ATLANTA - In her first State of the City speech, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms waited until near the end to address her most significant challenge: restoring public trust.
“What has been broken must be fixed,” Bottoms said. “And we will repair the trust between the people who help make Atlanta work and the people for whom work is being done.”
Bottoms touted a wide variety of accomplishments during her first 100 days, including eliminating cash bail at the municipal court, resolving a protracted dispute with Atlanta Public Schools over property deeds and creating a re-entry program that provides jobs to men serving prison terms for nonviolent offenses.
“I am committed, with your work, to bringing Atlanta together, so that every person and every community is empowered to contribute and share in the prosperity our city has to offer," Bottoms said.
Bottoms said she also plans to tackle human trafficking – a major problem in Atlanta.
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"Our new leader will help us create a blueprint for how the city approaches the prevention of this modern-day form of slavery," Bottoms said.
Bottoms also plans to connect the Atlanta Beltline with a bus line.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the speech was a name not mentioned — that of former Mayor Kasim Reed.
Reed helped propel Bottoms into office during the election late last year. But during the past three months, Bottoms' attempts to advance her agenda have often been overshadowed by the discovery of questionable dealings by Reed’s administration.
"Government cannot function for the people without the trust of the people," Bottoms told the audience on Wednesday.
In the past few months, Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have exposed efforts by Reed’s staff to frustrate access to public records, misleading representations about city records, lavish credit card purchases, and subpoenas in a federal bribery investigation for records related to Reed, who did not attend the address.
On Wednesday, Bottoms said she is in the process of overhauling the city’s ethics policies and hopes to make Atlanta a model for other cities to follow.
She said she would require training for city employees on handling requests made under the Georgia Open Records Act.
Bottoms also acknowledged that restoring trust will be a long process.
“We will continue to work towards finding the right solutions that will change the course of how Atlanta openly and transparently conducts business for years to come,” she said.
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