PTC Council to take mayor’s pay to repay Haddix’s $10K legal bill?

Peachtree City Councilman George Dienhart (L), newest member of the council, and Mayor Don Haddix in a meeting earlier this year.

In a memo hand-signed by four Peachtree City Council members, the ground has been laid for the city to potentially recoup nearly $10,000 spent on legal fees to defend Mayor Don Haddix in a libel lawsuit.

“It is the recommendation of all four council members to consider salary adjustment of Mayor Donnie O. Haddix, effective July 1, 2012,” the memo states.

The two-sentence memo does not divulge how much of Haddix’s salary would be cut under such a proposal, and furthermore it contains no details of any case law or legal precedent for such a drastic action.

The vague proposal will be discussed at the end of Thursday night’s council meeting at City Hall, which starts at 7 p.m.

Haddix said Monday that he will oppose the matter in part because he doesn’t want a future majority of council to wield such a penalty against another mayor.

“That’s a big concern for me,” Haddix said. “... Regardless of what somebody feels on me taking or not taking the money, it was a legal insurance payment.”

Haddix was sued for libel personally, not in his capacity as mayor, by former Mayor Harold Logsdon over an email from Haddix to a city employee in which Haddix claimed that Logsdon showed up at council meetings “part drunk.”

The lawsuit was settled in December for just under $10,000 and a written apology from Haddix. The settlement also called for Haddix to pay $3,000 to Logsdon.

To cover his legal fees in the case, Haddix directed City Attorney Ted Meeker to write a letter to the city’s risk reduction carier, the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Association. After twice denying the claim last year, GIRMA changed its mind upon a third letter this year, and cut a check directly to Haddix.

Because the $9,969.40 expenditure was under the city’s $25,000 deductible, the city had to cut a check to GIRMA to cover the expense.

The council recently directed Meeker to write a second letter to GIRMA to have the city’s payment refunded on the basis that Haddix was not sued in his official capacity. It has also been noted that unlike lawsuits when the city is sued, Haddix got to choose his own personal attorney and he unilaterally negotiated the terms of the settlement without any input from council.

Council members have also said they never voted to pay Haddix to cover his legal bills in the matter.

As mayor, Haddix makes $9,000 a year and council members make $6,000; the positions are technically set up to pay $18,000 a year for mayor and $12,000 a year for council members as approved in 2007, but since then no council has funded those raises.

Haddix said he has not consulted an attorney yet, but he feels he has options and he also will make a statement about the matter at Thursday’s meeting. He added that if he hired an attorney, he felt the city council should be responsible for paying it because they are creating the issue.

In addition to a clear signal of council’s displeasure with the way the matter has been handled, the affair is also indicative of a growing rift between council and the mayor. Haddix said none of the council members approached him about this before having it put on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. The agenda was published by the city late Thursday afternoon.

“They haven’t contacted me at all and I didn’t see it until it was in the packet,” Haddix said Monday. “... If you go back and view the censure and everything else, and multiple times they have requested me to resign from council, multiple times. This is a political agenda. That is what it is.”

The Citizen attempted to contact Vice Mayor Eric Imker on the matter Monday afternoon but he did not return a phone call in time for The Citizen’s print deadline Tuesday.

Haddix said he plans to make a statement on the matter at Thursday’s council meeting about the matter.

dawgday
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Resign?

The man is not going to resign - he truly is a fool's fool. He is of the opinion this is politically motivated and has absolutely nothing to do with his series of actions and lies. It is up to the citizens to remove him. He has clearly violated ethics no matter which way you decide to slice and dice it. If he took the money in his capacity as mayor as he claims, he has exceeded his mandate as mayor as he is not empowered to negotiate a settlement without Council. If he took the money as a private citizen, he has essentially stolen money from the city, which is actually more criminal than ethical, but nevertheless, a violation in his capacity as mayor. To get rid of him, someone has to file an ethics change in the next couple of weeks as you only have 90 days from it being discovered to file the charge. What we do not need is Council trying to recover the money and having a taxpayer paid lawyer at $200 per hour defend him as Mayor.

lettinguno
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So, why is this man still the Mayor?

