A fact check on taxes and the Atlanta mayoral race

This week, the campaign of Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood pointed journalists toward documents that it said showed that rival Kasim Reed has owed tens of thousands in late property taxes to the city and the county.

One media outlet ran a story. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did not.

My AJC colleague Cameron McWhirter and other reporters spent weeks vetting the major mayoral candidates this summer.

In the course of that reporting, McWhirter checked Fulton County tax records. Reed met with him and provided detailed documentation about his financial holdings, real estate and tax payments. Reed owed no back taxes at the time of the meeting and owes none now.

Much of the Reed’s tax “problem” cited by the Norwood campaign is $27,240.04 for city and county taxes that aren’t due yet. They aren’t a problem unless he doesn’t pay them.

By the same standard, Mary Norwood and her husband owe $10,329.91 in city and county taxes this year for their property at 3371 Habersham Road.

(Norwood campaign manager Roman Levit said the information on Reed’s 2009 obligations were included only for context.)

The total that Reed has been penalized for late tax payments on three pieces of property he owns is $837.41 – for three late payments in the last six years. (He has not owned all the properties in that time).

For a property at Overlook Court, he owed $605.16 in penalties and fees to the city and $208.33 in fees to the county in 2008. Reed has a letter from his bank stating that they erred in not paying the taxes that Reed had paid to them in escrow. The taxes subsequently were paid.

For a 15th Street condominium he has owned since 2003, he owed the city $14.74 in penalties in 2007. He owed the city $6.86 in penalties and the county $2.50 in penalties in 2006. He paid these penalties.

Kasim Reed is a stakeholder in a real estate holding company, Cascade Investors LLC. Cascade Investors owns a warehouse on Fairburn Road. The corporation is registered to Reed’s address and incorporated with Reed as the agent.

Reed said when the company was first formed, he was a managing member. Now he is not, and has a 20 percent stake in the company.

Reed says that as a minority holder, he is not responsible for payment of those taxes. The corporation was penalized $1,480.56 in 2008 and $1,598.96 in 2009 for late payments for the warehouse. In 2008, Cascade Investors paid $518.59 in penalties for late taxes paid on an empty lot the firm had purchased that same year.

Reed provided documentation that he sent in his portion of the tax bills on time.
Levit, campaign manager for Norwood, insisted that the fines show a pattern. “Every year from 2002 he’s been late. It’s not a one-time accidental thing,” Levit said.

Norwood herself was quoted in this prepared statement:

“For over a year I have been talking about bringing fiscal accountability and basic accounting skills back to city government. Just as I have pledged to hold everyone connected with city government accountable, it is equally important that those of us who hold public office be accountable.

For me, paying your taxes in a timely fashion is something each citizen must do. The public has every right to know which elected officials pay their taxes on time — and which ones do not. Let there be no doubt, my husband and I pay our taxes on time every year.”

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60 comments Add your comment

Michael

November 13th, 2009
2:23 pm

Reed is just the same old that we have had for 36 years. Vote Mary Norwood for hope, change, and accountability.

Brandon

November 13th, 2009
2:33 pm

Not much of a story. Sounds like the Norwood campaign is just trying to drum something up while they search for their candidate. Where is Mary Norwood?

Brandon

November 13th, 2009
2:40 pm

As soon as the election got hot for Mary Norwood, she disappeared. Tells you quite a bit about her character. She was all smiles when Reed and Borderrs were battling it out, but now she obviously shaken.

Solid Peach

November 13th, 2009
2:44 pm

I’d like to thank the AJC for not wasting our time with this story.

Emory Texan

November 13th, 2009
2:44 pm

If you are going to make statements like that, Norwood, you better be right. Looks like you weren’t so it seems pretty unprofessional to me.

Jackalope

November 13th, 2009
2:47 pm

@Brandon – wtf are you talking about? She’s been on TV every day this week and shot an ad yesterday. You can view the ad on galloway’s blog. Wtf are you even talking about?

Poor Norwood

November 13th, 2009
2:53 pm

newA

November 13th, 2009
2:59 pm

Mary is so sad… Her campaign is drowning.

Angry Taxpayer

November 13th, 2009
3:14 pm

So why not make all of this information available to the public on-line?

And who is the potential Mayor of Atlanta doing business with that refuses to comply with the law and pay their taxes?

what a waste

November 13th, 2009
3:16 pm

Mary even has this “tax fraud” stuff on her website.

*snore*

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Moutain out of a molehill. Anything to stop the endorsement press Reed has been getting.

