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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Atlanta expected to announce city CFO switch-a-roo

Joya De Foor
  • Joya De Foor
We predict that, in perhaps just a few minutes, Mayor Kasim Reed is likely to call a press conference to announce the resignation of the city's chief financial officer, Joya De Foor, the former city treasurer for Los Angeles who was recruited to Atlanta during a nationwide search.

But that's not all! We also predict that the mayor will announce that De Foor's replacement — pending Council approval, naturally — will be Jim Beard, a fellow CFO applicant who was passed over for De Foor in June of last year and who subsequently landed in the Department of Watershed Management.

Not to kick someone while she's down, but we've been hearing for months now that De Foor was on the outs with the administration, Council members, her own staff — basically anyone working down at City Hall. It didn't help when, in May, an audit confirmed that $5.6 million in city matching funds for the Atlanta Streetcar project had already been spent two years earlier. Poor communication on the part of De Foor was blamed for the snafu.

From what Council members and other insiders tell CL off the record, De Foor was brought in to be the tough reformer that the city's broken finance department needed to get its act together. You'd expect a designated skull-cracker to make enemies; unfortunately, it appears the hard-charging De Foor also failed to make many friends, ultimately alienating both the Council and the administration. Efforts to contact her for this post were unsuccessful.

Still, the news — announced at 6 p.m. Monday by email by Reed Chief of Staff Candace Byrd — took some folks by unpleasant surprise.

"As chair of the Council Finance Committee, I was disappointed that I wasn't notified in advance of this," says Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean. "It's a critical position for the city and I'm waiting to see who the mayor's replacement will be."

Adrean says she hasn't heard that Beard has been offered the job, but that possibility holds concerns for her as well. In addition to overseeing Watershed's finances, Beard has also been tasked with fixing the department's woeful customer service and billing operations, the two problem areas that cost former Watershed Commissioner Rob Hunter his job.

"If Beard is the mayor's choice for CFO, I'd be very interested in seeing who would replace him at Watershed," Adrean says. "We need to make decisions that are best for the city as a whole."

UPDATE: A source tells us that Beard has officially been named as interim CFO, but we still haven't seen a press release. Guess my announcement predictions were wrong!

NOTE: A previous version of this post mistakenly said Beard was the former deputy CFO. In fact, he joined the city in July 2010.

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