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Mayor Fires City Attorney Tony Powell...Again

After nearly a year back on the job, Mayor Kautz is removing City Attorney Tony Powell from his position.

Mayor Kelly Kautz has fired City Attorney Tony Powell. 

In a Dec. 13 email, she told Powell that "after much thought and deliberation, pursuant to my powers granted to me by the Charter of the City of Snellville as Mayor, effective December 13, 2012, I have appointed a new City Attorney, Cruser and Mitchell. This is a decision that I have thought long and hard over. It is not based on personalities but rather what I feel is in the best interest of the City."

Kautz asserts that the relationship between Powell and the City is "irretrievably broken," and that there is "an irreparable breach of trust and communication with [Powell] and all the members of Council and City staff."

An example of her mistrust of Powell is that she did not know he filed a lawsuit against ethics watchdog George Anderson until she read it in media reports, nor did she or the council receive copies of it. 

Among other allegations, she claims that his work has become "subpar." 

"Several factors influenced my decision," she said in an email to Snellville Patch. "The biggest factor is that the City has consistently been over its monthly budget for legal fees after receiving bills for approximately $14,000 for August work, $17,000 for October work and $23,000 for November work. Given the current economic times and my stewardship of the city budget, I feel it is in the best interest of the City and the taxpayers to conduct a search for a new city attorney."

Powell is fighting the termination and believes that only the City Council has the right to terminate his appointment. 

"I am the City Attorney and I plan to continue in that capacity until removed by the City Council or I choose to resign the position," Powell said in an email. "Any attempt by that law firm [Cruser and Mitchell] to act on behalf of the City is unauthorized and illegal. I will expeditiously move forward to resolve any questions concerning my position and appointment, but in the interim, they should be duly informed of that they have no actual position or authority."

He believes that her original email was written and published to "maliciously defame" him. He has threatened to file a defamation suit. 

Councilman Dave Emanuel said in response to the situation that Kautz is simply looking for a reason to get rid of Powell because "he's not doing what she wants him to do from her personal standpoint." 

The last time that Powell was fired and then re-hired, Kautz said that "there's no secret that I did not want Tony. Tony and I had our own issues." 

The mayor believed -- and still does -- that there are likely conflicts of interest because Powell serves as a councilman in Lawrenceville.

While the city looked for a replacement for Powell last time, Stuart Oberman filled in as the temporary city attorney. He resigned in February after trying and failing to get paid for months, as previously reported by Snellville Patch. Oberman was finally paid in March to the chagrine of some council members who were still concerned about the costs and the quality of the attorney's work.

In another twist, Powell was hired as the sole attorney for the city council -- a unique move highlighting the lack of trust between some council members and the mayor.

Powell was originally appointed by former mayor Jerry Oberholtzer

Snellville Patch will provide more information as it is made available. 

(Editor's note: due to the alleged defamatory nature of the email to Powell, Snellville Patch will not be publishing the letters in full.) 

Josh December 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Too bad we can just fire the Mayor on a whim.
Josh December 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Too bad we can't just fire the Mayor on a whim
Josh December 19, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Can't *
Kenneth Stepp December 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Another personal agenda driven embarrassment by the "Out Of Order" mayor. The city is stuck with her till 2015. Unless she can be removed. I stay close to the political heartbeat of Gwinnett County, and she is the most self important elected official I have ever seen.
Kenneth Stepp December 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I will be posting the insane letter she wrote to Mr Powell on my blog later today. It's about what you'd expect from her.
Brenda Lee December 19, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Good, I was going to file an open records request myself. Did you get Mr. Powell's response as well?
Jamie Dempsey December 19, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Ken- please either email me a copy or post a link on my FaceBook- several local businesses have inquired about this, and I'd like to make sure I can give them accurate information. Also, Merry Christmas to you all!
Kenneth Stepp December 19, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Brenda. Yes. Jamie, I plan on posting the story with my response, letters and all on my Gwinnett Ethics blog. I'll send you the link through Facebook when I do. There is more info coming out about the Anderson case as well. Probably make that a different post, even though the same crowd is involved. I'm of the opinion that the mayor and some of her friends have damaged the city financially and it's reputation for very personal reasons. And I think I will be able to prove it soon.
Adrienne Levesque December 19, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Mr. Powell's response accurately pointed out that the Mayor cannot legally fire him. The council has to collectively move on such an action. He also pointed out that if she had the new firm hired and working as the city attorney, she would be legally out of order AGAIN. Additionally, I think the mayor should be called out in a major way for the slanderous misstatements she made about Tony and his practices. She misrepresented (as she often does) the truth and should be held accountable for her lack of professional decorum, her open disregard for proper procedure, and her continued malicious attempts to rule the city outside of her legal power.
Brenda Lee December 19, 2012 at 03:29 PM
So if another firm shows up, will they get paid? Kautz appears to be using the city cofers to fund her legal opinions, which seem to be contrary to most of her peers.
hazybuck December 19, 2012 at 04:39 PM
How can we call for an emergency vote to replace or disband our city council members? So far, I've not heard one thing that anyone's done that's in the best interest of our city. All of this infighting is ridiculous - it's like they're in middle school.
Jerome Williams December 19, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I been telling everybody and telling everybody for long time this mayor is no good person. She cause all kind problems. Now she want to fire the attorney man because sh say he dont do good work so how come she hire him in the first place. You hazybuck person you dont say stuff that make sense, Council people dont do bad stuff only the mayor always doing bad stuff. She make all this bad stuff happen dont do no good for people in snellville.
Crystal Huskey (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Hazybuck, although stories like this get a lot of attention, there actually has been a lot more done in the interest of the city, by all members of the council, than not. Here's a few: http://snellville.patch.com/articles/moment-of-silence-in-snellville-for-newtown-conn-victims http://snellville.patch.com/articles/bricks-for-the-veterans-memorial-now-on-sale http://snellville.patch.com/articles/summer-2012-in-snellville http://snellville.patch.com/articles/council-mayor-unite-to-save-parkwood-farms
Michelle Couch December 19, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Crystal, thanks for providing the links to some of the positives for the City. hazybuck - the majority of the City Council are fine individuals who go beyond the call of duty as Council Members. I would hate to think of what Snellville would become without them; and worse, what would happen if they weren't on Council to "try" and keep the Mayor from abusing her power even further. It seems as if the Mayor cannot possibly care about her City for the right reasons; she proves this point, time and time again. It's truly tragic.
Darla Dixon December 20, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Soap opera drama attention seeking behavior.

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