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Snellville back to original attorney after months of conflict

SNELLVILLE -- Less than six months and two city attorneys later, Tony Powell is back as the lead lawyer for the city of Snellville.

Mayor Kelly Kautz said she made the decision a few days ago, after a long discussion with Powell about potential conflicts with his role as a Lawrenceville councilman.

Kautz said Powell's support of Barbara Bender, her competitor in last year's mayoral campaign, did not play a role in his firing late last year, but after conflicts with the council over the city attorney since her arrival in office, she said she decided to reappoint him city attorney to provide some stability for the city.

"I do think this is the best decision for the city at this time," she said. "It's best for our city to focus on legal matters and not have to build relationships."

The move comes just a month after the council unanimously approved the naming of Kevin Tallant as city attorney, after months of conflicts over Kautz's first pick, Stuart Oberman.

In recent days, Kautz said she learned that Tallant was not able to handle real estate transactions and had been hesitant to share information because of troubled relationships among the city council.

Since the city council had hired Powell to represent them in city matters -- bringing a second lawyer's expense -- and Powell continued to work on real estate matters, Kautz said her move would cut about $2,000 a month in expenses.

The decision also helps provide stability, with the recent departure of Russell Treadway as the city manager, she added.

Kautz said she had hoped the move, along with recent apologies to council members, would help to smooth public rifts that have plagued her tenure.

But on Friday, an anonymous press release contained harsh words from an unnamed city council member: "This whole situation is absolutely unbelievable. The mayor has created tremendous problems for the council and burned up a lot of taxpayer money with her City Attorney games. I'll make a formal statement next week, but for now, I just want Mr. Tallant to know that many council members offer their apologies for the shoddy and unprofessional way he was treated. This is an embarrassment and not the way the city of Snellville should operate."

A message left for Powell late Friday afternoon was not immediately returned.

Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts said he didn't appreciate learning about the change until after it was complete.

"I'm glad to see Tony back," he added. "Had he not been let go in November, it would have saved a lot of grief."

Comments

citized 2 years, 5 months ago

does this mean he will return all money we paid for lawsuit???

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MissDaisyCook 2 years, 5 months ago

Clearly a conflict. A Lawrenceville City Councilman; and an avowed, hard-core, not-open minded, anti-airportist. He would like to see Briscoe just disappear, but since that cannot happen he is opposed to any airport progress that might benefit the whole county. What happens when an issue arises between Lawrenceville and Snellville; which fiduciary duty does he go with? The one that is most benficial to him; not his client or constituents.

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WantingFacts 2 years, 5 months ago

Why is it that anyone opposed to the airport is not open minded? If those of you who are for 737s at Briscoe are so open minded, why won't you answer any questions about why the taxpayers should be forced to assume the risk for this "privatized" venture? Since no airport has ever been successfully privatized under this program, why should we take this risk now? The same people who sold us the Braves Stadium, Collins Hill Gold Course and the trash plan are the same ones pushing this folly. Where are your facts about how this will raise home values? Where are your facts about how this will not have any impact on the schools in the immediate area of the airport? Where are your facts about how soundproofing in homes are considered home improvements? Where are your facts that a commercial airport is more beneficial to home values than the apartments that Paula Hastings is so worried about?

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DaveEmanuel 2 years, 5 months ago

I see some SWILs are at work here, attempting to discredit an outstanding attorney with proven integrity while hiding behind a veneer of made up names. For those of you who are ethically unenlightened, on the off chance that a conflict should arise, Mr. Powell would recuse himself from the issue and the city would be served by another attorney. If "MissDaisyCook" is truly concerned about Mr/ Powell's choice of fiduciary duty, I suggest she or he contact me, and I'll arrange a meeting with Mr. Powell so that he/she can discuss his/her concerns in person. As a member of the Snellville City Council, I have a bit of perspective on what seems to be the never-ending saga of "Adventures in City Attorney Land". Mr. Powell served the best interests of Snellville's citizens in the past, and I have no doubt that he will do so in the future. Mr. Powell is not the issue here, rather it's the turmoil caused when the music stops and the game being played is "Musical City Attorneys".

