UPDATED OPINION — Come let us reason together

Cal Beverly's picture

A COLUMN OF OPINION, UPDATED WITH ALL THE LETTERS — After Thursday night’s historically unprecedented Peachtree City Council action, we could use some reason. What we’ve got is raw political opportunism, self-righteous posturing, gross abuse of power and an almost textbook violation of the U.S. Constitution and Georgia Constitution.

To recap, the council voted 4-to-1 to garnish the monthly salary of Mayor Don Haddix. He goes from the princely sum of $750 a month down to $75. They didn’t call it garnishment because that would be an illegal action.

(For those who respect the U.S. Constitution and the Georgia Constitution, I suggest you look up "Bill of Attainder." See footnote below. Also, click on the attachment link following this column for the correspondence provided by Peachtree City.)

Councilman Eric Imker, seeing an opening to humiliate and irreparably wound his council nemesis, took up the torch and the noose to lead a political lynching. Imker called the action a move to recover an unexpected expense in a budget line item. [Imker responds in this letter to the editor received after print deadline.]

The stated reason for the council action was to recover more than $10,000 that Imker said he had calculated Haddix had cost the city during the legal defense of a libel suit against Haddix.

My opinion is this: The council majority has become the equivalent of the pro-union mobs in Wisconsin. They have decided to run a legally elected official out of office, stripping him of even his salary, with no thought of due process or constitutional rights or any such legal niceties.

The rough-shod majority exercised a punitive confiscation of an elected official’s pay with no hearing of criminal or ethical charges, no substantive notice, no laying of a legal foundation or establishing what prior council precedents have been consulted and followed. Not even a legal opinion in public from the city attorney.

The council has acted precipitously and without legal or political precedent in Peachtree City history, probably without precedent in Georgia’s long and checkered history.

A council majority has turned its power of the purse into a weapon aimed at a single member of council.

That’s a breathtakingly naked abuse of power, however satisfying a result it may seem to a vocal segment of Peachtree City residents, a few of whom who seem to be suffering from the localized version of the well-known leftist Bush Derangement Syndrome of the earlier part of the previous decade.

This is wrong on so many levels, not the least the council’s arrogance that they have the plenary power to abrogate an elected official’s constitutional right of due process.

The council has without a trial and certainly without the slightest semblance of stating a legal justification — a law, an ordinance, a rule, anything — convicted in a public meeting this duly elected official of misappropriation of city funds and sentenced him to the penalty of humiliation and loss of compensation.

The accused was allowed only a statement after the matter was decided, off camera, by the four members of the majority colluding in a proceeding that has never been done before in Peachtree City, never before in Fayette County and probably never before in the state of Georgia.

He was afforded no opportunity to present witnesses, precedents or supporting documents at this staged faux morality play.

The four — Imker, Kim Learnard, Vanessa Fleisch, and George Dienhart — have demeaned the concept of justice.

Incredibly short-sighted about the precedent they have set, the council majority apparently has not been troubled by the thought that the same naked abuse of power could be turned against any one of them who fall out of favor with the council majority in the future.

Any one of them could be sued for any frivolous reason by a deep-pockets adversary in their “private individual” capacity and not their “official” capacity. And any one of them could be bankrupted by such a lawsuit, regardless of the merit of the action. But that thought never crossed their self-righteous minds.

Has Peachtree City government fallen so far into dysfunction that its majority believes it is empowered to silence an elected individual’s right to free speech in the political arena and to strip the salary from a public official that the majority decides is sufficiently out of favor with the majority and the public?

If Haddix wrongfully took city money, legal steps are available to prove that contention and legal avenues are available to penalize him, or any elected official who is convicted in a court of law.

Recall him, if you have grounds that will withstand legal scrutiny and an informed electorate. Outvote him on every occasion with your 4-to-1 majority. But don’t pretend that what you have done has ever been been done before to anybody elected to public office in this city, this county.

This was no court of law, and the council’s extra-legal power play likely would not stand up in a true court of law.

Whatever you think of the hapless Haddix and his unerring ability to say or do the outrageously wrong thing, somebody has to throw a flag and call a foul.

Consider this as the whistle. Wait a minute, people — this is just flat wrong.

Haddix did a series of stupid things, but no one has seriously suggested so far that he broke any law or even any city ordinance.

