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Snellville council appoints new city attorney

SNELLVILLE -- City council members followed Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer's recommendation Monday to appoint Tony Powell as the new city attorney.

Powell, formerly Lawrenceville's city attorney, replaces Mike Williams in Snellville. Williams was not re-appointed by council as the result of miscalculating the number of days legally required between the call for a Sunday alcohol sales referendum and the vote deciding the same.

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz was the only council member to vote against Powell's appointment, not because of a lack of confidence in his ability, but because she charged that city procedure was not followed. The councilwoman, an attorney herself, said that she did not know that Williams would not be re-appointed until Thursday.

Kautz said Monday that the city should have solicited sealed bids for city attorney and not rushed to appoint a new one without following procedure.

Councilman Mike Sabbagh said he met with Powell and liked him very much, trusting completely in his ability to fulfill the needs of the position of city attorney. In light of Kautz's remarks, Sabbagh asked too that the decision be postponed until council could review the councilwoman's remarks about city policy.

Oberholtzer said that Powell's fees had been reviewed and "they seem reasonable."

Powell took his seat alongside Oberholtzer immediately following the 5-1 vote approving the appointment.

Sparks fly in spite of early council talk about harmony

Some Snellville council members were seething Monday night, a fact that became apparent near the end of the council meeting when leaders are allowed to speak freely during their reports.

Mayor pro tem Barbara Bender (who was appointed for another term Monday) and councilman Tom Witts publicly challenged some remarks made by Kautz during the Dec. 14 council meeting in which council voted to allow Sunday sales of alcohol.

During that meeting, Kautz stated that any of her colleagues who voted to allow Sunday sales of alcohol would be committing "malfeasance" and would be "violating their oath of office."

Bender remarked that, no matter what the judge's Jan. 27 decision on the matter might be, there was no malfeasance on the part of any council member. She further charged that Kautz's remarks questioned her integrity and might have left residents "with the idea there was wrongdoing."

Witts said Monday that Kautz's December remarks "are very serious allegations ... of criminal intent." As for Kautz's statement that she did not know Williams would not be re-appointed, Witts called her "arrogant" and said she makes "false statements."

Kautz stated Monday that, while Witts demanded a public apology for her remarks in a Dec. 28 e-mail, an apology from her would not be forthcoming.