Sad indeed

bill

November 13th, 2009
3:46 pm

vote mary…

common sense aint common

November 13th, 2009
3:57 pm

i’m a kasim reed supporter, but i’m still kind of surprised at the derailment of mary’s campaign. since the run-off election began, her politics have become an absolute disaster. yesterday, he tried to dismiss kasim’s continued endorsements as politics as usuals, but up until monday, she desperately sought lisa border’s endorsement. & this story is some bs too. it’s time to call a spade, a spade & mary you’re a joke. maybe she needs a new campaign manager.

Keep it Real!

November 13th, 2009
4:01 pm

You folks are so limited in your scope of vetting a candidate! Instead of asking these candidates real questions on how they are going to turn this city around you start blogging about this nonsense.

Either way the city loses neither Norwood nor Reed will turn around the City if Atlanta. They just do not know how to lead! Just listen to the answers to questions when asked about improving Atlanta.

JOHN

November 13th, 2009
4:03 pm

MARY IS STILL THE BEST CANDIDATE. REMEMBER THE MEMO TO KEEP THE MAYOR BLACK…THEY ARE TRYING…DEMOCRAT AND BLACK….
vote change vote mary

Disco Flu

November 13th, 2009
4:04 pm

Keep it Real!, truest thing that has been written on this blog all day. Atlanta is a cesspool and neither of these candidates will turn that around. If you want a nice, safe, high standard of living, move to a suburb outside of Atlanta or a nice urban city elsewhere. If you are interested in staying in the South, may I suggest Austin or Charlotte?

JOHN is a racizt

November 13th, 2009
4:05 pm

[kidding]Yea, John! Don’t let the blacks get their mayor! White people, vote for a white mayor![/kidding]

You, sir, sound like a racsit fool

Wright Mitchell

November 13th, 2009
4:09 pm

Mary has run out of gas.

Lou

November 13th, 2009
4:41 pm

The comments of Maynard Jackson’s former wife are about as racist as they come. Her call for African Americans to wake up and not vote for a “Southern white” would be all over the media if the races were reversed. Kasim Reed will probably defeat Mary Norwood but not out of merit for his abilities–solely on the color of his skin being “right” for Atlanta. Cynthia Tucker is gone but the racist policies of the AJC seem to remain fully in place: Black/good; White/bad.

Susan

November 13th, 2009
4:46 pm

I am a white woman who voted for Norwood because she is white it time for a white mayor.

Where is Mary Norwood

November 13th, 2009
4:48 pm

Mary Norwood is running scare that why she is going to lose…Susan you are a racist lady. I am getting out the vote for Reed

Joe

November 13th, 2009
4:49 pm

I am a resident in Midtown I am white susan and I am voting for Reed

commercial Ad

November 13th, 2009
5:03 pm

Mary Norwood is lying about Reed taxes proof as just been that Reed does not owe taxes. Mary Norwood is going to lose with these lies

The Same Blogger by Any Other Name

November 13th, 2009
5:27 pm

“Where is Mary Norwood” = “Joe” = “commercial Ad” = etc.

Either that or all Reed supporters can’t spell and approach illiteracy.

Probably both.

Georgia Girl

November 13th, 2009
5:42 pm

Voting for a white or black candidate will not resolve the financial problems the City of Atlanta. Let’s take race out of the equation or leave the city!!!!

The Real "To Jeff"

November 13th, 2009
5:49 pm

The Same Blogger by Aany Other Name is a investigater for Norwood why are you worrying what people type on the blogg look I have a job for you and you are hire for Zee job as a spokeperson for Mary Norwood

James

November 13th, 2009
5:51 pm

Vote for Reed if dont want the same mess

The Real "To Jeff

November 13th, 2009
5:52 pm

the same blogger you are coo coo I bet you working for Reed

Reed dont owe taxes

November 13th, 2009
5:58 pm

Now Mary Norwood campaign manager is getting out of control this sound like dirty politics..Mary Norwood is another Sarah Palin …That why Norwood campaign is in shamble because of dirty politics. Levit need to know where Norwood is at before he bring up dirt on somebody.

Jay

November 13th, 2009
6:18 pm

How ’bout a good Chinaman! Everybody knows how good they are with numbers. Atlanta’s finances will be “right as rain” in a matter of weeks.

Kidding, yes! Just wanted to poke fun at the racial aspect of EVERYTHING in Atlanta!

muddy waters

November 13th, 2009
6:21 pm

@ John: “vote change vote mary”

Mary’s been an elected member of the City government for 8 years.

“Change” would be for her to NOT be a member of City government. It’s not like she’s done a good job in her eight years “in power.”

I”m voting for “change.”

Kasim Reed for Mayor.

The Same Blogger by Any Other Name

November 13th, 2009
6:27 pm

Love it Jay!

To all Reed proponents: A free thesaurus and dictionary to every one of you.
Remember to enter promo code “HAVENOCLUE”.

To Norwood proponents: Free DVD of The Wizard of Oz.
Remember to enter promo code: “IFIONLYHADABRAIN”.