And in the scheme of things — including an Imker-pushed pool bubble that is ballooning toward three-quarters of a million dollars in direct costs to Peachtree City taxpayers for a facility that likely less than 5 percent of city taxpayers ever use or even set foot in — the $10,000 city reimbursement of a liability insurance deductible is a rounding error in the city budget.

The cause of the mob action has its genesis in an email Haddix sent to one now-departed city employee arguing against extending hours for alcohol sales at local watering holes. It was Haddix acting in his official capacity as mayor explaining why he as a public official objected to the proposed change in the city ordinance.

Agree or disagree with his position: It was city business.

He basically said even former Mayor Harold Logsdon was against extending alcohol sale hours. He stupidly used one hyphenated and artless term that he probably sincerely believed.

That email to the one city employee somehow got disseminated and came to the attention of Logsdon, who cried, “Libel!” and demanded a Haddix apology. (Wonder how that email got to Logsdon?)

Never one to take an easy way if a hard way is available, Haddix declined to apologize, resulting in court action.

Eventually, Haddix must have decided to throw in his cards and pay Logsdon $3,000. Presumably, the rest of the 10 grand was for Haddix’s attorney or other legal fees.

Continuing his stupid process, Haddix failed to inform the rest of the council that the city by contract was on the hook for reimbursing the city’s liability carrier.

By now the anti-Haddix voices were in full-throated aggrieved howl. Bring out the torches and the rope; let’s find a suitable tree.

That tree was a Thursday council meeting and the rope handlers were four otherwise intelligent people caught up in the blood lust: Finally, we’ve got him!

Don Haddix is bull-headed and apparently cannot admit when he is wrong. He has a tendency — not unknown in political circles — of taking credit for stuff that he is not entitled to take credit for.

And he has the remarkable ability to cause otherwise reasonable people to foam at the mouth and gnash their teeth. He resembles a previous mayor in that regard.

The column’s title is from Isaiah 1:18, at the very beginning of a book in which God is beseeching a people to get some perspective about something beyond themselves.

There are some important principles involved here, but not the false flags being advanced by Imker and Councilwoman Learnard and the other two.

The entire Peachtree City Council is in dire need of some reasonable perspective, some sense of proportion, some respect for precedent, some deferral to normal political processes.

The costs they have visited upon the Peachtree City body politic in their overarching arrogance are far beyond the $10,000 being waved by ambitious majority members like a bloody shirt.

Perhaps Mr. Imker is learned enough to remember a famous rebuke of Senator Joseph McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]

*FOOTNOTE of the relevant portions of the U.S. Constitution, the Georgia Constitution, federal case law and a Federalist viewpoint —

The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 provides that: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”

“The Bill of Attainder Clause was intended not as a narrow, technical (and therefore soon to be outmoded) prohibition, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function or more simply — trial by legislature.” U.S. v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437, 440 (1965).

“These clauses of the Constitution are not of the broad, general nature of the Due Process Clause, but refer to rather precise legal terms which had a meaning under English law at the time the Constitution was adopted. A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them, without benefit of trial. Such actions were regarded as odious by the framers of the Constitution because it was the traditional role of a court, judging an individual case, to impose punishment.” William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, page 166.

“Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. ... The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community.” James Madison, Federalist Number 44, 1788.

From the Georgia Constitution —

Georgia Constitution, Article I, Section 1

Paragraph I. Life, liberty, and property. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law.

Paragraph X. Bill of attainder; ex post facto laws; and retroactive laws. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, retroactive law, or laws impairing the obligation of contract or making irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities shall be passed.

AttachmentSize
Haddix-letter to GMA.pdf1.38 MB
Citizen_Steve
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Where's the Cartoonist?

It's all so comical - how I wish The Citizen had an editorial cartoonist.

johenry
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Show Haddix, Imker, Learnard and Fleisch the door!

The immaturity we get day after painful day from this bunch is pitiful!!!

They're like a group of spoiled school girls just gossiping and pulling each others hair.

It looks like Dienhart wants to join Eric Imker, Kim Learnard, Vanessa Fleisch in publicly humiliating the people they hate.

Betsy Tyler
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GIRMA invoice, check request, and City Attorney Letter(s)

All -

I'm going to post this on both stories where the discussion continues.

John Munford requested a copy of the GIRMA invoice, check request, and the City Attorney's letter to GIRMA on May 14. The City Attorney, Mr. Meeker, provided John Munford with a copy of his correspondence within the hour. I provided the GIRMA bill and check request that same day as well.

