Snellville’s two-day strategic planning retreat lasted 12 minutes.
Friday’s session quickly erupted into a fight between the mayor and city council, who are currently embroiled in a lawsuit.
“This is a waste of time,” Councilwoman Barbara Bender said, after numerous attempts from council members to make motions and establish the agenda.
With contention lingering for the entire month of January over Mayor Kelly Kautz refusing to recognize the city manager’s contract and naming a new city clerk without council approval, council members rejected rules proposed earlier this week by Kautz that would have kept the staff — including those key players — out of the discussion. That caused the cancellation of a facilitator from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute for the retreat.
But the council’s attempt to name a new facilitator at the outset of Friday’s meeting was over-ridden several times, with Kautz calling councilmembers out of order when they attempted to make a motion.
Before the fighting had ended, the council voted to “vacate the chair,” meaning Kautz would no longer have control of the meeting, and Kautz asked the police chief to escort council members away.
“The point of the moderator is to give everyone an honest and equal part,” Councilman Dave Emanuel said after the session.
Council members had hoped to have Buddy Scott, a local businessman with experience as a facilitator, fill that role. But while Kautz said she believed Scott would be objective, she said his role as moderator would be a conflict of interest because he chairs the city’s Downtown Development Authority.
While the meeting never reached that point, Scott shared proposed rules afterward that mostly reflected Kautz’s proposal, including no discussion of the mayor’s and council’s roles involving appointment of the city manager, city clerk or city attorney or the people currently in those rules. The most notable difference was that the city staff would be allowed to participate in the discussion.
Kautz, who tried to recognize the city’s planning director, after calling council members and City Manager Butch Sanders out of order, said she came to the retreat with good intentions. She said she brought donuts as a peace offering and invited councilmembers to sit at a round table as a symbol that “all of us are equal.”
“I wanted us to come together because we do have the same priorities,” Kautz said, but added that council members had pre-written motions to open the meeting. “That showed they had no intention to work with me. … They want to hijack my position as mayor.”
But councilmembers said the mayor showed herself unwilling to to allow discussion by failing to recognize people to speak, even as they tried to follow Robert’s Rules of Order.
“You have pressed my buttons, lady,” Councilwoman Diane Krause said, confronting Kautz after the adjournment, a vote the mayor tried to echo after Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts had taken control of the meeting.
“You waste more taxpayer money and time than anyone would ever know,” Krause said.
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Snellville’s strategic planning retreat
Snellville’s two-day strategic planning retreat was cut short when arguments began between the mayor and city council (RAW VIDEO)