What up The Real To Jeff? Have a goot weekend. Ashalamalakah my brother.

Lee

November 13th, 2009
7:04 pm

I think it is very clear who the AJC wants for mayor ….blacks will hang in there with each other on this one…sad its come down to race, but its the ATL……with Reed as mayor it is going to be more of the same….why do you think he’s getting more endorsements?

Dick Whitman

November 13th, 2009
7:05 pm

Kasim Reed… Same old same old different day…. Definition of idiocy .. keeping on voting the same ways as always and expect different results ( or a brighter future )

Barky Obummer

November 13th, 2009
7:06 pm

Barky wants Norwood! … for CHANGE!

Tuxedo Park

November 13th, 2009
8:08 pm

Hey!

Did you know Bill Campbell gave Mary Norwood her start in civic leadership in the city? Also, I bet you didn’t know that many of Mary Norwood’s staffers are affiliated with our disgraced former mayor. Zee Bradford and Michael Langford, were high ranking Campbell officials. Bet you didn’t know that did you? Did you know that Clair Muller’s rise to prominence in Atlanta politics was supported and pushed by Maynard Jackson? Why do you think she is Transportation committee chair on council, that oversees the airport?

The bottom line is, affiliations to the current and past administrations run deep and wide and all are connected. Just sharing.

Stupid Ad

November 13th, 2009
8:18 pm

Mary Norwood doing dirty politics like Sarah Palin look what ad talk about a dead man was murder if i was his family i would confront Norwood talking about how a man was murder using a dead man who was murder to get votes this is disgrace to put a murder spot on her AD the State Attorney should investigate mary Norwood to put a murder scene on her Ad I wondering if they going to bring charges to her because I wonder if they have finish with murder investigation. Mary Norwood is using murder scene for votes.

To people who don't get it

November 13th, 2009
8:19 pm

Tuxedo!!! You are the best. I was thinking that during the entire campaign. I think the whites are more connected to the old black regine than the young blacks. Its the truth. Mary was a big fan of Bill Campbell and she supported him and he supported her. I remember these folks back in the day together and it was the old white heads with the old black crooks!!!!!!!!!

To people who don't get it

November 13th, 2009
8:23 pm

AJC!!!! ATTENTION CAN YOU DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE AND RESEARCH THE RELATIONSHIPS OF MARY TO THE OLD BLACK LEADERSHIP THIS WOULD BE THE STORY OF THE RUN-OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The election articles didn’t even get into the truth and I am hoping that our paper gives us the real truth of the matter. I don’t know if Kasim was accepted by them. Usually black men in politics don’t support the young ones coming up. I know this to be true and you can ask Joe Lowery how he feels about passing the TORCH!!! They tell you to come and get it!!!!!!! You have to earn your way!!!!! Its the way of democracy for the future. The old heads took care each other, black and white. I wonder who Mary owes for this rise in power move?

Stupid Ad

November 13th, 2009
8:32 pm

I agree with you 100% because Norwood is using Bill Campbell Staff in her campaign I told everyone Mary Norwood campaign is in trouble. AJc need to talk with the State of Attorney to see is rite to use a muder spot for vote during election. Mary Norwood need not to use a murder spot for votes this is disgrace to the city of Atlanta. Norwood help close the fire station and she also voted to close 20 recreation center down. Norwood been in city council for 8 years why it taken this long to say what you going to do, Norwood should have did something about the crime 8 yrs ago and also she should never voted to close 20 recreation center down.

Tuxedo Park

November 13th, 2009
10:56 pm

I just wanted to shed a little light on all the accusations flying around this blog. I’m not Reed supporter and I actually live in Tuxedo Park. Maynard Jackson was good friends with my father and they both were fine men. I am considering lending my support to Reed, but he’s got to committ to ethics reform and fiscal oversight. I like Mary, but she seems to be way out of her league. She doesn’t have the gravitas for the office.

Just my two cents.

True should be told

November 13th, 2009
11:06 pm

Tuxedo Park i believe you are telling the true. Mary Norwood is not telling the true and her campaign is in shamble. I look at Reed as a leader who is really trying to fix the problems that faces Atlanta.

That why alot of voters are switching to Reed as mayor

Can't trust the machine

November 14th, 2009
12:48 am

Now matter how much you try to spin against Norwood, you can’t hide from the fact that Reed is the machine candidate. We need a mayor accountable to the voters, not accountable to the machine

Get Real

November 14th, 2009
12:49 am

if you want more of he same vote reed! it appears to me that there are people who want a black mayor to keep atlanta black but he/she has to be mayor of every race not just the black folks in atlanta what about your asians, latinos don’t they count!? you folks are we bringing this down to black and white! but atlanta is more than that and reed should make it known that he will be the mayor of all atlanta and not just the black “airport driven” elite!