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WantingFacts 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you Dave. Just because Tony Powell is opposed to 737s at Briscoe, his ethical standards are attacked. Can someone please explain any REAL ethical complaints against Tony? I have never heard any that were credible. Once again, those who support forcing taxpayers to bear the responsibility of operating a commercial airport in the event that it fails, will not explain their position. If history is any indicator, the odds of failure are very high. Because those who support 737s at Briscoe do not have any real facts on their side and refuse to answer questions from concerned taxpayers, they attack those who are concerned about taxpayer liability and threats to home values and quality of life. None of the questions have been answered. Instead of attacking Tony, does MissDaisyCook care to answer questions about the claimed 20,000 jobs, or how home values will be increased, or why soundproofing is a home improvement, or why Propeller can make this a success when no one else ever has and Propeller has no experience operating an airport ?

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SnellvilleTod 2 years, 5 months ago

This article isn't about Tony and Briscoe expansion. It is about a Mayor bringing in a new / old City Attorney because the "unbiased" attorney that she selected had the audacity to say the City Council could change the city charter by majority vote and not have to go before the State legislature. Mr. Powell had informed Snellville City Council last year that the Charter changes that were enacted at the behest of former Councilman Auld and Garraway were improper. Last year Council acted to reverse the changes giving the Mayor back the power to appoint and/or nominate..At that time Kautz disagreed with giving powers back to the Mayor. Now that SHE is Mayor, she brings in the guy she disagreed with last year in order to preserve her power.

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Bobbyhoward 2 years, 5 months ago

Snellville City Council Member Bobby Howard weighs in on recent firing of "NEW" City Attorney.

Shock and Disbelief. Those are the first two words spoken by Snellville City Councilman Bobby Howard when asked about his reaction to the news that Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz had fired City Attorney Kevin Tallant. A partner in the highly regarded law firm of Miles, Patterson, Hansford and Tallant, Mr. Tallant had served as Snellville's City Attorney for just over 30 days. With no prior discussion with members of Council, or even a courtesy call, a "Dear John" email from Mayor Kautz was all that Mr. Tallant received to advise him that he had been replaced. Howard stated, "I am deeply disturbed by the single-handed actions of our Mayor. The way she treated Mr. Tallant and his firm is reprehensible. Mr. Tallant and members of his firm exhibited nothing but competence, professionalism and first class business approach to representing our city.”

Mr. Howard added his perspective on the situation noting, "The reasons for this decision in my opinion are tainted with ridiculous and nonsensical assertions. Kautz suggests that the expense of having two law firms handling different aspects of the city's legal work cost more money than having it all done by a single firm. In fact, the combination of the two was significantly less than the amount charged by the previous attorney (Stuart Oberman) who was less than qualified, and who billed the city at a ridiculous rate for legal services that were sub-standard. The fact is that regardless of the number of firms, the city will only be billed for the legal work performed." And as a matter of fact, Mr. Powell’s firm was also doing on-going real estate legal work while Mr. Oberman was the City Attorney. That fact conveniently left out by the Mayor. Howard also questioned the mayor's statement about her decision being motivated by a desire to save taxpayer money. As he explains it, "To hear the mayor say she wants to "save taxpayer" money is a joke at best. Where was her desire to save taxpayer money when she went behind the council's back and authorized full payment of Stuart Oberman's bill, knowing that a number of us had serious objections to paying that bill, considering the extremely high amounts charged for low quality work. Some of that work had to be redone at; you guessed it, taxpayer expense. Where's the concern for the Snellville Taxpayer.....nowhere to be seen!"

See continuation below::::

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Bobbyhoward 2 years, 5 months ago

In the letter to Mr. Tallant the Mayor states she "did not foresee the city manager leaving". In fact, she made a public comment on Feb. 7 about Mr. Treadway leaving and we did not receive the "Proposal for Legal Services" from Mr. Tallant until Feb.10, 2012. And even more spectacular is the fact that we didn't receive his firm's engagement letter March 5, 2012. The Mayor clearly knew Russell Treadway was leaving a full month before Mr. Tallant was hired.

I am glad to welcome back Tony Powell and the firm Webb, Tanner, Powell, Mertz & Wilson to represent the city as a whole. Powell is the same guy she fired for what I can see as no other reason than he supported her opponent during the campaign, (Council meeting video will confirm this). I do hope we can move forward…… our city deserves it!

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