Reed 'Not A Parent' When It Comes To Council Spending

Jun 5, 2014

Credit Michell Eloy / WABE News

With a spotlight on city council spending accounts, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s staying out of the way.

Reed said regulating council spending is a legislative issue, not an executive one.

“I’m not a parent, and I’m not going to speak to other adults about how they should conduct and comport themselves,” the mayor said Wednesday at an unrelated press conferece.

Council spending has again come under scrutiny after long-time councilwoman Cleta Winslow was accused in an article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of misusing more than $65,000 in city funds over five years for lawn-mowing services in her district, including the property across the street from her house.

Additionally, Winslow was accused of paying homeless men below minimum wage to pick up trash in her neighborhood while wearing her campaign T-shirts.

The city ethics office is investigating the accusations.

Council members currently spend their annual office budgets mostly as they see fit.

City auditor Leslie Ward and city ethics officer Nina Hickson have both said the necessary spending safeguards to prevent council members from using money for personal or political reasons are not in place, and have called for more transparency in the process.

Reed said he won’t interfere.

“If they believe they need more oversight, everybody in the Atlanta City Council can introduce a bill,” he said. “And so I don’t think that’s the way for me to go.”

City auditor Leslie Ward said last week her suggestions from 2009 to reform spending practices and provide certain checks have so far been ignored by the council.

Reed suggested pressure on the council to change could come from outside City Hall.

“The public sees what’s going on,” he said, “and I believe the public will make its judgment.”