SNELLVILLE -- A short-lived but controversial tenure came to an end Monday night for Snellville City Attorney Stuart Oberman, his resignation made public on a night when Mayor Kelly Kautz called the city council "not willing to work to move our city forward."
Oberman's resignation comes just a few short months after Kautz appointed him in November, amid dissension over his billings to the city and a few weeks after the council decided to appoint its own attorney. While Kautz took Monday night's city council meeting to wish him luck in his future endeavors -- "hopefully they won't be pro bono like this has been" -- Councilman Dave Emanuel tried to explain he and his colleagues' actions in not paying for his billed services.
He called the issue one of "quality and accuracy."
"I don't think it's proper for the city to pay for services that were either incomplete," Emanuel said, "or with one opinion put forth on one occasion and the contrary opinion put forth on another occasion."
Four council members voted earlier this month to retain separate legal counsel in the form of former City Attorney Tony Powell, a move Kautz has said is fraught with conflict of interest. She said she offered to make Powell's firm Snellville's official partner as long as Powell himself was not voted in, but to no avail.
Powell was at Monday's meeting, but slipped out after Kautz removed a scheduled discussion regarding the city attorney situation from the agenda.
In the meantime, the mayor said she had narrowed down her search for a new city attorney to two candidate firms, and hoped to make a decision in the coming days. She said neither firm is based in Gwinnett or has "any political connections."
"To be honest with you," she said, "either firm would be an asset to our city."
During Monday's meeting, Kautz also made formal nominations for positions on the Board of Appeals (John Mitchell) and Planning Commission (Dexter Harrison). Councilman Mike Sabbagh made each motion but no other council member would second either one, leaving both nominations dead in the water.
"It became apparent tonight ... that regardless of what appointments I would put up, that this council is not willing to work to move our city forward," Kautz said in her closing comments. "Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Harrison are fine, outstanding citizens. They would have served our boards well."