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Mayor Kautz: 'You're Out of Order'

A tense moment during Monday's Snellville city council meeting has raised eyebrows, including those of CBS Atlanta.

(Update July 28, 2:39 p.m.:  )  

On Monday, July 23, Snellville city council met for their regularly scheduled council meeting.  Things got out of hand, however, during the public comments portion of the evening, when Snellville resident Marilyn Swinney approached the council. 

CBS Atlanta's Tough Questions aired the story today at 4 p.m., with a number of re-runs aired later in the afternoon.  

Mayor Kautz spoke with Snellville Patch about the incident earlier today.  She and Swinney have a long, difficult history, according to Kautz, one that includes name calling and intense moments during council meetings.

When Swinney came to the podium, Kautz said she "knew where it was going."

"I asked for the mike to be turned off so that she would listen to me," she said.  "I reminded her of our personal decorum policy, and then had the mike turned back on."

This can be seen in the video. 

There have been instances in the past where members of the public have made comments about council members, including the Mayor, that were not in line with the public decorum policy, yet they have been allowed to continue. 

In one instance, a citizen called councilman Tom Witts a "liar" and "cheat." 

"Should I have enforced it a lot sooner?" Kautz asked. "Probably."

Kautz determined to enforce the policy when she found out that George Anderson, against councilman Tom Witts, would make public comment in a future meeting.

Kautz sent Anderson a letter outlining their public decorum policy (see attached), and assured the council that she would enforce it.  

So what was the source of all the sound and fury?  According to a video taken during the meeting, Marilyn Swinney approached the council to discuss an issue that came up during the last meeting.

"I missed the last council meeting but I watched the tape," she began.  "I was kind of surprised by your mayor's report.  You stated that you..."

At that point, she was interrupted by Mayor Kelly Kautz, who asserted that Swinney was "out of order."  She then requested that Swinney's microphone be turned off.  

"Personal attacks against a member of council are not acceptable," Kautz responded, "so if you want to say something for public comment, we'll continue, but you're out of order on the path you are going." 

When Swinney's microphone was turned back on, she continued, saying, "I feel that we do not have leadership.  And if we don't have leadership, we will never have a council that works together.  

"I feel the leadership that you think you have here in Snellville is not adequate.  I suggest the leader of Snellville take the necessary steps to look within and find some leadership techniques, whether it's seminars, books, whatever.  Thank you."

after the council meeting, which he shared with Snellville Patch.   

Who do you think was out of order?  Should Swinney have been allowed to continue, or was the Mayor right in her assessment of the public decorum policy?  Tell us in the comments. 

Trish Gates July 27, 2012 at 10:48 PM
I wish I would have been there!
Dave Emanuel July 27, 2012 at 11:17 PM
As regular readers of Patch might suspect, I'll have a blog post to address this subject more thoroughly. Until then, I'd like readers to consider the following. Kautz is trying to justify her actions by saying she called Ms. Swinney out of order and had her microphone turned off because she THOUGHT Ms. Swinney was going to make a personal attack. That's like trying to justify shooting someone because you THOUGHT he was going to attack you. Neither defense is legitimate.
Grant July 28, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Lame excuses and attempts to convince the citizens that she has psychic powers are indicative of the continued failure to operate with the basic human skills and within the requirements of the office she holds. Kautz should issue a public apology and an invitation to the poor woman whose opportunity to voice her opinion (at the appropriate and designated time) to speak , uninterrupted , at the next meeting. Public officials will always receive criticism , those that refuse to hear it are those that will ignore that same public they are elected to represent> You have embarrassed yourself , the people of Snellville and the office you hold Mayor Kautz. Shame on you !
Marian Copeland July 28, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Does anyone with an IQ over 45 really believe that Mrs Kautz did what she did so she could protect Mr Witts at the next meeting. Can anyone who reads patch believe that she would protect Tom in any way, shape or form. He is everything she is not. Show us one video of your alleged "previous run ins at meetings" with Mrs Swinney, just one.You picked on the wrong person this time, no one will ever believe your lies again. Thank you for revealing just how low you will stoop to lie your way out a situation. Shame on you, and shame on those who have believied your lies for as long as they have. Mare
Darla Dixon July 28, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I don't know how our mayor stays in office with this childish behavior. I've watched other cities' council meetings on YouTube and they are able to conduct meetings in a professional manner. This is an embarrassment to the city.
Gary July 28, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I have been ashamed of the behavior of our city leaders for several years now. It seems they seldom put the needs of the citizens of Snellville first. They just want to argue.
Tom Witts July 28, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I will not allow Mayor Kautz to pull me into this situation by claiming that her actions were to protect me against George Anderson. I believe she is just trying to divert the issue to me. 1. At a June meeting a citizens spoke out against me, making absurd allegations, the Mayor did not attempt to stop her. 2. At a meeting prior to that former Councilman Robert Jenkins also condemned me and my actions, the Mayor did not attempt to stop him. 3. After this past Monday nights meeting I approached the Mayor and put her on notice that she had better treat George Anderson the same way she treated Ms Swinney. It was only well after I put her on notice that she authorized a letter to Anderson. 4. I have attended every meeting since I was elected and not once have I seen or heard an altercation between Kellie and Marilyn. I believe that is merely a myth. Once again, the only reason I am commenting on this article is because I will not be used as an excuse for Kautz's actions. It is just not true. Tom Witts Mayor Pro Tem Snellville, GA
Bobby Howard July 28, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I want to personally apologize to Ms. Swinney for the actions of our Mayor this past Monday night. I want to publicly THANK YOU for all of your unselfish dedication to the City of Snellville as an active volunteer who everyday does nothing but think of ways to help and make our city better. You can be sure that I will be vigilant in my desire for the City of Snellville to continue to move forward in a positive direction and I hope that you Ms. Swinney will continue to be vigilant in your quest for justice in this matter. Thankful for you, Bobby Howard Snellville City Council Member
marlene buchanan July 31, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I believe the Mayor would have been better to allow Ms. Sweeney the opportunity to either make a point or make a fool of herself. Mayor Kautz and the entire Council should read Roberts Rules of Order. This long ago publication established sound means in which to conduct various meetings. One thing that can be said, Snellville has been made to look foolish by thse actions. I resent that.

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