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Special Meeting Called Regarding Removal of City Attorney Tony Powell, Others

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. and will discuss the Mayor's power to fire and hire, among other things.

A special called meeting will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. regarding the removal (or lack thereof) of City Attorney Tony Powell, along with a number of other recurring issues. 

It is open to the public and will take place in the council chambers.

Councilmembers Dave Emanuel, Bobby Howard, Diane Krause and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts called the meeting. The antagonism between those four and Mayor Kelly Kautz and councilman Mike Sabbagh is no secret - many votes are split between those two groups. The issue of the Mayor's power to hire and fire has been a bone of contention for over a year now, culminating in the most recent removal of Tony Powell from his post as City Attorney. It appears that a judge will be called in to determine her power as defined by the City Charter. 

Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer White's job is also on the line. 

"I am fervently hoping that addressing these issues now will end the constant disagreements in the future," said City Manager Butch Sanders. 

Snellville Patch will live blog the meeting. 

The following items will be discussed:

  1. First read of an ordinance clarifying the scope of the Mayor's authority to participate in administrative affairs pursuant to Section 3.10(e) of the City Charter.
  2. First reading of a series of Home Rule Ordinance.
  3. Adoption of a Resolution of Confidence in Tony Powell as the City Attorney and authorizing Powell to proceed with filing a lawsuit on behalf of the City and the City Council to affirm the express terms of the City Charter that restricts the power to terminate the City Attorney, the City Clerk, and the City Manager to the specific grounds state in City Charter Section 5.16. This agenda item will also include a review of the invoices of the law firm of Webb, Tanner, Powell, Mertz and Wilson, LLP. This agenda item will also include consideration of an instruction to the City Manager not to pay any other lawyer of law firm for work allegedly performed on behalf of the City without official approval authorizing the hiring of additional legal counsel by the City Council and approval of the invoice by the City Council at a Regular Meeting.
  4. Consideration of a resolution authorizing the City Attorney, Tony Powell, to move forward with a declaratory judgment action for the interpretation of certain laws of the State of Georgia, the City Charter of the City of Snellville, and the City Code of the City of Snellville regarding the current and ongoing conflicts arising from the following specific subjects:
  • The process of appointment and termination of the Prosecuting Attorney to the Municipal Court for the City of Snellville. This item will include consideration of a vote of confidence in the current holder of that position, Jennifer White, and challenging the right of the Mayor to terminate the Prosecuting Attorney without approval of the governing authority
  • The right of the Mayor to terminate the City Attorney, the City Clerk, the City Manager, or any other appointed administrative official of the City
  • Construction of the express power of the City Council to elect its Mayor Pro Tem pursuant to section 2.28 of the City Charter
  • Interpretation of the right to appeal procedural rulings which the Mayor imposed on members of the City Council and the public, which rulings preclude the proper and necessary debate of issues important to the City Council. Such rulings have also resulted in the unconstitutional interference of the Mayor with public debates, and are in violation of the authority of Section 2-89 entitled "Incidental Motions" of the Code of the City of Snellville, Ga. 
  • The claim of the Mayor to the right to appoint the directors of the Snellville Tourism and Trade Association, Inc.
  • The interpretation of the authority of the City Council to amend the City Charter by the exercise of Home Rule ordinances pursuant to Official Code of Georgia Annotated.
  • The interpretation of the Section 2.20 (b) of the City Charter which allows the Mayor to make appointments to committees of the City Council.
Josh January 08, 2013 at 12:00 PM
It's like middle school all over again. This infighting just reaffirms the citizens disdain for Government when the majority of work being done is trying to usurp the power to make decisions by one person or the other. While I tend to fall in step with the majority of the counsel that the Mayor is over stepping her office, at some point, I'd like to see Snellville moving forward. I love this city, but come on, it's time for the city government to move on or get out. Madame Mayor, it's time to be a leader or get out of the way. Being Mayor doesn't mean you are surrounded by yes-men, it means you lead with your council members, agreeable or not. I bet if you stepped it up and started showing some true compromising, the City might actually go somewhere, until then, you are making Snellville another example of typical government that has no clue.