As with all our GIRMA bills, they come to the Human Resources Department, who process the payment request. The request is then signed by the division director, which in this case (Administrative Services) is being handled by the City manager.

These are open records available for inspection. You can request to see them directly by emailing me at info@peachtree-city.org.

Thanks!
Betsy

dar thompson
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Really...

I don't have a dog in the fight but I can't say I agree with how the council has handled this situation. This is a legal issue. Allow due process to deal with the problem.

I don't usually see eye to eye with Mr. Beverly's position but will say, in my opinion, he is on point here.

Mr. Haddix made a bad decision and used bad judgement. This council and every council before them have made bad decisions and used bad judgements which cost the tax-payers a heck of a lot more than $10,000. As Cal mentioned the council continues to keep a pool and field house open that cost the tax-payers more than $500,000.00 to $700,000.00 a year or better said $10,000 to $15,000 per week. Crumbs compared to these latest chain of events. What say you, council?

What is worse, council has ignored options in the past that would remedy the problem. One would think they (council members) would at least consider the process, to seek possible solutions. The request for a remedy have been ignored. Why aren't they held liable for their actions? What have they cost the tax-payer?

This is the same group that allowed 16 acres on Highway 54 to become the future trainwreck and downfall of the west-side of Peachtree City. It will all start with a Racetrac or Quick Trip heading the vision. Can't wait to see what comes next. What an absolute joke. All because no one was pro-active in the process.

Just curious if they (council, present and past)should be asked to make up the difference for their bad decisions which cost citizens much more than $10,000? I think not...remember we have no one to blame but ourselves as we elected such officials.

All said, I'm just asking!

mudcat
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Oh, dreamboat. Wish you did have a dog in this fight

The Kedron pool is beyond belief and I am certainly with you on that one. Want to check it out tonight? You and your dog? 10 is good for me.

Wow, I have the vapors. Anyhoo, the bridge to nowhere is a decades old embarrassment and of course the failing commercial property over there is a testament to the flawed thinking of the Brown (2nd) and Logsdon city councils.

Don't think anything good is going to happen over there - Dollar Store being an anchor? Geeez.

SPQR
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vapors

my google research on "the vapors" seems to have evaporated.

GeorgeDienhart
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Kedron Pool and Council

Dar- I'd love to talk to you regarding the Kedron Pool.

I also agree with Borntorun. The difference is that past and previous councils were acting in their capacity as a council member. The mayor, regardless of his statements to the contrary, was not. Here’s a better comparison. Let’s say I work for The Citizen, and have a laptop and email issued to me by Cal. (We'll pretend I can write coherently). Let's also say I freelance on the side and sell a story to the AJC. I email it from my Citizen laptop and email account. After publication the subject of the article then says I slandered them in the AJC article, and sues me. After running up a bunch of legal expenses, I then settle. Who should be held accountable? Me or Cal? By the Mayors example, Cal would be financially responsible. By my reckoning, Cal had nothing to do with the lawsuit.

Unfortunately, any city council is going to make bad decisions, no matter who serves. Sometimes it may be due to bad information, or maybe the councilmember just didn’t see eye to eye with the majority of his constituents. Sometimes the electorate just clearly picked the wrong person. These situations should not be actionable, nor should the city be reimbursed for them. It’s the price we pay to be able to elect our representatives in government. Most of the time, it’s better to let the responsible members of the applicable legislative body manage the problem until the voters rectify the problem. Rarely, a recall or criminal charges may be in order. These options are expensive. Normally, the best possible course of action is to let the responsible members of government handle the problem in a responsible manner.

dar thompson
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George

I agree with you...bad decisions will always be made...no-one has a crystal ball. Truth be known, I've made many decisions that ultimately did not turn out as planned.

However, the decisions I'm referring to are decisions where council(s) have known what the potential out-come or down-side would be and just ignored the advise. A perfect example is the 16 acres on Hwy 54....the original four or five retail proposals were absolutely stunning and each one was turned down. Now you are going to end up with a Quick Trip and a mix-match of a variety of developers with no one common goal. This action de-values homes, it de-values property, and de-values Peachtree City.

Another issue is the Kedron Field House. A RFI was requested at one point but nothing ever happened. Kedron Field House and Pool will cost the tax-payer anywhere from 5 to 7 million dollars over a 10 year span. There were a variety of options put on the table but none were looked at seriously. They were pretty much ignored.

