Clark also appeared to be working as a consultant at the same time he was serving on DeKalb’s zoning board, violating the county’s ethics code. In February of this year, Clark pleaded guilty to accepting bribes while serving on the zoning board.

Former DeKalb District Attorney Bob Wilson told the AJC and Channel 2 that the handling of Clark’s contract was improper and possibly criminal, and May should take action.

“It says you’re not willing to look in the mirror very hard at yourself and the operation around you, I’m afraid,” Wilson said. “I can think of no issue bigger for DeKalb County right now than cleaning up its mess, getting things back on the proper track.”

On Thursday, May said he stood by an earlier position — taken before the Bowers/Hyde report — that he would not take any action.


The Bowers/Hyde report found numerous other problems in DeKalb’s management and financial controls.

The investigators said that despite May’s adoption of a new purchasing policy, the county is wrapped up in a $2.4 million contract that allows a single company to work exclusively on 14 departments’ car radios, even though two other companies could be doing the work for less.

Meanwhile, vendors face a month-long delay in getting paid unless they know the right person to pull a string, according to the report. And the purchasing policy effectively blacklists any contractors who object to the bidding process by forcing them to sue, then disqualifying any firms with a pending lawsuit from bidding, the report says.

The report concluded with 14 short recommendations for reform, including posting commission finances online and keeping departments within budget.

It also suggested that the county eliminate use of government purchasing cards, a step that was mostly accomplished when May suspended most of the county’s 253 P-cards in June on the advice of the investigators. As of Aug. 31, 58 purchasing cards were still in use for emergencies, motor vehicle repairs and court expenses.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said she’s not sure if the report will do much to fix DeKalb. Significant change would have to come from criminal prosecutions, she said.

“Many things are already in process, like the independent auditor,” she said. “I’m ready for some action from the entity that matters, and that’s the U.S. Attorney.”

The former chairman of the DeKalb Board of Ethics, John Ernst, said a combination of government reforms and more responsible individual behavior is necessary for DeKalb to emerge from its difficulties.

“It’s going to take all men on ship. It’s going to take everyone and different structures to get through this current crisis of confidence,” said Ernst, who is running for mayor of Brookhaven. “You can have all these studies and reports, but action is required.”

Oct 04


DeKalb investigators didn’t get to turn over all the rocks

Posted: 8:34 a.m. Friday, Oct. 2, 2015

My first reaction to the Bowers Report on corruption in DeKalb County was a shrug. Maybe because it felt like I was watching a rerun. Or maybe it was a syndrome diagnosed as DeKalb Fatigue.

Much of what was in the report already has appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, work from reporters Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse, who have been dogging the county for more than a year.

On one side of the stage, you have the slender and youthful divinity-student-turned-politician, Lee May. On the other, you have the grouchy and obdurate investigative team of Bowers and Richard Hyde, who were walking away with a small fortune in the six-month operation.

Wow, I figured, doing a quick calculation — that’s $21,000 a page, or about what Stephen King makes for typing.

May had no choice but to come out swinging. He has repeatedly looked to be in over his head in the job that he inherited two years ago when former CEO Burrell Ellis was indicted on corruption charges. (He is now in prison.) May is already known as the Million Dollar Mistake Man in some DeKalb circles for giving the veteran sleuths an open tab to come in and cast a caustic eye on the county.

Bowers has said they have been paid $600,000 and will not bother billing the county for $300,000 still owed them.

The APS investigation was the blueprint for a wide-ranging criminal indictment that snared dozens of teachers and administrators. Last time, the Bowers squad had platoons of GBI agents helping.

This time, it was a more civilianesque affair, one that investigators say was stymied by a ham-handed May. Remember: he’s the man who hired the investigators in March to great fanfare.

Back then, May, who was trying to look bold, faced the TV cameras and said that hiring Bowers and Hyde was “absolutely risky. I think Mike would throw me in jail if he thinks I’m doing something wrong.”


'I hate to call anyone a liar'

Bowers isn’t exactly trying to slap handcuffs on May, but he’s accusing him of dumping pepper on the ground to throw the bloodhounds off the trail. The report says May, among other things, suggested they not interview Morris Williams, a longtime DeKalb inner-circle player who pulled the ripcord and left county employment when investigators came sniffing about.

The report said May borrowed money from the subordinate Williams, a claim that May steadfastly denied a couple times in his press conference Wednesday.

The following day, Bowers told the AJC, “I hate to call anyone a liar” and then did just that.

