DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was indicted last week on multiple corruption charges, including trying to extort campaign contributions from companies and their employees. He’s also said to have told the county’s head of purchasing to make sure companies got no county business if they failed to respond to his solicitations and had not contributed to his campaign.
Ellis claims he is innocent of the charges, but a jury will decide.
Meanwhile, former DeKalb Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis is accused of racketeering and former DeKalb Sheriff Sidney Dorsey is serving a life sentence for the murder of his successor, Derwin Brown.
And don’t forget that Gov. Nathan Deal was compelled to remove six of the nine members of the DeKalb school board after an accrediting body put the system on probation in connection with the board’s nepotism, fiscal mismanagement and intimidation.
Over in Gwinnett County the headlines last June involved the sudden resignation of county Commissioner Shirley Lasseter after pleading guilty to taking $36,500 in bribes. She was the third commissioner, including Chairman Charles Bannister, to resign there in just two years as part of an ongoing FBI investigation.
Across the river in Atlanta, 65 educators including former Superintendent Beverly Hall have been indicted as part of an alleged cheating ring aimed at raising test scores. And let’s not forget Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who was sent to prison on tax evasion charges and was later disbarred.
Sadly, residents of many parts of metro Atlanta are becoming accustomed to seeing their elected leaders led away in handcuffs.
Thankfully, Cobb County is not one of those places. Not yet, anyway.
Cobb’s halls of government seem to lack a culture of criminality that is found — and often winked at — in so many other places in metro Atlanta and around the country. For one thing, this newspaper (and at times other media) has had an avid appetite for rooting out and heading off such dealings.
Cobb County’s elected leaders have had their stumbles through the decades, but they in virtually every case have been errors of judgment, not errors of criminality. We suspect most county residents would have very little patience if those errors were of the latter category.
Although the MDJ has been forceful in advocating for and demanding government transparency and honesty, we have merely been reflecting the desires and standards of those who live here — and we’re confident they have no desire to see Cobb follow many of its neighbors into the mire.