These are not mistakes or bad decisions, they are stupid decisions. Council(s) have been told by the Planning Commission what was going to happen to the 16 acres on Hwy 54 if council didn't act. Guess what...it happened, and now we have a trainwreck on our hands.

Call me at my office and we can set up a time to talk.

Mike King
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Councilman Dienhart

"Most of the time, it’s better to let the responsible members of the applicable legislative body manage the problem until the voters rectify the problem."

Your words. Given the fact that this 'problem' has been ongoing for two and one-half years now, and I'm sure you agree that by all measures the 'problem' is getting worse. What would be your solution since you are a member of the applicable legislative body?

I'm certain your constituents would like to know.

GeorgeDienhart
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Mike King

I recognize the problem, but an ethics complaint would be covered by GIRMA and our local ordinance. We would wind up paying even more for the Mayors legal defense- remember it's a $50,000 deductible. A lawsuit and special election would be even more expensive. Ideally, the mayor will look deep within himself and decide that he can no longer effectively lead this city, and resign. By making his resignation effective on Jan 1, we would not have to hold a special election. At that point the Mayor Pro Tem (likely Vanessa Fleish) would finish his term.

If he won't resign, we as a council will need to continue to do damage control. Not an ideal situation, but it is the most fiscally sound solution. It's all up to the Mayor. We can move forward without any additional expenditure to the city, or the Mayor can choose a course that causes the city to spend a great deal more.

As for the future, we'll have to see what it brings. I can't comment on actions that have yet to occur. For my part, I do promise to be fair, yet diligent in any future alleged irregularities. I have faith my fellow Council members will do the same.

madmike
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True George but...

keep in mind the council does not determine whether an ethics complaint is brought. Anyone can file an ethics complaint with the city clerk if they believe an ethical violation has occurred by a city employee. The only caveat is that it must be filed within 90 days of the alleged impropriety. That complaint then goes to the ethics board (made up of citizens) for resolution and penalty.
There is nothing in the Code that suggests that the cost of this process should be weighed against the alleged harm done to determine whether and ethics hearing should move forward. In contrast, the whole purpose of the ordinance is to allow citizens to have a venue for holding all city employees accountable for their actions based on their positions, especially those who take an oath of office.

GeorgeDienhart
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MadMike

You are correct- anyone can make an ethics complaint. I was just stating my belief that it would be less expensive for the city to let Council manage the problem. I will always support a citizen exercising their rights- though I may also point out the cost of doing so. In this case the cost is additional legal fees. It's all up to the citizens of Peachtree City.

madmike
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Mr. Dienhart...

Absolutely, the cost of litigation in an ethics complaint would be borne by the taxpayers and that is a shame. I wish it were set up as a "loser pays" system. Either way, thanks for keeping an eye on the city coffers!

NUK_1
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I agree with you, George

Keep up the good work!

borntorun
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Really dar?

Really? Bad decision? Bad judgement? Really? No not really. Slander and/or defamation of character go beyond the realm of a bad decision and bad judgement. Those are legal charges and Donnie was hit with a lawsuit by the former mayor accusing him of said charges. And while I agree with you the council votes you reference were bad ones, there was nothing illegal about them. Apples and oranges. Whether or not council acted appropriately with docking Donnie's pay I don't know. I guess as this soap opera plays out, that will come out in the wash. But first things first. What was in the third letter authored by Ted Meeker at the direction of Donnie that caused GIRMA to reverse two previous rulings that this was a personal matter and not city business? That is the crux of this whole sorry episode. The Dead DJ said Cal is in possession of that letter. If so, why has Cal not released it? Let's hope when tomorrow's print edition of the Citizen comes out, Cal will do the right thing and publish all three letters.

mudcat
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Have I been deprived of life, Liberty, property, etc? Yep

Cool, Cal nice quote. Want to see it again? Right here copied from Cal's diatribe.

Paragraph I. Life, liberty, and property. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law.

So what about me? Did Donnie take my life, liberty or property? Bet your sweet bippy he did.

Then I ask, does this wonderful old timey quote have a dollar amount attached to it? If not, I would suggest and insist that my share of the $10,000 that Haddix The Heine took from the city is certainly depriving me of property/money/tax dollars and maybe even liberty since his antics force businesses away from PTC, which could increase my taxes and maybe make fewer tax dollars available for recreation. And was there due process of law there when he hired an outside attorney and did not ask council for support?

Come on Cal, defend this guy if you must, but get real - he's a bozo and now a crook - and you are going to go with this? -------Paragraph I. Life, liberty, and property. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law? Geeez.

