and all the BS fit to read!

Troubled Waters, Broken Dam- Part 2

Troubled Waters, Broken Dam- Part 2

Jul 25, 2013

Considering that there was no resolution included, (one did not exist) and that a contract had never been submitted for review by the Council, the Lower Johnson Lake agenda item was premature. At best, it struck me as being nothing more than irresponsible, unprofessional and unethical political posturing. At worst, it struck me as something about which there is no way to make a non-inflammatory comment.

Divided We Stand, Part 3- Judgment Day

Divided We Stand, Part 3- Judgment Day

Mar 21, 2013

On March 19, 2013 the citizens of Snellville’s were awarded a victory in the fight for transparent, honest, productive and democratic government. That may seem like a bit of hyperbole, considering that the victory was the denial of the mayor’s ability to unilaterally fire the City Attorney. However, the ramifications of that decision are far reaching, and unquestionably reconfirm that the mayor, as well as every other member of the City Council, must abide by the city charter. While Judge Timothy Hamil’s decision will enable to City to move forward on a number of matters requiring the involvement of a City Attorney, a significant issue remains—the division within the Council. There was no legitimate reason for Kautz’ to file a lawsuit; as Judge Hamil noted, the matter should have been settled outside the courtroom. Unfortunately, Kautz seems to prefer litigation to conversation. Since she was sworn into office, she and her backers have seemed bent on running roughshod over the Council, the charter and anything else that interferes with what can best be described as a self-serving agenda. When members of the Council stated their belief that the mayor could not unilaterally fire the City Attorney, Kautz’s first response was not to discuss the matter, but to immediately file a lawsuit. That speaks volumes about her seeming attitude of, “I want what I want and to heck with what’s best for the city”. Charter issues aside, why would anyone attempt to fire an extremely competent, ethical and effective City Attorney and replace him with someone with little or no prior municipal law experience? The only reason would appear to be that the choice of a replacement was motivated by a desire for malleability rather than for competence. This isn’t the first time that Kautz’s unilateral actions have sent the City careening on an ill-advised “Adventure in City Attorneyland”. Immediately upon taking office in 2011, Kautz informed Tony Powell (who at the time was serving as City Attorney) that she intended to replace him as soon as her new appointee learned the ropes. Mr. Powell elected to resign, rather than stick around and serve as a nurse-maid. The new appointee was Stuart Oberman who, by...

An Open Letter from Snellville City Councilman Bobby Howard

An Open Letter from Snellville City Councilman Bobby Howard

Jan 31, 2013

My fellow councilman , Bobby Howard, recently wrote the following open letter in response to the costly antics of the city’s current mayor. It sheds an interesting light on the current state of the City Council 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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7OMftOlLeY 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...

Adventures in Contrived Allegation Land

Adventures in Contrived Allegation Land

Nov 20, 2012

(Part 1 of what’s sure to be a multi-part series.) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of a nation in which people are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. For almost fifty years, countless people have tried to make that noble dream a reality. Unfortunately, a disturbing number of ethically challenged people have dishonored that dream by distorting its principles to further their personal agendas. These distortions are commonly perpetuated by a practice known as “playing the race card”. Rather than dealing with the true issues at hand, people who play the race card seek to trump all the other figurative cards in the deck of human relations. And so it was, at the November 12, 2012 meeting of the Snellville City Council, when Kelly Kautz (mayor) played the race card in an apparent attempt to label other council members as racists. Although neither race nor ethnicity had ever been mentioned before in connection with a nomination, Kautz specified the race of only two of her 11 nominations that evening; she identified both nominees as African-American. Her comments have left citizens and other Council members scratching their respective heads, wondering what prompted her inappropriate comments. It appears to me that the comments were just part of a procedural ambush, planned to discredit other Council members while attempting to position herself as a champion of diversity. Kautz was already aware that one candidate would not be approved because he had failed to submit an application. Prior to his race being known or announced, Kautz stated that she was proceeding with his nomination in spite of objections about the nominee’s failure to submit an application.  The matter could have been easily resolved by simply withdrawing the nomination and resubmitting it after the appropriate application had been filed. But that procedure wouldn’t have fit Kautz’s apparent ambush plan. The second nominee that Kautz identified as being African-American does not live in the city and works in Atlanta. The position for which he was nominated is the city’s representative on the Evermore Community Improvement District’s board of directors. Questions about the applicant’s suitability for the position had...

