(Editor's Note: This article was originally published January 09, 2012.)
In October, Councilman Mike Sabbagh stood before the Marietta City Council in solidarity with an embattled real estate investor.
The city wanted Waleed "Lee" Jaraysi to tear down his wedding hall, after officials discovered that it was 24,000 square feet instead of the permitted 8,000 square feet.
And, now the Snellville City Council is poised to vote at its Jan. 9 meeting on a resolution to open an investigation into Sabbagh's appearance. At the Marietta meeting, Sabbagh asked the city to change its mind regarding Jaraysi's so-called "eyesore."
Sabbagh's Marietta Appearance
"If it gets demolished, it is not good for you, the citizens or Mr. Jaraysi, because remember the land is still his, and he may re-erect another building, and it may be at the same stage one more time that you all may end up saying demolish that, too," said Sabbagh at the Marietta City Council meeting.
He added that his friend Jaraysi also had the funds to finish the building, but that time was a factor. And, that Jaraysi had not stopped paying taxes on the site, to his knowledge.
Sabbagh also mentioned that he was a professor at Marietta's Southern Polytechnic State University. In addition, he said that he did not like the national turn the case had taken, prompting the attention of Washington, D.C.-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
"I bet you a dime to a dollar if this goes on the Al Jazeera community is going to find out about this, and I'm not going to go into anymore about that," Sabbagh said.
At the end of Sabbagh's comments, Marietta Councilman James King said that Sabbagh had promised to put the needed funds for construction of the facility into an escrow account and to make it available. At the time, Sabbagh had not yet done that.
Immediately following Sabbagh's appearance, some Snellville citizens began questioning the councilman's remarks, including those that he was a professor at a local college.
Asked in October, Sabbagh told Patch that he was an adjunct professor.
Still, some Snellville Council members believe Sabbagh violated the city's conflicts of interest and ethics policies during his appearance. And, that is the reason for the request for an investigation.
Snellville city Councilman Dave Emanuel would not comment regarding the specific concerns that prompted the request.
"As you know, confidentiality, integrity and fairness are (or should be) the guiding considerations in the handling of investigations of any type," he said in a recent email response. "These considerations are especially important prior to the conclusion of any investigation.
"It is my intention to do everything possible to assure that all actions of the City Council are handled with the utmost of integrity, and fairness.
"Consequently, in fulfilling my fiduciary responsibility of serving the best interests of our citizens, I believe it is inappropriate to comment on the investigation into councilman Sabbagh."
Councilman Bobby Howard, who plans to bring the agenda item before council on Monday, did not return an email or telephone message.
If the resolution is passed, the council would compensate Judge Mark Layng for the investigation with the normal fee paid to the city's attorney. The judge would then provide a report of his findings and any recommendations for sanctions or penalties.
Sabbagh would also have a chance to defend himself against the findings, if warranted.
Reached last week, Sabbagh said that any investigation conducted by the city should not be political in nature, but based on rules and regulations.
"I continue to believe in an honest an open government, where every elected official is accountable to his or her constituencies," he said. "Any investigation should be consistent with the city code and charter and based on the rule of law; not politics.
"I have always served the citizens and the city with honor and dignity and do intend to continue serving this great city now and through this process."