Don't I have rights as well? This dopey little man abuses the system and you think he has constitutional rights that cancel out mine or yours? Come on Cal. You live her as well - don't you? Think it through. Haddix is stealing your tax dollars.

Haddix is not owed due process unless he has been charged with a crime. He has not been. Accused in the blogs, maybe. But not charged. City council has done the right thing here. Now it is up to Haddix to respond or better yet - to resign.

PTC Observer
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BTW - Cal

Why didn't the city attorney render an opinion on this action by the council?

Was he distracted?

Robert W. Morgan
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City attorney

My guess is the city attorney is involved in this up to his neck. He must have given someone an opinion that gave comfort to whoever writes checks. Whether it was simply a wrong opinion or a wrong opinion influenced by misleading facts that were given to him, we don't know - but of course it eventually all comes out.

I have been told that the mystery letter was released to The Citizen, so I am confident that it will appear in tomorrow's paper. Can't imagine Cal holding it back without any comment. Certainly no reason to do that unless he thinks releasing it will get him sued, which is hard to imagine since he properly used the Open Records system.

abeautifulday4us
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I agree--- PTC Council action is very

I agree--- PTC Council action is very intriguing. It would make a Grisham novel. I agree PTCO--- I want to see the letter and find out what really happened "behind the scenes".

PTC Observer
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Cal - I am

I am convinced by this and I think a provision should be put in place that all our council members should have their compensation adjusted to zero.

Or Mr. Haddix's compensation should be restored.

The only path forward is through the courts to have the money returned to the citizens.

Now we need the letter authored by our city attorney on behalf of Mr Haddix.

If there is no legal recourse then a recall effort is justified. Either way this is going to cost our citizens money because of one man's actions. So much for "service" to our community.

borntorun
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Hogwash, Cal!

Whether or not Council was within it's legal authority to dock Donnie's pay or not I don't know and neither do you. I guess if he sues, we will find out. I find it hard to believe that the other four council members would have taken such a draconian action without seeking legal advice first. But if they didn't and the courts rule they were not within their legal authority to do so, then shame on them.

However, to say that the basis for the lawsuit was within "city business" is a bunch of hooey. Yes, the discussion about the merits of extending sale of alcohol hours was city business. But as Dienhart said and I'm paraphrasing here, what part of the mayor's duties and responsibilities allowed Donnie to accuse the former mayor of being part drunk at council meetings? The answer is none. Once Donnie put that in an email, he crossed the line and it became a personal legal matter between the former mayor and Donnie. Just because Donnie was stupid enough to put that in a city email does not make it "city business".

And apparently I'm not the only one who believes that. Apparently, so did Donnie himself and Ted Meeker. If it was "city business", why did Donnie hire his own personal attorney at his own expense rather than utilize the city attorney? The same attorney who by the way had been involved in litigation against the city which I believe Meeker said in a council meeting was a conflict. Of all the lawyers in town, why did Donnie hire this particular one?

And didn't Meeker, a lawyer by trade and city attorney who should have a good grasp on this issue, advise Donnie from the get-go that this was a personal matter and not "city business"?

Which leads to the question, why did Meeker even write the letter after telling Donnie that the matter was a personal issue and not city business? Was he pressured into writing it by Donnie? And just what was in that letter that was different than the other two?

Your statement also about poor Donnie not being afforded an opportunity to present witnesses, precedents or supporting documents is also hogwash. This sorry chapter in our city's history has been been playing out for several weeks now. Donnie has had plenty of time to produce said information, witnesses and documentation if he wanted to. But being the small headed stubborn man he is, he has refused to do so. All he's done is run around screaming that he was entitled to the money from GIRMA.

It's your paper Cal and I guess that allows you to be judge and jury about those of us who see this action taken by Donnie as flat out wrong, but your bully pulpit tactics and name calling against those of us who believe that Donnie should repay the money is questionable journalism and not productive to a final resolution on this stain on our city.

Indeed, you or John Munford could put to rest some of the questions and speculation some of us have if you would release all three letters sent to GIRMA. Most of us believe there was something different in the third letter authored by Ted Meeker that caused GIRMA to do a 180 and pay Donnie. Why are you not producing it? Or at the very least contact GIRMA and ask for a clarification. It's no secret that you supported Donnie in the mayor's election. Does that have anything to do with the reason? Just askin'!

