Steele unloads on Haddix

Former long-time Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele was no stranger to voicing an opinion when it came to city business. Now out of office, Steele said he feels free to comment on issues that he considered to be off limits while he was in office. With that, a letter to the editor in this week’s edition has Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix in Steele’s sights.

Among other issues discussed in the letter, Steele essentially apologized for initially voting for Haddix to serve as the county mayoral representative on the regional TSPLOST roundtable, commenting that it is not a matter of Haddix’s position that he thinks outside the box but rather that Haddix would not recognize the box if he found it.

Steele in the letter began by referencing a recent letter to the editor from Haddix on regionalism and the upcoming 10-county TSPLOST vote. It was in that letter that Haddix gave his view on a number of issues pertaining to the regional TSPLOST process and rationale and his selection and eventual de-selection as the county’s mayoral representative to the 10-county Regional Transportation Roundtable.

Steele in his letter cited a different perspective of the events that unfolded.

“Here in Fayette County the mayors met and there was a two/two tie until I cast the deciding vote to elect Mayor Haddix (as the mayoral representative). I cast my vote for Mayor Haddix, initially, because as a new mayor I thought he would enjoy meeting our counterparts from throughout the region and would have the opportunity to learn something about transportation issues and the many facets and factors of governing,” Steele said. “I was sorely mistaken and for that I apologize.”

Steele in a conversation Friday continued that line of thought.

“(Haddix) has continued to misrepresent reality as it relates to transportation issues and his lack of impact or influence on them,” Steele said. “We’re naive if we think (Fayette County is) an island unto itself.”

Speaking of roundtable meetings Haddix attended while serving as the mayoral representative, Steele in the letter said some comments by Haddix gave the impression that Peachtree City has no traffic congestion, that Fayette did not need any transportation funding through the TSPLOST or that Fayette County should leave the Atlanta Regional Commission. Such statements led to a loss of confidence in Haddix to represent the best interest of the entire county and to his replacement on the roundtable, said Steele.

“Is it any wonder that the first draft of the project list had zero projects in Peachtree City and that the county as a whole would have been a serious donor county?” Steele said. The Hood Avenue/Kathi Avenue extension project in Fayetteville was subsequently removed so that Peachtree City could get the McDuff Parkway extension project, Steele added.

Steele in the letter said that Haddix has commented that people have trouble relating to him because he thinks outside the box.

“My opinion is that he has no idea where the box is and would not recognize it if he found it,” Steele said, noting his belief about why Haddix has been on the losing side of a number of votes both as councilman and mayor.

Steele on Friday went further, referencing what he said was a change in the way he interacted with Haddix.

“I never had much contact with him, but it got to the point that I wouldn’t meet with him unless I tape recorded the meeting or had witnesses. The way he reported on them was like he wasn’t at the same meetings. He would say one thing in the meetings and cast aspersions on it later,” Steele said.

Steele in the conversation Friday noted at the outset that he would only talk about issues he was personally aware of, adding that he reserved the right to comment on other issues in the future based on observation and experience.