Atlanta City Council wants to know who paid secret settlement?

Image 1 of 3

Atlanta City Council members want answers regarding a 2016 secret settlement with a fired airport executive and then-Mayor Kasim Reed.

The settlement, obtained by the FOX 5 I-Team, shows someone paid fired airport General Manager Miquel Southwell nearly $150,000.

Neither the Atlanta City Council nor the public were told.

“The worst part of this is keeping the governing body of the city in the dark and the public not knowing what happened,” said City Council president Felicia Moore.

City Council President Felicia Moore and Councilman Andre Dickens were stunned to learn back in 2016 Mayor Kasim Reed authorized a secret settlement with fired airport General Manager Miquel Southwell.

“I don't know if it is illegal or not, I definitely know it is inappropriate,” said city council member Andre Dickens.

FOX 5 I-Team was there when it all began back in June of 2016. An angry Mayor Kasim Reed lashed out at Miquel Southwell, the airport general manager Reed says he fired.

Southwell had threatened to sue and his lawyer suggested Reed interfered with airport contracts.

Later, a settlement was reached and both men disavowed their earlier allegations of wrongdoing. No one would say what the terms of the settlement were.

“He's going to end up losing at the end of the day, Reed said back in 2016.

Well, apparently not. According to documents obtained under the Open Records Act, it is clear Mayor Reed authorized a secret $147,333 payment with Southwell.

City council, which had approved $85,516 for Southwell's health care and job counseling, had no idea about the extra nearly $150,000 payout.

“I had no idea (who made the payment) I didn't know the payment was being made. Everybody's interested in knowing where the money came from,” said Moore.

In settlement emails, lawyers for both sides mention one man - Scott Taylor. Southwell's lawyer wrote at one point, "Scott Taylor now wants a contract that absolves him from payment."

There is a Scott Taylor who is CEO of Carter real estate company. Carter, a Mayor Reed campaign supporter, is helping to master develop the area Turner Field and to master develop a hotel at the airport.

A Carter Real Estate spokesperson wrote to say "It’s no secret that we engaged Miguel Southwell after careful vetting to join an ongoing effort with other consultants to pursue work at airports outside of Georgia around the U.S."  He adds Taylor "did not know about nor was he involved in any discussions or negotiations concerning any settlement with the city"

“The public wants to know where their money is going. They did not, just as the council did not,” said Dickens.

The council discussed this and other sensitive issues in executive session on Monday for more than two and a half hours.

Sources say they still don’t know exactly who made the payments or why.