Sad to say but if John Grisham is looking for material for his next legal novel, there's more than enough of it happening right here in PTC.

wheeljc
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The Jewel of Fayette Should Review What EGOTISM Did for the USA

Well said Cal, though it is sad that it had to be articulated!

30269 has been the crown jewel of Fayette County, and to an even larger degree, the Metro area. 30269 has been nationally sited as the place to live; the place to raise families; and kudos provided the school system.

Why do self absorbed politicians have to consistently fuel their egos by staging shows of SELF IMPORT on the SMALL STAGE? A larger question: WHAT BENEFIT HAS IT GARNERED THE CITIZENS OF 30269?

DC is full of individuals afflicted with egotistical loquaciousness. WHAT GOOD HAS IT DONE FOR THE USA? It appears the affliction has spread to PTC.

Please citizens, find some folks who possess a desire for selfless service the next election cycle!

SPQR
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mouse

City council. It sort of looks like you killed a mouse with a 44 magnum.

Mike King
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Might Cooler Heads Prevail?

A well written and soon to be well received opinion piece by our editor. My comment serves not to defend either the Council nor our Mayor for they all have "skeletons" lurking within their closet space. I dare say there are few more ardent opponents of the mayor than myself, and I wholeheartedly believe the monies he appropriated in his legal defense should be borne personally, not by public funds.

In reading the comments this morning I see that the rumor of the 'third letter' still exists to which I must say that Mr Mumford received it hours from his original request. Has anyone heard John or anyone associated with The Citizen deny they had it?

What we have now is a public witch hunt, much of it based upon innuendo and certainly without due process. In short, what we have created is our mayor being victimized by a zealot majority who raised the uniformed ire of this community by their act of terminating one of the most influential city employees(Gaddo) under the guise of reorganization. If this were two centuries earlier and our town was named Salem, I wonder where the bonfire would be.

All that aside, history has demonstrated again and again that America loves an underdog. Has our council now created that underdog? Have they not created a victim? If the answer is in the affirmative, and they by their actions have insured the mayor's longevity, they have done Peachtree City a disservice.

I'll not support our mayor's actions, but nor will I support an official who in my opinion places the well being of our city beneath posturing for potential personal gain. Further, should they not foresee the future costs in litigation shouldered by those they represent, then they have demonstrated a crucial lack of foresight and judgement.

Just my opinion.

mudcat
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OK John, isn't the wording of the 3rd letter newsworthy?

Maybe damaging to someone? Maybe it is as innocent as Haddix's attorney or Haddix himself wrote the first two letters and the city attorney wrote the third letter - implying that the request had the blessing of the city attorney and might even be legal. Might be good to have that out there for consideration by the readers.

I tend to agree with Mike and Cal and others that council may have done the right thing, but possibly skipped a couple of steps. Important steps. I sure do understand their frustration and how they probably felt they needed to do something - and quickly. That being said, this whole thing does have a bit of grandstanding about it.

Mr. King your concern about the mayor obtaining credentials as the poor innocent victim of a political witch hunt is reasonable, but this mayor is so incompetent and unlikeable that it would not be possible for him to fake the humility that is part of the victim package. The minute he opens his mouth, it is all over.

And a lawsuit? Imagine him on the witness stand answering questions about virtually everything he has done to embarrass the city. And to explain that slandering the former mayor is part of his job description. We can only hope for a jury trial.

Robert W. Morgan
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Headline Jan. 2013: Haddix testifies in lawsuit against the city

Let's say he sues to get his salary back. Fine, depositions are taken, mystery letter entered into evidence, city attorney put on the stand and says nothing citing attorney-client confidentiality. Now it is Mr. Haddix's turn:

CITY'S HIRED ATTORNEY - "Why are you suing the city, Mr. Haddix?"
HADDIX: "To get my mayor's salary back"
ATTORNEY: "Who took your salary away?"
HADDIX: "City Council"
ATTORNEY: "Why did they do that?
HADDIX: "They hate me. It is all political"
ATTORNEY: "Is that what they said?"
HADDIX: "No"
ATTORNEY: "What did they say?"
HADDIX: "I can't answer on the grounds that my answer might incriminate me in a crime"
ATTORNEY: Really? What crime?"
HADDIX: "Taking money from the city - whoops, I mean I have to plead the 5th on that"

Methinks his lawsuit ends at this point. Can he not see that?

Spyglass
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Who caused the problem?

Who is responsible? The Mayor.

