Recently, I was presented with an opportunity to continue my mission of public advocacy in a dramatically different role.
[Here's the mayor's Press Release announcing citizen advocate.]
On Monday, I became the City of Atlanta’s first ever Citizens Advocate, and while the title may be new, the work itself is something I have done with greater or lesser degrees of success as a journalist for many years.
Like most journalists, I have listened to the citizens, become acquainted with the problems they have encountered with their government, investigated the source of those problems and researched some solutions for them. As the city’s Citizens Advocate, I will still do that, but with a measure of authority that will allow the taxpayers more control over their government and ensure greater accountability.
Every city department has a resolution process in place in terms of customer service or professional standards. In those cases where problems have proven resistant to the city’s traditional channels of resolution, it will be my job to investigate what went wrong, identify those policies, procedures or personnel that have proven to be roadblocks to resolution, and present a report of my findings to the administration.
No doubt some of you may be concerned about my future; you might even be shocked that I have chosen this path. I am grateful for your concern, but it’s important to note that Mayor Kasim Reed didn’t just ask me to join the team, he asked me to join the team and bring my criticisms with me.
I think that it would be very disingenuous of me not to take the job. After all, what kind of person would I be if I continue to offer criticism of the city, but I am not willing to do what I can to help solve its problems when given a perfect opportunity to do so?
The city will publicly announce the job a little later and will offer more information about it at that time.
Thank you, as always, for your faith in me. I hope I will continue to be worthy of it. SR