Snellville mayor, council squabble over reach of power

Kelly Kautz

Kelly Kautz

SNELLVILLE -- A spirited and contentious specially called meeting of the Snellville City Council on Wednesday ended predictably for those who have followed the group in recent months. Division among the mayor and Council members is very much alive.

In a series of events that began with a 4:30 p.m. press conference called by Mayor Kelly Kautz, and ended about four hours later at the close of the meeting, the day could be summarized in one of Kautz' statements during the meeting.

"Can we all agree to disagree?"

With Councilman Mike Sabbagh out of town on business, a series of motions and resolutions to establish confidence in attorney Tony Powell were decided by a 4-1 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts and Council members Bobby Howard, Diane Krause and Dave Emanuel voted in favor of Powell as city attorney, and responsible for duties related to the job description, while Mayor Kelly Kautz voted against each action.

Last month, Kautz dismissed Powell as city attorney in part because of what she said were monthly legal fees that were over budget last fall. Kautz also said Powell has pushed for lawsuits instead of giving opinions on city matters. This is the fourth time since Kautz was elected in 2010 that she and a majority of the council have disagreed on a city attorney choice, and the second time Powell has lost his job.

But if Powell lost his job at all was a bone of contention throughout the day.

Also on Wednesday, Kautz asked a Superior Court Judge for an injunction against the Council to take votes at the meeting. But Kautz withdrew her request for a declaratory judgment against the majority of council about the meeting because she said Judge Timothy Hamil wasn't inclined to stop a public meeting with elected officials.

Kautz said Hamil instructed the parties to schedule a hearing date for the issue to be settled, which should be within the next 20 days.

Before the meeting began, Powell and Kautz had a disagreement about Powell sitting alongisde the Council members. After a discussion among the Council, Powell eventually sat in the first row of the audience.

Seated next to him were Karen Woodward and Nola Jackson of the law firm Cruser and Mitchell, who Kautz has appointed as interim city attorneys.

Woodward said her firm was hired to assist with a lawsuit involving resident Marilyn Swinney, who alleged that her civil rights were violated by Kautz in July. Witts confirmed that the lawsuit was settled for $15,000.

At the outset of the meeting, Kautz, Witts and Powell couldn't agree if proper notice of the meeting was established, especially about whether Sabbagh was properly notified. Witts said he left Sabbagh seven voicemails.

As Kautz called the meeting to order "under protest," she motioned to Woodward, who said, "I'm not sure what you want to call my status," before it was eventually clarified as interim city attorney.

The debate reached such a level that Kautz granted two recesses, including one where Kautz said, "we will reconvene at a later date." The meeting then resumed in about five minutes.

Witts and Howard were labeled "out of order" more than once during the meeting, and Howard replied after one exchange, "I have been there all night, I've got no problem with that," he said, which drew applause from the crowd.

The Council meets on Monday for a regularly scheduled meeting.


R 2 years, 6 months ago

One just has to ask this,

Are the interim attorneys paid fees by the hour to attend these spectacles?

Strange, but it does offer homage of sorts to the area’s British roots. The brouhaha began over legal fees being over budget, so of course the way to cut those expenses going forward is by approaching the courts for summary judgments and additional hearing dates. A page taken straight out of Gwinnett County BOC playbook….

Man, this stuff needs to be broadcast on Spike or WWE …

Snellville we're missing a REAL revenue stream opportunity here. You CHARGE a fee to attend, not PAY lawyers to attend. Personal seat licenses seem strangely appropriate; just call them the “Blank" Pass.


jack 2 years, 6 months ago

The city should purchase a calliope.


kevin 2 years, 6 months ago

when is this city going to lose its Chicago nickname?


BrendaLee 2 years, 6 months ago

This YouTube link is of the first salvos fired at last night's meeting. Kautz wouldn't allow City Attorney Tony Powell to sit on the dais. Pay particular attention to the body language of the people in the video.


PB 2 years, 6 months ago

The Mayor asked for peace. She can't see through all the obstabcles that she creates that she is the only one that is creating the upset. It truly is a sight to watch her in action. She talks and talks and talks, not allowing questions or people to finish sentences, overruling anything that is contrary to her hallowed opinion. And then she can sit there with a straight face and say she is being bullied and she just wants everyone to work together. Honestly, I believe that some medication is in order.


kevin 2 years, 6 months ago

She runs the place like it's a hick-town.


BuzzG 2 years, 6 months ago

She has Obama's style. A dictator at heart.


SurelyNot 2 years, 6 months ago

Living in unincorporated GC but with a Snellville mailing address, I find this whole situation of Snellville politics to be an unbelievable embarrassment. Is there a way to change your address when you live so close to other towns? I could easily go to L'ville PO. Maybe if our entire neighborhood worked together? I hate it when someone says, "You live in Snellville, right?"


rocknroll 2 years, 6 months ago

So this is the same mayor who cut off a person trying to speak at a meeting. That wound up getting on all the Atlanta tv stations when it happened and last week when the city announced a $15,000 cost for settling a free speech lawsuit. Lord only knows how much she has cost the city by giving it a bad name. Now she's back yelling and screaming and giving the city a bad name again. Probably not gonna change until she gets kicked out. Look at the video. She acts like a spoiled little child who isn't getting her own way. This woman has serious psychological problems.


NewsReader 2 years, 6 months ago

I was just wondering...can you guys stream this for all of us. I could go get some popcorn, we could start a Snellville Drama Club, and watch hysterically as the drama unfolds during each and every episode. This whole power struggle is great entertainment.


kevin 2 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the AG should be investigating this Mayor for corruption.


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