Crystal Huskey (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 01:29 PM
I think the purpose of the meeting is to move past some of these recurring conflicts.
Grant January 08, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Awesome .... I wonder how many "out of orders" Kelly will bark? Should be exceptional entertainment and HOPEFULLY the wannabe queen will finally understand her role in the government as a "leader" not a "ruler"... Of course , considering her past antics and oft displayed ignorance even that is in doubt .
hazybuck January 08, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Wow! Have I been attending meetings in an alternate universe? While I do agree that the council SUCKS at working together as adults, never mind elected officials, I don't believe that Kelly has been acting as a 'ruler' or a 'queen.' I believe she's trying to get the council to perform actions that are in the best interest of the city. From my perspective, Tom Witts has been acting as though he feels 'the little lady' needs to remember her place (is that barefoot and pregnant?!?) and wants her to defer to him in all things and she's an idiot if she doesn't see what a genius he is . . . Having said that, I am disappointed in the overall 'high school' infighting and lack of professional behavior of the ENTIRE council and feel it may be time to disband the entire thing and call for a special election to replace every member.
Lenora Church January 08, 2013 at 04:00 PM
You are absolutely right. You have been attending meetings in an alternate universe.
Brenda Lee January 08, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Inquiring minds want to know if Mayor Kautz and Councilman Sabbagh will show up for the Special Called Meeting and defend their position on the issues?
Crystal Huskey (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for that and probably won't know myself until 7 p.m. on Wednesday!
Brenda Lee January 08, 2013 at 10:14 PM
It really does sound like a higher power aka real Judge, is going to have to rule on these issues.
Will Thompson January 08, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Unfortunate but I guess it had to come to this. Mayor Kautz needs to understand that the citizens come first not her buddies. All you have to do is look at videos of meetings and you can see the problem. I think it will take a judge to make her act properly.
Pat Binger January 09, 2013 at 12:21 AM
"Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer White's job is also on the line." This is in the article without any stated reason as to why this persons job is on the line. It has been discussed that the Mayor is overstepping her bounds and trying to fire an employee (which is not within her power) to hire (which is not within her power) her office mate, Dawn Taylor. This is the same Dawn Taylor that the Mayor already tried (unsuccessfully) to get a job as a City judge soon after she was elected. Hazybuck-you are in an alternate universe--ask any City employee how they feel right now about working with the Mayor - that's if they are not too scared to speak.
hazybuck January 09, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Pat, NO ONE should have to work in fear - especially in an environment managed by elected officials. Obviously, I need to take a closer look at the actions of those running our city. Having said that, I've been to several of the meetings and it does appear that there are some serious 'good old boy' activities - and not just with Kautz. I'm truly tired of seeing Tom Witts - and view him as a huge disappointment. He will NOT get my vote next election. Nor will most of the council.
Brenda Lee January 09, 2013 at 01:46 AM
hazybuck, do you realize that Witts and the other council members are trying to make sure that Snellville is a "representative" council and that one person isn't making unilateral decisions, in this case Kautz.
Brenda Lee January 09, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Crystal, if I'm reading the City Charter correctly, if she refuses to show up then Tom Witts as Mayor Pro Tem can run a legal meeting with three other council members, which is a quorum. Section 2.21. - Quorum; voting. The mayor and three council members shall constitute a quorum and shall be authorized to transact business of the city council. When the mayor pro tem is presiding in the mayor's absence, the mayor pro tem and three council members shall constitute a quorum. Voting on the adoption of ordinances shall be by voice vote and the vote shall be recorded in the journal, but any member of the city council shall have the right to request a roll call vote and such vote shall be recorded in the journal. Except as otherwise provided in this Charter, the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the mayor and city council present and voting shall be required for the adoption of any ordinance, resolution, or motion. An abstention shall be counted as an affirmative vote. When the mayor or a councilmember does not vote after being disqualified as required by this Charter, any state law, or local ordinance, such lack of vote shall not be counted as either an affirmative or negative vote. Once a quorum is established, the quorum cannot be defeated by the subsequent departure of the mayor or a councilmember. http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=13356
