Ethics complaint against PTC mayor dropped

Citizen cites wish to avoid spending money on legal fees for Haddix's attorney

An ethics complaint filed against Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix — stemming from nearly $10,000 in city funds paid to defend and settle a libel lawsuit — has been dropped.

The citizen who lodged the complaint, Steve Thaxton, dropped the complaint after he was unable to convince Haddix to forego legal representation in the matter when addressing council during a special called meeting Tuesday night.

Thaxton said since Haddix refused to go through the process without legal representation, he felt it necessary to drop the ethics charges to avoid a further expense of taxpayer money for legal fees.

Initially however, Thaxton tried to coax Haddix into a gentleman’s agreement in which Haddix would avoid the use of an attorney and Thaxton would drop the ethics complaint after the citizen ethics board made its decision on whether a violation occurred ... and before the board could vote on one of six potential “penalty” actions.

Haddix, who vehemently declined to take Thaxton up on the offer, said he was entitled to legal representation, and if Thaxton wanted to avoid that possibility he could withdraw the complaint.

Ultimately, City Attorney Ted Meeker hastily drew up a handwritten notice signed by Thaxton which formally communicated his wish to withdraw the complaint.

The called meeting Tuesday night was to allow council to appoint four members to the ethics board by drawing names out of a basket. After that was accomplished, council was expected to formally vote to ratify the $300 an hour attorney selected by Haddix to represent him for the ethics charge.

At that point, Thaxton rose and asked to speak but at first Haddix declined. Seconds later, common sense prevailed and Thaxton was allowed to make his proposal to Haddix.

To some the necessity of an attorney in an ethics hearing might seem odd, particularly given the ethics board’s lack of power to mete out “punishment” if a violation is deemed to have occurred.

By city ordinance, if an ethics board rules determines a public official or employee has violated the city’s ethics ordinance, it has several choices to conclude the matter:
• A public reprimand and admonishment not to violate the ethics code in the future;
• A formal reprimand;
• Public censure;
• Recommendation for termination, resignation or recall;
• Recommendation of prosecution in municipal court; and
• No admonishment and no further action.

The ethics complaint centered on a nearly $10,000 payment the city made to the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA) to cover the legal defense and settlement of a libel lawsuit filed against Haddix personally by former mayor Harold Logsdon. The statement at issue in the lawsuit was contained in an email from Haddix to a city employee, and ultimately the lawsuit was settled in December for a $3,000 payment from Haddix to Logsdon along with a letter of apology.

GIRMA initially denied coverage to Haddix but reversed its decision earlier this year several months after the case was settled. Because the $9,969 total for legal fees and the settlement was under the city’s $25,000 deductible, GIRMA per its contract cut a check for the amount, which required the city to repay GIRMA.

GIRMA officials would later say they would have covered Haddix’s legal fees from the beginning of the case had GIRMA known that the allegedly libelous statement been contained in an email from Haddix to a city employee which GIRMA contends brought the matter into the realm of official city business.

Thaxton contended that Haddix should have sought council approval for the expenditure instead of seeking payment from GIRMA. Thaxton also complained that Haddix chose to hire Fayetteville attorney John Mrosek who at the time of the libel suit was a plaintiff in a federal clean water lawsuit filed against the city.

The ethics complaint also accused Haddix of violating several portions of the city’s personnel policy, including one forbidding “discourteous treatment of the public or other employees.”

Some council members were outraged when the GIRMA payment came to light in May because it was thought since Haddix was sued personally and not in his official capacity as mayor, the city would not have to pay for his legal fees.

Several weeks after the GIRMA payment came to light, council decided to make a “budget adjustment” to reduce Haddix’s salary from $750 a month to just under $75 a month for the remainder of the fiscal year with the intention of recouping the funds that were paid to settle the lawsuit. That action is likely the first time in city history that a majority of council voted to dock the pay of a fellow elected official.

Spyglass
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IF only the Mayor thought like you..

Probably a good call on dropping the charges...although as a tax payer, I had no problem with this going forward.

The Mayor could easily put an end to this, and even earn some respect back. Just write a check to the City for what he owes. Even I would hush about him..the ball is in his court.

Mike King
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Thank You Mr Thaxton....

...For having the best interests of Peachtree City in mind when dropping the ethics complaint. All but a very few citizens know full well that Don Haddix has proven himself to be a self centered opportunist whose motives are purely personal without regard for the those he represents.

It is an utter embarrassment for me personally to have been duped by the likes of this man whose integrity is constantly challenged. The man simply has no honor.

americanpatriots
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No, Morgan you are wrong - again

Please check your facts before posting.

