An Open Letter from Snellville Councilman Bobby Howard
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 the following:
A lawsuit 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. 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.
Start video at 30:18 and stop at 30:25
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 by clicking the following link- http://snellville.patch.com/articles/city-pays-15-000-to-settle-swinney-lawsuit )
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. Thia 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 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 www.snellville.org .
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
Video Links and other related links and information : All meeting links can be found at
Adventures in City Attorney Land- The Revolving Door Claims Another Victim
“Victim” may seem like a strange word to apply to a City Attorney, yet for the participants in the parade of attorneys who have recently attempted to serve the City of Snellville, it appears to be entirely appropriate. The most recent victims of Snellville’s revolving attorney door are Nola Jackson and Karen Woodward, members of the law firm Cruser & Mitchell.
Without any discussion whatsoever with other Council members, the current mayor appointed Cruser & Mitchell as interim City Attorney on December 13, 2012. On a number of previous occasions, Ms. Kautz had attempted to fire current City Attorney Powell. (Whether the mayor has the authority to fire the City Attorney is a matter that’s pending before a Superior court judge.
Obviously, neither Ms. Jackson nor Ms. Woodward had anticipated the positions into which they fouond themselves when they agreed to serve the city. At both the January 9th specially called meeting, and the January 14th regular meeting, Ms. Kautz placed Ms. Woodward in the unenviable position of being asked questions that appeared to be designed to solicit answers that would contradict those offered by Mr. Powell.
To her credit, Ms. Woodward expressed her honest opinion and more often than not agreed with Mr. Powell or stated that she didn’t have the information she needed to provide an answer. Ms. Woodward was clearly uncomfortable, having been placed under the aura of cross-examination. It’s a pretty safe bet that she didn’t anticipate her legal service would give her a starring role in a contentious court room-style drama played out in a public meeting.
Consequently, it came as no surprise that on January 17th, Cruser & Mitchell informed the City it was terminating its agreement to serve as interim City Attorney. In its letter to the City, the law firm stated, “Thank you for the opportunity to serve as interim city attorney for the City of Snellville. At this time, however, we feel it is not in the best interest of Cruser & Mitchell to continue in this position. In accordance with our agreement for services, we are providing written notice that, effective immediately, Cruser & Mitchell, LLP withdraws from representation of the City”.
That’s makes it five law firms that have gone through, or become ensnared in the revolving door in a little over a year. Two firms resigned and two were fired. In this case, two plus two equals five because one firm was fired, rehired and fired again.
The question is, “Where does the City go from here?” Given this history, many attorneys will decline to even consider serving as Snellville’s City Attorney—being fired, or resigning after only a few months or less on the job, is never a good thing to have on a resume, or on the minds of one’s peers.
So for the moment, Snellville’s revolving attorney door will continue to spin, just waiting for its next “inductee”.
For more adventures in City Attorney Land, click the links below