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Snellville Councilman Blasts Mayor for 'Blatant Attempts to Mislead the Public'

In a letter to the editor, councilman Bobby Howard discusses a number of issues, including a Facebook post by Mayor Kelly Kautz that Howard asserts is misleading.

(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:bobbyhoward@snellville.org and Cell: 404-583-1099.

Bobby Howard
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
Brenda Lee January 30, 2013 at 11:31 PM
The continuing Chronicles of Kelly Kautz, The Little Tyrant of Snellville! That's my opinion and I stand behind it.
Karees Mathers Oneill January 31, 2013 at 12:56 AM
When can we get rid of her?
Lenora Church January 31, 2013 at 01:51 AM
I bow and curtsy to you Mr. Howard. I just wish you outlined how many untruths were in her post that you quoted. I do know that you didn't stop her from stating her opinion. I doubt anybody but a judge could ever stop her from talking over the rest of the counsel.
Sharon Hetherington January 31, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Having attended City Council Meetings to see the Mayor and Council in action, I can only agree with Mr. Howard. The "unilateral and tyrannical actions by the mayor" are an obstruction to carrying on the business of the City and degrading to those who serve in the administration and Council. From my conversations with Mr. Howard, I would guess that it cost him dearly to bring these matters to the attention of the public. Witts, Emanuel, Howard and Krause have worked quietly behind the scenes to attempt to resolve many issues in order to avoid negative publicity for the City of Snellville. Many have asked "can't we all just get along"? The answer is they have tried and failed. Regrettably, the time has come for plain speaking as the Council moves forward.
Sharon Hetherington January 31, 2013 at 02:49 AM
As for Kellie's plea, does she really mean to say she is raising "campaign" funds to pay her legal fees? Isn't that illegal? Is it legal or ethical or allowed in the City Charter for the Mayor to solicit money from the public for personal use? Doesn't that sound like an invitation to commit fraud or buy favors?
Lenora Church January 31, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Sharon, from what I've read she is the one who is suing the rest of the counsel. Now she wants the citizens to "chip in" Next thing you know she will want us to pay for her indiscretions with the first amendment . Oh! wait a minute!
Bobby Howard January 31, 2013 at 01:34 PM
To the Citizens of Snellville...... There comes a time when silence is betrayal. Quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King That time has come for me....I will not betray the Citizens of Snellville by sitting in silence and watch any longer. Not all will agree with me , and yes some will dismiss without so much of a blink. I do nothing more than offer each of you the opportunity to see for yourself and decide the continued fate of your city. A city I hold very dear to my heart. A battle is being waged and the stakes are high. If you agree, then get involved and do what you can to make Snellville the best it can be. I know who on council is working hard to make that happen. Warmest Regards, Bobby Howard Proud Snellville City Council Member http://daveemanuel.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/adventures-in-city-attorney-land-the-revolving-door-claims-another-victim/
Vanessa Hall Green January 31, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Kudos Bobby! As an impartial "out of town" observer, if you will(hailing from Dacula, not Snellville), I have been in attendance at several meetings this past year where her attitude that you describe is unfortunately so obviously true. And I have heard some of the things you have documented with my own ears. It is sad that the ego of one woman can hold an entire city government hostage when you and the other councilmen have nothing but positive ideas, energy and drive to move Snellville forward into a bright future. I commend you for speaking out now ever more boldly and hope that eventually the good folks of Snellville will have had their fill of Kautz' antics!
J. Davenport March 22, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Very well said Bobby and you should hold your head high for speaking out on this. Every citizen in Snellville has the right to know what the truths are and what is actually happening in our city. I hope that now the suit has been settled and our City Attorney is back in place I would like to know if anyone is actually looking into the previous statement made in regards to the Mayor asking for "campaign contributions" to cover her leagal fees. This may also answer the question of why her own law practice is not doing well. If she was that good of an attorney then she should have been able to represent herself without having to hire an outside attorney. I don't know about anyone else but I am ready to have the petition start to have her removed from office because we all know that she would never step down no matter what.
Bobby Howard March 22, 2013 at 08:57 PM
J. Davenport----- Thank you very much for your kind words. I believe many other things are being looked at as a result of the recent ruling. Please continue to be active even in light of the fights we must endure. Snellville is a GREAT City and the people and volunteers prove it every day!

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