His pay is NOT being withheld for the current fiscal year and it will most likely be held not to be allowable for the next fiscal year.

I'm sure we have not heard the end to this story.

Jim Richter

madmike
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Richter - You have bad information

Jim: Not sure who is feeding you this BS but the Mayor's salary reduction started in July to pay back the ill-gotten gains of approximately $11K in the Logsdon fiasco. Please check your own facts, or at least your sources, before posting.
You are right about one thing... we haven't heard the end of this and the latest lawsuit, with a Haddix attorney now at $600/Hour, will fall under the indemnification deductible and will cost the city a minimum $25K to defend. Perhaps it is time to just reverse the decision, pay the Mayor his pissy $750 a month, and quit chasing bad money with good. Stupidity (in the Mayor's case) is something you can't eliminate through legislation or court order.

pumpkin
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VENGEANCE

think this may be the better adjective than yours of "stupidity". Everyone wants to back up now, "perhaps it is time to just reverse the decision, pay the Mayor his pissy $750 a month, and quit chasing bad money with good", you fools dont even have a clue, it's not about the money. I am falling out of my chair, if it were not so sad it would be as funny as it is now, to read these gossips, know it alls wanting to say I'm sorry. Just reading the back pedal that the Mayor has now put you all to,I say "put up or shut up you fools". God knows he will win his case, I can only pray he has filed libel against the citizens who have attempted to ruin this young mans good name and it doubles or triples the monies he has had to spend. Maybe he is not as "stupid" as you think, perhaps thats a word that better describes you all.

mudcat
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Herr Richter is just following orders

so it is certainly possible that "he knows nuuuuutttthhhing"

madmike
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Mudcat... think you are right

Seems like Jim is getting his talking points from someone and just relaying the information. Don't know Jim but based on his posts, that would be my guess. Wishful thinking on the part of Haddix and his league of supporters (both of them, including his wife) to want the world to think he is getting that full fat paycheck each month, but I double-checked prior to my post that the deductions began in July.

borntorun
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Thanks madmike

Thanks

borntorun
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madmike

Couple of questions for you. Say Mr. Thaxton had not dropped the complaint, the committee heard testimony and deemed Donnie guilty. Since the committee had no power to fine or ask for restitution but did have the authority to make several recommendations. Who does the committee make recommendations to and who has the final say so in carrying them out?

madmike
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Borntorun, good question...

It is implied, but not specifically stated, that the recommendation of the board be carried out by the council and the city attorney. After the decision is implemented, the board has five days to submit recommendation to council.
If you are thinking that the PTC Ethics Code is poorly and loosely written, you are right. I have reviewed some other local ethics articles, and they all provide for the board to institute fines and other punishments. Also, the tendency is to have a "loser's pay" provision, whereas the burden of the cost of legal counsel is on the defendant, and if that defendant wins, then he/she can submit for reimbursement of "some" of those costs with restrictions on amount, hourly attorney fees, etc.
I would like to see the entire ethics code rewritten with a little more teeth in it and more specificity in how things should occur as in the example you brought up. This probably should be delayed until Haddix is gone, as he will fight for a code that favors him and his situation, since he is most likely to be the one to be the defendant in coming months.

madmike
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Dup

*

Spyglass
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So how much does he owe mow?

FMI

Spyglass
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So how much does he owe mow?

FMI

madmike
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Mow?

Since the Mayor lives in Dover Square I think all of the landscaping is included in his HOA dues so I don't think he mows very much at all.

Spyglass
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The M is close to the N on my keyboard.

:)

madmike
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Spyglass...

I know, just couldn't resist :)

Robert W. Morgan
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Well, at least his pay is still being withheld

And surely if Haddix hires an attorney to sue the city to overturn that, he'll have to pay for that out of his own pocket - won't he? Or is the world totally upside down now.

borntorun
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RWM: Donnie Pay

Maybe...maybe not, Dead DJ. Once again, the Citizen has been scooped. Per an article in the other Fayette news rag, Donnie has hired former Attorney General Mike Bowers and intends to sue the city for the pay reduction. Here's a partial quote from the article:

