A local mayor paid the price for breaking the city's charter and state law. East Point Mayor Earnestine Pittman faced possible censure, reprimand, or removal from office.
Pittman faced a 60-day suspension but council members scratched that stating the city couldn't suspend her from office. The special ethics committee scolded the mayor with a public reprimand - but some residents call that a slap on the wrist.
"The city council cannot tolerate allowing the mayor to alter her defined role and violations of our code of ethics, charter, or misuse of her veto power," said city Council Member Alexander Gothard. "Mayor Pittman is publicly reprimanded."
The council voted to accept the special committee's recommendation.
Monday's reprimand comes after Pittman filed suit against her own city over utility rates back in November, 2011. An ethics hearing judge also ruled Pittman overstepped her legal authority when she voted to keep then city manager Crandall Jones from receiving his severance package after the city council fired him.
But even more controversy came Monday when the special committee said ethics investigations are only a waste of time.
"City council is self-policing and the time and energy spent on ethics violations are not only a distraction, but an energy draining activity," said Gothard.
"To council there's closure, but to the citizens - what happened tonight was a joke," responded Teresa Nelson who filed an ethics complaint against Pittman.
She worries those strong words aren't enough to keep Pittman ethical.
"They basically gave her a slap on the wrist," said Nelson. "This is the sixth ethics complaint brought before this mayor in which she has been found guilty."
The ethics complaints have been settled, but Pittman still faces a civil lawsuit filed by residents asking the state to remove her from office. A decision in that case could come in a few weeks.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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