Brookhaven, GA, December 11, 2015 – The Post Reports – The City of Brookhaven taxpayers have been billed nearly $9,000 for an Independent Legal Counsel’s opinion on whether Councilman Bates Mattison’s employment as Interim Executive Director of the Brookhaven Innovation Academy (BIA), a State Funded Charter School, brings with it a Conflict of Interest or Ethics violations.
On November 16th, Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams issued a statement calling for outside Counsel to make a determination regarding concerns Mattison’s involvement and subsequent employment with the BIA, may pose Ethical issues coupled with an appearance of impropriety.
On November 25th, the City’s outside independent legal counsel, Attorney R. Randall Bentley, Sr. of Bentley, Bentley & Bentley delivered his decision to City Leaders via email. After a review of case law and City ethics policies, Bentley found Mattison has not broken any laws or ethics codes, but that he must recuse himself on all matters regarding the BIA when performing his duties as a City Councilman.
On December 10th, Bentley delivered a $8,662.50 invoice for his firm’s work to date.
When the call for an outside Counsel was made by Williams, Mattison disagreed with making taxpayers foot the bill because he said he checked it all out before accepting the position and is doing nothing unethical or illegal. He did say, however, that he supported the right of the Council to get answers to their questions.
City Taxpayers have spent over $63,000 funding the City’s efforts to form BIA – just the school part – alone. The work the City has funded for appraisals, consultants, etc., in connection with all the ancillary components of the BIA proposition is mounting ever higher. Bentley’s invoice just tacked on almost $9,000 more.
The City’s Development Authority is finalizing a multi-million dollar deal to purchase Skyland Center which Mattison brought to the City some time ago, proposing it be the home of the BIA. While the chances of BIA starting its life in the Skyland Center are very slim, the City says purchasing it is a good deal so they are forging ahead. The idea is that the City can house some of the City departments there and eliminate paying rent to a third party.