In retaliation for the council slashing his salary to repay the $12,000 in legal fees they said the city incurred, Mayor Don Haddix notified them on Monday of his intention to officially challenge their decision to reduce his salary.
On Monday, council was served with notice from attorney Michael Bowers, a managing partner in Atlanta-based law firm Balch & Bingham, LLP, that Haddix was filing a suit against the city unless the matter could be resolved within the next 30 days. Bowers is the former Attorney General of Georgia.
According to Bowers, Haddix intends to “assert, among other things, claims for declaratory judgement, injunction, conversion, breach of contract, attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses...”
“While the city council may have disagreed with the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency’s (GIRMA) decision to reimburse Mr. Haddix, the city council has no authority to use self-help methods to collect the amount of the reimbursement and other legal expenses from the salary of Mr. Haddix.
“First, the city council has no authority to reduce Mr. Haddix’s salary during his term.
“Second, approval of the annual budget and all budget amendments thereto are required to be approved by the mayor and council. Mr. Haddix did not approve the purported ‘budget amendment’ or ‘budget ordinance’.”
Bowers also noted the budget amendment “singles out Mr. Haddix and penalizes him for GIRMA’s decision to reimburse him; therefore it is a legislatively enacted punishment constituting a bill attainder and is void.”
Bowers said the city is liable for the ‘unlawful conversion’ of Haddix’s salary and if the city council does not authorize the payment of the salary currently owed and restoration of his salary, the members of the council are acting “oppressively, maliciously, corruptly, without authority of law and in bad faith.” Such actions, he noted, may subject each member to personal liability.
More than that, if the dispute wasn’t resolved “it is the citizens of Peachtree City that will suffer because their already limited resources will be wasted in defending the unlawful actions of the city council taken on June 7.”

Robert W. Morgan
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Well now, that leads to some interesting questions

First is why don't we read about something that relevant to our community in this publication? Maybe it will be in today's paper.

And why is a classy guy like Mike Bowers writing letters for da mayor? Publicity? Money? Ok on to the next question.

Did Bowers take this on a contingency basis where the city has to pay his fees after we lose? Or did Donnie actually write a check to him?

Council probably did overreach and will cave when they see the cost to defend their actions. If so I think Larry S. and some others will immediately get on with a lawsuit or another ethics complaint, although this time there will be no whining about the cost because we will be recruiting people who will be donating actual money to see this thing through. I will sure jump on that bandwagon. I think we can structure a lawsuit that recovers the $300/hour attorney fees for the city if he loses. At the very least, we know he hired the highest priced lawyer he could find just to rub the council's face in the excessive cost. It is a shame Mr. Thaxton knuckled under to that. Won't happen second time around.

madmike
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Dead DJ and The Citizen's "LATE" News

RWM, I have wondered the same thing. It seems lately the Fayette Daily News has had the jump on these stories. My guess, and it is only a guess, is whoever is feeding the preliminary stories from the city is aggravated with Cal and his sometimes apparent support of Haddix, and thus is slipping the story first to the Daily News. Who knows?
Personally, I don't think Cal is a Haddix lover... he is too smart for that. I do think he likes to sell papers and advertising, and controversy sells. Plus his supposed support of Haddix seems to be on principle, like the constitutionality of the issue, rather than support or respect for the Mayor.

RKS
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What about Mike Bowers...

...makes him classy? Seriously, go read up on the dude.

fay79isus
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Morgan--- you take the cake

First you sulk and cry about the election results. You and Mudcat are broken records on these blogs. I agree with the guy Bobby Alls-- now that the election is over, let's watch the folks who are in there and try to work with them. People like you with your incessant, reptitious attacks accomplish nothing.

Now you call Mike Bowers a "classy guy" ??? Wow, incredible. He had a velcro fly for ten years, was shamed from office and just recently went on a crusade to save Judge Pappy the Pervert English. Kinda like frat boys it seems. See article in today's Citizen "Judge Problem Continues". Note --- with Bowers pulling strings, neither Judge English nor his mistress/public defender were ever even reprimanded. And he is your hero?

You need to put down the bong before your blog.

NUK_1
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Bringing in the heavyweight attorney in Bowers

I think Haddix is going to win this one, though it's going to cost the PTC taxpayers even more money because the 4 Councilmembers had a tizzy and didn't think this through at all.

The best thing that can happen is that the voters simply get rid of Haddix next year and all of this drama and utter BS that does nothing but hurt the city ends once and for all. Haddix has had tons of opportunities to be a leader and has failed miserably. The rest of the Council hasn't elevated themselves while trying to correct the buffoonery of Haddix, but rather got submerged at his bottom feeder level. It needs to end in the voting booth and not the courtroom.

