On Accepting Verizon Ampitheater Tickets
After the AJC and Channel 2 aired their stories about City Council Members accepting tickets from the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau (the ACVB), there has been a great deal of conversation about the issue. As a candidate for Mayor, I have been asked quite a few questions about the matter. After all, three out of three candidates in the current Mayor’s race have received tickets.
Jim Paine – 26 tickets
Doug Derito—12 tickets
David Belle Isle – 6 tickets
Here is the first question I received, which led me to my present position. I thought you should read it for yourselves.
“I have been a supporter of yours since you came on the scene but I can't tell you how disappointed I was to read that you, and to a larger extent your fellow council members, took advantage of free concert tickets to Verizon. Call me naïve, but tell me what right any elected official [has] that entitles them to a perk that the ordinary citizen like me does not get.”
I started to reply in an effort to explain that 6 tickets, or 3 concerts, are not that many; that the first 2 tickets were for the very first concert of this new Alpharetta venue; that the other 4 tickets were offered to all recipients of a mass e-mail to prevent them from going unused.
But, it didn’t feel right. The purpose of our ACVB is to use tax dollars to promote tourism in Alpharetta. While I do not fault the ACVB, tickets to Councilman do not serve that purpose. And, an acrobatic-serpentine explanation doesn’t even sound good in one’s own head. But, there’s something more. Our leaders, especially our next Mayor, need more than just actual authority, they need Moral Authority. We must be beyond reproach. As public servants we are not only called to avoid impropriety, but also the appearance of impropriety. As our leaders go, so goes the integrity of our community.
Therefore I am immediately refunding the value of the tickets I received to the ACVB. I challenge my colleagues, Mr. Paine and Mr. Derito, to do the same and lead by the same example. This is your City. It’s your money. We work for you.
Going forward, I propose that we amend our Alpharetta Code of Ethics to require our elected officials to disclose annually any gifts valued over $150.00 in total. We cannot have a free society without a transparent government.
David Belle Isle
Candidate for Alpharetta Mayor