(Editor's note: the following is a letter to the editor sent by Snellville councilman Bobby Howard. This letter does not express the views of Snellville Patch. If you would like to respond to this opinion piece, send in your own letter to Crystal.Huskey@patch.com.)
When I was elected as a member of the Snellville City Council, I made a commitment to represent all citizens, regardless of whether or not we agreed politically.
Unfortunately, recent events related to our city have created a number of challenges to those of us on the City Council who are working to move our city forward. The events I speak of include a lawsuit that was settled out of court, resulting from the mayor’s violation of a citizen’s 1st Amendment rights.
The cost to settle this lawsuit was $15,000, which included approximately $5,000 paid to a professor of Constitutional law, who advised the city there was a very high probability it would lose, if the matter went to court. It is true that the actual settlement costs were paid by the city’s insurance carrier. However, the mayor’s statement, "it did not cost the city a penny" is blatantly false.
Please take the time to view the video and hear the mayor’s statement for yourself (see above; start video at 30:18 and stop at 30:25). This lawsuit was settled out of court because the city had little, if any chance of successfully defending the mayor’s actions of wrongfully taking away a citizen’s 1st Amendment Rights.
To this point, the cost to the city is at least $7,300.00 of our taxpayer dollars.
As a member of this Council, I will not accept the careless, needless and wasteful expenditure of city taxpayer dollars. See for yourself and decide if you can support this type of behavior.
In reference to the mayor’s statement, “No sir it did not. It didn't cost the city a penny”—the real COSTS are:
- $1,000.00 the deductible on our insurance
- $1,385.00 paid (without Council authorization) to the law firm Cruser & Mitchell
- $5,000.00 City Attorney
Increase in rates from Insurance Carrier ???????? yet to come.
I’m not sure what the mayor’s definition of “not a penny” is, but my math adds up to nearly $7,300.00 of your taxpayer money! (You can see the mayor’s actions that resulted in the lawsuit here.)
More Roadblocks to Moving the City Forward
The mayor attempted to halt a duly called meeting of the Council with an injunction. Without ever contacting the members of Council, to see if the matter could be resolved with a discussion, the mayor asked for a Superior Court judge to issue an emergency injunction to stop the meeting. When the judge indicated he saw no legitimate reason to issue an injunction, and would deny the request, the mayor withdrew it.
Four members of the Council, and the current City Attorney, have been sued by the mayor, trying to halt attempts to have clarification of our City Charter. The attorney handling the case for the mayor is from Atlanta, and is the same attorney she relieved of duty while at the recent hearing. (Can be verified with court transcripts.) Below are what can only be described as blatant attempts to mislead the public.
The Mayor posted this on her Facebook Page:
"Tonight 4 members of Council voted to unilaterally change the City Charter without going to the General Assembly by taking away powers and duties granted to the Mayor. But, on top of that 4 members of Council also voted that the Mayor can no longer speak on matters up for a vote despite the fact that our City Charter gives the Mayor the same rights to vote and debate as any other Council member. I try to stay positive on my postings, but these Council members are out of control. This is truly a power struggle. I need the help of the citizens. You all know that there is a lawsuit pending between myself and the 4 members of Council. It should be no surprise that these members of Council have passed a resolution not to pay my legal fees just their own, so I am trying to raise campaign funds for this. These Council member will not stop until November when hopefully they are voted from office, but we must prevail in this lawsuit. Please go to my website www.kellykautz.com to donate. Every dollar helps."
Actions Putting the City at Legal Risk
The mayor’s recent attempted hiring of new city attorneys has put our city in legal limbo. This is one of the issues we are asking to be resolved in Superior Court. On Thursday January 18th, that firm resigned, effective immediately, stating, “we feel it is not in the best interest of Cruser & Mitchell to continue in this position.”
That now makes 5 city attorneys who have represented the city in just over a year.
These events all have a common thread- unilateral and tyrannical actions by the mayor- one that I would like you to see for yourself. I invite you to invest some time looking at the recent videos from the Special Called Meeting of Jan. 9, 2013 and the Regular Meeting of Jan. 14, 2013. You can then decide for yourself who on this council is working to improve our city and who is not.
I will be posting the videos of these meetings, and you can also find them on our city website.
As always, feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any matters of concern. Email:email@example.com and Cell: 404-583-1099.
Snellville City Council Post 4
For further reading:
- Full Video: Jan. 14 Council Meeting
- Full Video: Jan. 9 Council Meeting
- Jan. 14 City Council Meeting Recap
- Jan. 28 Snellville Council Meeting Live Blog and Recap