The Thaxton bit was another waste of time and money. I don't applaud him whatsoever. If you are going to make accusations and file charges, know the facts first instead of costing the City more money(you realize the City will eat the bill for the lawyer Don already hired)for nothing you wished to pursue when you realized what was going on. UGH.

pumpkin
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OMG

i love it when you know it all and support it all then come back with crap postings like this one. "Shoulda, woulda, coulda", perhaps you could live by your own rules. Please everyone go back and re read what this and others wrote BEFORE they found out the Mayor is not going to stand for your bla bla bla. Maybe when he wins this last one some of you may consider keeping your big mouths shut before you too "have a tizzy and dont think things through at all" "know the facts first instead of costing the City more money , you realize the City will eat the bill for the lawyer Don already hired."

You finally got something right and though it will cost the city, guess who brought that on, not our Mayor, god love him, the citizens and council have put this man through hell and I pray he wins, better yet feel confident he will win his day in court as he will so well deserve that win.

PTC Observer
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Nuk_1

Dead on, on this post. Total waste of money, the only benefit I see is that Mr. Haddix will be preoccupied and not able to engage in screwing things up more than they already are. Still it's not worth the money we will continue spend on this issue.

MYTMITE
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PTC and Nuk, you are so right. There are some on this blog

who would never be content. Yet they sit on their duffs and do nothing except bitch and complain and accomplish nada. Now Morgan is talking about another ethics charge with big donors backing the charges. Sounds more and more like sour grapes and someone with too much time on their hands. First off, if council felt they needed to recoup the money paid in the Logsdon case then they should have researched the situation legally and with consideration to what it would do to our community, especially financially in the event of a law suit. Evidently, Imker thought he had all the answers, as he always does, and plowed ahead. So, the usual suspects on this site got a lot of mileage out of that situation. Then Mr. Thaxton, a public spritied citizen, I am sure, jumps in, again without looking at all the implications. When Mr. Thaxton and, I imagine, Imker and the rest realized what all this was going to cost they backpedaled. Now the city may be on the spot for the atty fees for Haddix in that case also. Of course, the biggest loss is that MadMike cannot shine on the big stage as the CHAIRMAN, Imker and the others have to eat crow and again PTC is the loser. Let's hope that all the big talk about another ethics charge from Morgan is just that--big talk. Peachtree City cannot afford anymore of this foolishness. Maybe, if the city learned they are unable legally to recoup this money through decreased salary or any other way, it is time to fold up their tents and give it up. After all, the people of PTC put Haddix into office by a majority vote, if he should decide to run again, the people again will vote as they see fit.

mudcat
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He is not talking about another ethics charge now

And he certainly isn't sitting on his hands like many do. This thing has now morphed into a class-action lawsuit which can be created if enough people come forward and sign a statement that the mayor has misused a portion of their tax dollars. He is in Atlanta right now with 2 other guys from here. No names coming from me, but one would really surprise most people, the other not at all. I saw them drive by and he stopped and told me they were visiting King and Spalding or some such place to get the ball rolling and to be prepared if the city wimps out and gives him his salary back.

These guys are serious.

LessThan3PTC
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Pray about it?

Yes, praying about it should definitely get the taxpayers money back. *eyeroll*

pumpkin
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THATS RIGHT MAYOR STAND YOIUR GROUND

these people act to stir it up and keep it going, look for their other postings on issues. More of the same old bla bla bla if not this something else, they kept something going with Logsdon when he was in office, and will do it yet again when Haddix is gone, yet they have never sat in the mayor seat and have no earthly idea what goes on day to day at city hall. Maybe one of you 'know it alls' should run. Guess there will always be mobs but these poor examples of good citizens are just a group of lynch mobs and they just won't let it rest. Each could be doing so much more good if they would only put their minds (you note i did not say mouths) to it. We are all tired of hearing about it, the same repeat of the story when this group picks something else out. Pray about it and move on people.

Spyglass
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I pray Haddix repays the City and resigns..

But I doubt the Lord cares about this.

NUK_1
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"No idea what goes on at City Hall day to day?"

Speak for yourself and your own ignorance as far as whether bloggers know what goes on at City Hall day to day. YOU may have no idea, but that hardly means no one else does, Mrs. Haddix.

pumpkin
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SICK SICK SICK

you and fat husband must be a couple. No you big gossips not "Mrs Haddix". I can just imagine she would have far more to say than I do. Not even a personal friend or neighbor, certainly someone who has met them, certainly someone who has been employed at city hall and certainly someone who is concerned, who votes and lived here more years than you probably are old.

Husband and Fat...
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Amen

Thank you Mrs. Haddix