They produced a transcript of a recording of a May 7 interview in which the CEO allegedly told Hyde, “I may have, you know, say ‘Hey, can I borrow a couple hundred dollars?’ It hadn’t never been more than a few hundred dollars.”

I hate when you come to work and your boss hits you up for a few hundred bucks now and again. And the interim CEO probably hates Hyde had a tape recorder.

The Williams loan accusation is significant because it hints at a mysterious set of circumstances that remain over a payment from a county vendor.

A sliding scale of corruption

The vendor arranged for $6,500 in repairs to May’s home after a sewage line backup and claims he gave $4,000 to Williams with the understanding it would find its way to the CEO to help with his personal financial problems. The vendor won a $300,000 county contract later that year, the AJC and Channel 2 Action News found.

May says he never saw any of the $4,000 and has never taken graft.

Possibly the oddest thing in the report was what I’ll call The Lundsten Test, a sliding scale of corruption created by Bowers and Hyde to determine the level of allowable malfeasance in DeKalb County government.

Bob Lundsten is the former commission aide who the feds tossed back into the pond when scooping up his boss, Commissioner Elaine Boyer. The commissioner was convicted of siphoning off more than $100,000. Lundsten was later indicted by DeKalb County DA Robert James on what appears to less than $300 of alleged fraud, a charge that Lundsten denies.

So, $300 was the going standard of what is a felony fraud case in DeKalb, Hyde and Bowers determined. And they knew they were going to have their work cut out for them because $300 is not a lot of money. They determined they would have to ferret out all the scoundrels cheating DeKalb to the tune of $300 or more. Or they would ferret out none of them. Fair is fair, they reasoned. They rolled up their sleeves, looked at 50,000 purchases and related documents and then, they say, were stymied by May.

May and other officials, including DA James, ignored requests for records, they say. Eventually, May told the hamstrung investigators to wrap it up.

$537,000 in questionable spending by officials

The report demonstrates that controls for spending in DeKalb are loosey goosey. It lists $537,000 worth of “questionable” spending by May, commissioners, some officials, and even DA James. The expenses ranged from a $2.99 cup of boiled peanuts (Morris Williams) to a $34,570 consulting contract paid by Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s funds to her former boyfriend. And, it seems, Commissioner Jeff Rader loves to donate commissioner funds to park, library and historical groups.

Barnes called the investigation a “witch hunt.” Rader said his donations to such causes benefit the public.

Much of the spending is picayune and some of it is probably reasonable and warranted. But because the investigation was short-circuited and never completed, we may never know. The probe’s resulting thud is frustrating to those of us hoping a light might be shined and some truth discovered. It just feels like all the rocks never get turned over.

But there are federal investigators digging into the county. Stay tuned.

Oct 04

via The AJC

Can DeKalb CEO Lee May still lead?

Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse

The special investigators' report on corruption in DeKalb County casts doubt on Interim CEO Lee May's ability to lead.

The report's co-author, former attorney general Mike Bowers, called May a "liar" after he said he'd never taken a loan from a subordinate.

Now, some DeKalb residents are questioning May's ability to govern a county in crisis.

It's a stunning turn-around for a politician who many thought had a bright political future.

Oct 04

via The AJC

DeKalb officials dole out more than $500,000 in questionable spending

Posted: 5:08 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, 2015

By Mark Niesse and David Wickert - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Since 2008, DeKalb County officials have spent more than $537,000 on questionable expenses, using public money to buy everything from food and flowers to pricey consultants to craft their public image, an AJC analysis of the DeKalb corruption report shows.

In payments as small as $2.99 for boiled peanuts and as large as $90,763 for printing and mailing, county commissioners and other officials doled out taxpayer money for a host of products and services that special investigators Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde say should be scrutinized further to determine if any legitimate public purpose was involved.

Some DeKalb residents told the AJC they want a full accounting of the spending.

“It’s just a mindset,” said South DeKalb resident Charles Peagler. “They feel that whatever they do they’re justified in doing because there was nobody monitoring them. There was no oversight.”

DeKalb officials have decried the report and defended their spending, saying their expenses were appropriate parts of their government jobs. Many of those expenses were made with government charge cards, most of which were suspended by Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May in June.

“There was so much focus on purchasing cards. There was no effort to report the truth,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton.

Investigators identified $167,168 in questionable expenses for Sutton, the most of any commissioner.

“I hope we are done with this, that we can move on with the work of the county, do the best we can possibly do for our constituents and help rebuild the public trust,” Sutton said.

