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Tony Powell Rehired as City Attorney

At a special called meeting, council was greeted with a familiar face.

After months of wrangling and discord, Mayor Kelly Kautz has changed her mind regarding who should be 's city attorney.

Kevin Tallant is out, and Tony Powell is back in. 

Hired actually to replace Powell, Tallant had been on the job for a little over a month. Powell is the former city attorney, who left the position in November when Kautz was elected.

"There's no secret that I did not want Tony," Kautz said of her earlier decision not to have him continue as the city attorney. "Tony and I had our own issues."

In addition, 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, Stuart Oberman filled in as the temporary city attorney. He resigned in February after trying and failing to get paid for months. 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 meanwhile also had been hired as the sole attorney for the city council -- a unique move highlighting the lack of trust between some council members and the mayor.

And, now it seems the mayor's move to rehire Powell is drawing both positive and negative reactions from the council. Councilman Dave Emanuel, for example, said Tallant was fired over email.

"I am extremely pleased that Tony Powell will once again be working with us," said Councilman Dave Emanuel. "But I am just as displeased with Kevin Tallant’s firing, and I’m incensed and embarrassed by the unprofessional manner in which it was handled."

Kautz said it wasn't until she learned that her previously chosen permanent city attorney replacement -- Tallant -- could not handle real estate matters, that she began thinking maybe she should have kept Powell.

And, then the mayor said she received bills for both attorneys in the past few weeks, including a $3,000 bill from Powell on real estate matters and nearly $6,000 from Tallant. In the end, she decided one attorney was enough, especially given Powell's ability to handle real estate and his familiarity with Snellville matters.

That council already approved of him made Kautz's latest decision seem all the more apparent.

"I'm not afraid to admit that maybe I made a mistake in getting rid of Tony," Kautz said. "I think ultimately this will help the city in moving forward and some of the healing that everybody involved in the government needs to work on."

Still, some council members remain concerned about the level of control the mayor has over the hirings and firings of people to fill key positions, such as that of the city attorney.

And, in this case, Snellville is back where it began -- with Powell as its city's attorney.

"The bottom line is that the council had to suffer through three months of what I consider incompetent representation, followed by a transition to a new city attorney, and now another transition," Emanuel said in an email statement. "That certainly does not serve the best interests of our citizens."

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