When you hear the phrase “Your Vote Counts”, this probably isn’t what you think of.

When you hear the phrase “Your Vote Counts”, this probably isn’t what you think of.

Oct 15, 2012

By Kenneth Stepp For those of you who didn’t get the memo, elections have consequences. The citizens of Snellville who voted for the current mayor, and those who didn’t bother to vote, are about to experience some of those consequences, to the tune of at least $13,000. That’s the amount specified in a legal action that resulted from what can be best described as a self-serving action taken by Mayor Kautz.That action was also ill-advised and possibly illegal. (The courts will rule on the legal aspects of the case. Our legal counsel says Swinney has a great case and that opinion is shared by other knowledgeable people.) Legal counsel representing Marilyn Swinney has filed a letter of intent to sue Kautz and the city of Snellville for Kautz’s violation of Swinney’s Constitutional rights. Swinney isn’t the only one who believes her rights were violated and that Kautz’s actions were illegal. Our investigation shows that the ACLU agrees. According to a number of attorneys and elected officials throughout the county, at the very minimum, Kautz’s actions provide ample evidence that she is ethically unfit to hold the office of mayor. In addition to the Swinney case, it’s a matter of record that Kautz has freely allowed personal attacks on council members she doesn’t favor, and also uses her position to silence critics and people who she thinks may be critics. It is our opinion those will be the next legal actions coming to Snellville.Kautz is the person that the majority of voters in Snellville chose to represent them as mayor. They didn’t consider that during the campaign she stated that “they’ll have to work with me” when referring to other council members. They didn’t consider that she stated her primary reason for running wasn’t to work for the benefit of the citizens, but to become the first female mayor of Snellville. They didn’t consider that while she was a council member she voted against or tried to block economic development, for example, allowing the citizens to vote on Sunday alcohol sales, the formation of STAT and the Farmer’s Market.As we stated previously, “elections have consequences”. From what we’ve found, this one isn’t the first and...

An Alternative to Blind Justice

An Alternative to Blind Justice

Aug 19, 2012

Justice is supposed to be blind. Unfortunately, all too often it is; the blindfold that is so essential in assuring objectivity and impartiality during a trial often blinds a judge to sentencing alternatives that will benefit defendants and society alike. Alternative courts, also called “Community Courts” allow judges to remove sentencing blindfolds and enables them to administer a different form of justice. One that offers options other than time behind bars. According to Tracey Mason Blasi, an attorney with over 20 years of experience, who is currently a candidate for Gwinnett County Superior Court, “I have served as a municipal judge, and as a professional mediator, and have also worked to settle cases outside the courtroom. When you can mediate and avoid a trial, it saves everybody time and money and often leads to settlements that would be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve in court. Mediation can be a VERY effective alternative, and that’s why I’m working to promote more Community Courts—they are very effective alternatives.” Gwinnett County already has an alternative court for drug offenders. Ms. Blasi wants to establish one for mentally ill defendants. The rationale behind her efforts is simple– alternative courts are significantly more effective than traditional courts in reducing crime. In Gwinnett County, and across the nation, jails are filled with repeat offenders; it’s not unusual for these offenders to be sentenced to jail 10 times in a 15 year period. These aren’t hardened criminals. They’re people who have fallen into a lifestyle of committing petty crimes as a result of drug abuse, drug dependency or mental health issues. The intent of alternative courts isn’t to offer soft-on-crime options, or to give criminals a free pass, but to address specific core issues that lead to criminal behavior, rather than the consequences of that behavior. And that’s the key to their success. If you can control the cause, you can eliminate the result. (Alternative courts are not an option for defendants who actively pursue crime-based lifestyle.) It’s creative approaches like this that have made Ms. Blasi the candidate of choice for Gwinnett County voters. And her extensive work defending taxpayers against overreaching government agencies, previous judicial experience and a life-long...