Snellville mayor, council bickering continues

SNELLVILLE -- About the only thing the Snellville mayor and city council could agree on Monday night was the sale of beer growlers in the city limits, to which they voted in favor of unanimously.

Nearly everything else could be described by how the group has acted for most of the last year: bickering, name-calling and 4-2 votes.

Only minutes into the regular business and public hearing, Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts and Councilman Dave Emanuel disagreed with Mayor Kelly Kautz about if they could amend the agenda to the meeting.

"Why does this have to be like this," Witts said. "Why do you have to bully?"

Kautz replied, "I think the only bully is you."

Five days after they held a specially called meeting about whether the mayor had the power to dismiss city attorney Tony Powell, the arguments were rehashed and opinions repeated. That issue is part of pending litigation after Kautz filed a lawsuit last week with a Superior Court judge. A hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

Kautz and Councilman Mike Sabbagh were the only dissenting votes on a series of ordinances and resolutions to establish confidence in Powell, who Kautz dismissed last month without notice of the Council.

Witts, Emanuel and Council members Bobby Howard and Diane Krause voted in favor of confidence in Powell as city attorney.

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.

Government watchdog George Anderson made several public statements during the meeting. Anderson, a Rome resident and former director of the recently dissolved Ethics in Government Group, has lodged ethics complaints against Witts, and last month was sued by the city because of what Powell called, "political attacks that had nothing to do with ethics."

Before his allotted time expired on Monday, Anderson requested that the mayor and council dismiss the lawsuit against him.

Another ethics complaint also returned to discussion by Emanuel about Sabbagh that was filed by Russ Nuspliger, who represents Gwinnett Ethics, a nonprofit.

The Council voted 5-1 (Kautz dissented, Sabbagh abstained) to postpone action on the issue until the March 11 meeting so more information could be gathered to address the complaint, Emanuel said.

The complaint is about Sabbagh's behavior at a Marietta City Council meeting where he supported a friend who was building an 8,000-square-foot wedding hall.

Also at the meeting, Sabbagh withdrew a proposed resolution for action about the lower Johnson Lake Dam issue near the Summit Chase community, which has been an issue for the city since 2010. Sabbagh said in a work session before the council meeting that what city manager Butch Sanders prepared as an option wasn't what Sabbagh asked for.

At issue is a now-waterless portion of the lower Johnson Lake area, the aging dam and the failing pipework that goes under a roadway to enter the subdivision.

Also withdrawn at the meeting was a proposal by Kautz to take action on a resolution to ask the General Assembly to support changes to the city's charter.

As one of a parade of residents and community members to address the mayor and council, Jamie Dempsey of the Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce voiced what he said were comments he's heard from business owners and residents who are concerned about "arbitrary decisions" made by the city's elected leaders.

"They don't necessarily vote at the polling place," Dempsey said. "But they vote with their dollars, and they vote whether to keep their business in Snellville."

Also at the meeting, the city's parks department was recognized for a Best of Gwinnett award for last year's Snellville Days festival. There was a first reading on an ordinance to allow the serving of wine in an art shop. And the council confirmed Kautz' nomination of Jack Poles for the Downtown Development Authority Board. Witts was also re-elected Mayor Pro Tem in a vote where Kautz was the only dissension.


JustAnotherCitizen 2 years, 7 months ago

Why is our city wasting money on a lawsuit against Anderson? They may not like his comments but that doesn't mean they can waste our money to shut him up.


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