PoliticOracle

November 14th, 2009
3:33 am

@Get Real

Please tell me how a vote for Norwood wouldn’t be a “more of the same”. Tuxedo Park has made good points about Ms. Norwood being affiliated with the likes of Bill Campbell and how he gave her a start in city politics. I already knew she was had hired former Campbell staffer Zee Bradford, but I’m not sure about the Michael Langford thing. I was also shocked to hear that Clair Muller was pushed by Maynard Jackson and it is an interesting point that she is chair of the transpo committee, the same committee that oversees the airport.

There’s an old adage that says “politics makes strange bedfellows” and its no different in Atlanta than anywhere else.

But, I digress. How does Mary Norwood equal change, again? Maybe I missed something. This is the same councilmember that, for 5 years, sat on council doing nothing. No committee chairmanships (through two council presidents) and sponsored no legislation with citywide impact, just the McMansion law. And she sat by and rubber stamped everything Franklin proposed until it was no longer convenient.

Norwood is not change, Norwood is the same with a different skin color. People please don’t make this election about race. John McCain lost the 2008 presidential election, because he was promoting the same tired policies of the stale republican ideology. The change Barack Obama ushered in was centered around ideological change and not the color of his skin. Changes like healthcare reform, the Ledbetter act and higher regulation on the banking industry is what allowed B.O. To win the hearts of America. I’m sorry, to all Atlantans that want Norwood to win because she is white. That is contrived reason to vote for someone and for that much, she will fail because she fans this notion by comparing herself to Barack Obama and quoting MLK. Maybe Amir Faroki will be our first non-black mayor in a 40 years or even Yolanda Adrean or Margaret Kaiser if they do a good job, but Mary Norwood doesn’t cut the muster, people. I mean, honestly she seriously doesn’t.

There are some young progressives waiting in the wings that will shake things up. And guess what? A lot of them are supporting Reed; like the openly gay Reese McCranie or Stacey Abrams that supported Lisa Borders. There are even Asians supporting Reed like Amy Phoung.

Reed is the future!!

Kasim Reed for Mayor!!

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

November 14th, 2009
8:19 am

Galloway, your excuses for not running the story are slim, as you failed to point out- and this is a big omission- that the bank that issued the letter (claiming it was the bank’s mistake about the taxes) has as a Director- drum roll, please- Kasim Reed! And how about the fact that the LLC is registered to his address: he gets the notices about the taxes, Galloway.

Staying Out

November 14th, 2009
9:05 am

Neither of the candidates have the chops to do the job. Mary Norwood is a good civic activist wholly incapable of managing a a meeting, let alone a city. Kasim Reed is ethically challenged and is tap dancing as fast as he can, hoping no one notices his resemblance to felons past. I’m writing in my cat for Mayor. At least I know the crap that’s coming.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

November 14th, 2009
10:51 am

“Progressives” in this town are always “waiting in the wings.” That’s all they do, is wait- and b_tch while they’re waiting. Like Nan Orrock, an intown Senator, who has done absolutely nothing for anyone or anything, blaming her ineffectiveness on “Republicans”; yet, when the Democrats were in power she was equally ineffective- she endorsed Reed. All these people who b_tch, moan and complain – like Vincent Fort- but have never lifted a finger to actually do anything, same as Orrock, and he endorsed Reed. These folks, like most Reed supporters, see politics as a career, like a salesman would: doesn’t matter what you sell, as long as people are buying. Or the Rev. Tim McDonald, the fast-friend of Louis Farrakhan, the noted race-baiting anti-Semite, he’s a Reed supporter. Nice bunch of folks, right?
Maybe Norwood will fall on her face. But even that will not make the people of this town wish for the characters of The Machine to come back.

Truth be told

November 14th, 2009
11:07 pm

Kasim Reed defended Cracker Barrel against NAACP lawsuits:

http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/news/0546.html

wow

November 15th, 2009
2:28 pm

kasim defended “craker barrel” wow he is a corporate lawyer after the interests of a machine and not that of the people? lets face it kasim is a politician with no balance in his life ie: wife, kids or nice demeanor lets face it the guy has a difficult time smiling without an agenda behind his pearly whites. I will be glad when this mess is over I am so disenchanted with the whole mess whoever the mayor of atl is the mess will be hard to clean up also the more endorsements you have the more favors you owe. Kasim will be in a deep pile of mess trying to pay his favors in full. Obama didn’t have to worry about too many favors he just leaped over from jr senator to President without being a mayor of any town!

Please explain

November 15th, 2009
3:54 pm

Kasim, please explain how you expect us to believe you will fight for the average citizen in Atlanta, when you defend organizations such as Cracker Barrel in discrimination against the average citizen.