If I did not have the support of my council and the citizens, I believe I would have enough sense to bow out and let someone else take the helm.
Do you not have a clue Mr. Mayor? The party is over.

lettinguno
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So, why is this man still the Mayor?

If I did not have the support of my council and the citizens, I believe I would have enough sense to bow out and let someone else take the helm.
Do you not have a clue Mr. Mayor? The party is over.

mudcat
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This is sure good for business

You do know that people who are thinking about moving to Peachtree City check things out ahead of time by reading the local newspaper on-line. Businesses thinking of relocating also check out the local news. Sometimes they want to find out a little more about the elected officials they may have to interact with in facilitating a relocation or other negotiations. How can anyone read this story and have good thoughts about moving to Peachtree City.

I really wish we could figure out some way to not be embarrassed every Wednesday when the paper comes out.
I know we have 36,000 people living here - none of whom would consider libel or slander or taking taxpayer money for personal use.

Every village has to have an idiot and that's no problem. A village idiot, a town drunk, a Barney Fife, a Boss Hogg - all these things are fine, but promoting the village idiot to mayor by actually electing him is completely unreasonable.

Shareholder
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good for business?

You know what businesses are probably thinking Mudcat? That this guy can be bought!

Shareholder
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Good for business?

You know the businesses are probably thinking Mudcat? That this guy can be bought!

Spyglass
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Mud, I think you've hit on something..

That many of the PTC voters are stupid. :)

I tried my best to get folks to vote for ANYONE except Captain Kangaroo in the last Mayors election.

Busy Bee
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The resemblance to Captain Kangaroo is striking

But I think he looks a lot like Mr. Magoo, too. Nothing like having a cartoon character for a mayor!

ptctaxpayer
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ptctaxpayer
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ptctaxpayer
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GO DONNIE !!! You have to

GO DONNIE !!! You have to give the guy credit--- he can take a beating and keep on talking. This is great entertainment. Reduce his salary? I got chuckle when I first read that. Hey, you clowns ever hear of a thing called the Charter? Nah, didn't think so.

Mike King
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Mr Mayor

Don, what statement can you possibly make that will make this episode go away. Now if you decide to resign, I'm certain we could take up a collection within PTC to repay those legal bills you tried to hide from your four fellow Council Members. Be advised, however, that your immediate resignation would be required to begin such a collection.

Anything short of you writing a check for $9969.49 or resigning shows nothing but contempt on your part toward the citizens of Peachtree City. We both realize that a reversal by GIR places you in direct contravention with the city's fund disbursement policy, not to mention the dishonesty displayed by hiding the matter from the remainder of Council.

So, for once in your life act like an adult and do what is right. Pay for your legal fees or resign, and trust that the citizens of our fair city will raise the funds necessary to begin payment for the monumental mistake of electing you in the first place.

Robert W. Morgan
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10 days on a sailboat and Donnie is still there?

I spent a good 10 days getting a buddie's sailboat up to Castine - no internet at all - and now I come back to see this in my first hour ashore? My God, what a complete moron we have as a mayor. If you have never seen Castine, please do so. It is a truly wonderful place. I was here years ago for a maritime class, but from an anchored boat in the harbor the town is even more magnificent. Lobster dinner at 8. Heaven.

I applaud city council for trying to grab his salary as reimbursement, but that is not enough. Sure, getting the money back is important, but getting rid of the troll is more important. Please, please, please let's drive this idiot out of office.

I did leave a check with mudcat for the lawsuit that might force him to resign, but I will gladly redirect that to partially reimburse him for the $10k the council going to take from him tonight - if he resigns immediately. Hope the others who have pledged for the lawsuit feel the same way. What a complete Jackass. How do we get people like this? We are a better city than this ignorant and bumbling fool, are we not?