50,000 purchases; 311 questioned

Bowers and Hyde examined more than 50,000 purchases made over many years and said they found thousands of questionable charges. They listed 311 of those charges in the investigation report released Wednesday.

The newspaper analyzed the expenses detailed in the report, broke them down by type of spending and totaled them for each commissioner and department. The AJC was unable to verify the accuracy of all the expenses identified in the report, but did find $103,197 that was erroneously attributed to Commissioner Stan Watson.

Among the AJC’s findings:

  • The report questions $537,239 worth of spending dating back to 2008, most of it by county commissioners.
  • Most of the individual expenditures were less than $500. But there were dozens of expenditures worth more than $1,000. The largest: $90,763 that the investigators said was spent by Watson’s office at AADCO Printing & Mailing in 2008 and 2009. Watson wasn’t elected until 2010; an audit last fall also noted the same spending from 2008 and 2009, when Commissioner Connie Stokes was in office.
  • The report cited $25,463 in questionable expenditures by May. But several commissioners spent much more on questionable activities, according to the report. Among them: Sutton, $167,168; Larry Johnson, $66,036; Rader, $58,441; and Kathie Gannon, $49,824.


The analysis found the expenditures ranged from $3,730 for flowers to $256,791 for consulting services. Other significant types of spending included charitable contributions, $92,405; food, $35,804; and supplies, $115,887.

Donations to charities

One of the biggest categories of questionable expenses identified by the investigators — more than $92,000 — was donations to charities, which the report said violated the Georgia Constitution’s ban on gratuities.

Commissioner Jeff Rader said his $44,241 in donations to nonprofit organizations included support for senior citizens, increased public safety and provided scholarships for children to attend Shakespeare performances.

“The substance of what we spent money on, at least in my office, I would certainly defend all day long. They delivered value for money and frankly are probably more efficient service delivery entities than is the county itself,” Rader said. “I’m comfortable that I dind’t receive any personal benefit from any of them.”

But Jim Grubiak, general counsel for Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the organization for county governments, said that kind of giving is likely prohibited in Georgia.

“You can’t on your own decide which charities use county or city dollars, no matter how good it is or helpful they are to the community as a whole,” he said.

Michael Halicki, executive director of Park Pride, said the $20,000 Rader donated to his organization was used to support DeKalb parks, including about $5,100 for Springbrook Park. He said contributions like Rader’s are matched by private contributions and help pay for projects that might otherwise not receive adequate funding.

“People talk about how we need to do more with less in government,” Halicki said. “This is a good example of stretching taxpayer dollars.”

Politicking with public money

Others, however, noted how using taxpayers’ money for charitable contributions with taxpayers’ money can buy political support. State Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, cited Commissioner Larry Johnson’s $11,500 in contributions to the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center, which earned him a plaque at the facility that identifies him as a “platinum” donor.

Johnson has said it was appropriate for him to support the center as it endured budget cuts, and last year the DeKalb County Board of Ethics unanimously dismissed a complaint sparked by the donation. But Taylor sees such contributions as a way to curry political favor.

“The most disturbing thing is just the use of taxpayer dollars to, frankly, campaign,” he said.

Sutton spent $1,100 on a portrait of President Barack Obama that she won at an Oct. 20, 2013, charity auction benefiting Africa’s Children’s Fund, which serves children here as well as in Africa and the Caribbean. The investigators listed a $1,000 expense from Sutton for the charity on that date.

And Gannon got her name inscribed on a brick at the Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library after she gave $100 to the DeKalb Library Foundation on May 25, 2012.

Some of the biggest expenses outlined in the investigation report were for consultants who helped burnish the images of elected officials.

For example, from 2011 to 2014 Sutton paid $46,000 to the Influence Factory, a political consulting firm. Last year the AJC reported that the company’s Howard Franklin wrote proclamations, talking points and news releases for Sutton. He also ghost-wrote an opinion piece and worked occasionally on her campaign, though Franklin insisted he never billed Sutton for that work.

In their report, Bowers and Hyde acknowledge much of the spending they cited may be legitimate. They said more analysis is needed to know for sure.

Peagler, the DeKalb resident, said commissioners should explain all of the expenditures outlined in the investigation report.

“If you don’t have anything to hide, then let’s come clean and say, ‘This is what I did and this is why I did it,’” he said. “If I have a report that says what you did and there’s no rebuttal to this report, how am I supposed to believe you are innocent?”