Lenora Church January 09, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Hazybuck, did Mr Witts ever have your vote? You cannot take back a gift that was never given. Get back into the Delorean and set the dials to Snellville 2013. (BTW - I am sure that Tom Witts is crushed by your withdrawl of support).
Lenora Church January 09, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Brenda, if this is true that will make for a fun evening don't you think? Maybe Hazybuck will be back in time to attend.
Brenda Lee January 09, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Yep, I'm bring my fully charged phone and tablet to record the evening for posterity.
Pat Binger January 09, 2013 at 02:27 PM
hazybuck, Please take a closer look. It is only through informed people that the truth gets told. The Mayor is directing individual actions of staff members, action which is prohibited by the City's Charter. It's a shame you see Tom Witts as such a villian. It tells me you buy into the victim status that the Mayor plays so well. You should plan to attend or volunteer at one of the many City events happening this coming year and see who is out there working to make it happen. Witts, Howard, Emanuel and Krause have all contributed time and actual money to make these events successful, and they ATTEND them to be able to meet people like you who have questions and concerns for the City. They are available at most of the Farmer's Market. Just try to find Kautz or Sabbagh at any event and you can't do it. Kautz comes in only if she is going to make an announcement or flip the switch on the tree and then, poof, shes off...maybe to your alternate universe. I'd suggest you come into the real world and get to know Witts rather than judging him based on one or two Council meetings. Unfortunately, most of Council is not at their best in the meetings because they are trying to do the work for the people and have to dodge all manner of political positioning, attacks and reinterpretations of the City's rules at every turn. I've learned that in politics, it's the good people that are made out to be villians because they refuse to exploit the fears of the people they serve.
Russ Nuspliger January 09, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Madam Mayor has been avoiding all phone calls, won't answer her doorbell, and has made it impossable to "legally" inform her of the meeting. That was as of 6:45pm last night, so if someone didn't luck out and catch her by surprise, she won't be there tonight, and will claim on Monday that the meeting was illegal because she wasn't informed as required by the City Charter. What she hopes to change I cannot immagine, but the same stuff will then be covered again at Mondays meeting, and she will still look foolish. Different day, same Mayor.
Russ Nuspliger January 09, 2013 at 06:39 PM
That's the ultimate goal. It has to come from an authoritative source that she can't control
Grant January 09, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Brenda, Surely you are aware by now that the City Charter does not and has never applied to Kautz .I doubt she has ever even read the thing much less feels bound by it..
George Anderson January 09, 2013 at 07:31 PM
The situation is very sad and tragic to the taxpayers. This government body is dysfunctional. The people of "we the people" are suffering fools in charge of the City of Snellville. The foxes are guarding the hen house. Citizens of Snellville...don't allow this unethical behavior to continue much longer. Taxpayer funds/money is being misused. The Council members have a fiduciary duty to operate the city government as good stewards of the public funds. George Anderson Ethics Activist
Pat Binger January 09, 2013 at 08:09 PM
George Anderson, Funny these comments coming from you when you are working with the foxes.
George Anderson January 09, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Pat Binger, If all you care about is dysfunctional unethical government...enjoy it. However, I care about the people of "we the people". I work for no one. I care about the public's trust being violated by politicians that violate their oath of office. I feel sorry for you. George Anderson
George Anderson January 09, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Why do you people enjoy destroying elected officials?! Why not work together in an atmosphere of what is best for the taxpayers, citizens, and people of Snellville, GA?! George Anderson Concerned Ethics Seminar Instructor
George Anderson January 09, 2013 at 09:00 PM
I agree. The people of Snellville need a functional government working for their best interest. They should be good stewards of the public funds. George Anderson Ethics Watchdog
Pat Binger January 11, 2013 at 06:09 PM
George Anderson "Why do you people enjoy destroying elected officials?! " Again, funny words from a man who has spent the past 20 years tormenting and destroying ethical people who ran for office. Granted, some of them definitely need to be tormented and taken out of office, but many of the complaints you filed were for nothing. You have also requested "donations" from folks who have "hired" you to torment and destroy their foes.

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