As a Citizen of PTC, I'm glad the Council did something...

Cal, keep stirring, it suits you.

yellowjax1212
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Brace Yourself

Brace yourself everyone but, I must agree with Cal on this one (I know even typing that made my fingers feel funny).
There are procedures to remove politicians from office for just cause but arbitrarily docking their pay is not one of them. Our Constitution was designed to not allow an elected official to be restrained, restricted or controlled by altering the purse strings. It was mainly designed to protect judges from getting undue pressure from individual politicians, councils, etc., in order to influence legal judgements.
Don Haddix has been an embarrassment to PTC since his election and needs to be out of office but this is not the correct or legal way to do it.
I am not an attorney but I think you would find that legal opinion on this would say that Don would likely win a legal challenge on Constitutional grounds. It would also (as Don commented/hinted) cost the taxpayers money to fight a losing battle.
Would the Mayor drag the city through an ugly court battle to attempt to salvage even a modicum of his reputation (and give the finger to the council)? You bet he would. Because like the Honeybadger, Don Haddix don't care.
Is Don Haddix arrogant? Yes he is.
Has he forever raised the bar to new heights of "bad Mayors" in PTC? Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Should we have seen this coming? Yes - and that falls on us the voters for not getting to know the candidates and allowing Don to stir the anti- incumbent pot to a froth (the same anti-incumbent attitude that still drives too many voters).
Should Don resign? Yes but I don't see that happening with his ego.
Should the remaining council be allowed to drive him out of office by taking his pay away? NO! Proper, legal procedures must be followed.
My guess is a recall effort would be the quickest and cleanest way to do this. Show me a recall list and I will gladly sign it.
Is there any chance a new candidate will ride in on a white horse to save PTC government? I sure hope so because what we have now has become an embarrassment of egos and political agendas.

Robert W. Morgan
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Good sermon, Cal

A little preachy and I'm not sure I agree with your analogies, but it is well-written and thought-provoking.
1. Comparing city council to the pro-union mobs in Wisconsin and later to a lynch mob is really over the top. All they really did was dock his pay which is the quickest, easiest and most importantly the cheapest path to recover the diverted taxpayer dollars.
2. Saying the blogging community, which you must love is similar to the "Butttttt, Bushhhh!" silliness is a bit insulting. I know we even have a few of them on these blogs still spewing that nonsense, but as a group we are pretty united on Haddix with what I think is a reasonable position - He's an embarrassment to Peachtree City, he's a distraction to city government and now he has stolen city money for personal use and he has to go. A recall, you say? You know full well that the political apathy around here would doom that from the start. A lawsuit - you bet. Sign me up. But now, thanks to council, we won't have to pay for a lawsuit to get our money back.
3. And Eric Imker is not Joe McCarthy, R-WI. Haddix might be a better comparison to McCarthy as they have both been censured, tend to overstate their past accomplishments and have no friends - political or otherwise. Personally I prefer comparing Steve Brown's relentless search for hidden developers to McCarthy's Commie witch hunt, but I digress.

As to the main issue, you seem to worry that recovering the city's money in this way without due process (the ability to produce witnesses, etc) or legal precedent is somehow a problem. Well, I don't. Haddix's actions violate due process and this and other of his actions are certainly without precedent - I mean even Steve Brown stopped short of libel and theft and in complete fairness to Mr. Brown, I am certain he would never cross the line legally as Haddix has done.

I applaud council for taking this unusual step without due process or precedent. Sure enough Haddix can sue to get his salary back. Hope he does. Sure future councils may feel comfortable docking the pay of a future mayor or councilmember this far out of step - and should because we stupidly elect people like this. We need to be saved from ourselves. I think council has set a precedent - a good one and if it is not disputed and overturned, it can become the gold standard for dealing with goofy, publicity seeking elected officials everywhere. Other cities and counties can follow our lead. Congrats to council - new motto - Lead, follow or get out of the way, Don.

cogitoergofay
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Mr. Morgan, your bias causes you

Mr. Morgan, your bias causes you to miss several very important points raised by the Editor of this newspaper. The Constitution was ignored. All of Haddix's acts happened regarding City business. And, the insurance company determined that Haddix's acts were public acts and paid him back. Why? Because the City Attorney's letter, apparently written on behalf of his client, the City, asked them to. Where is the letter? What happened in that letter that differed from Haddix's request? The City attorney and staff participated in a concealment of (1) the application to the insurance company and (2) the check cut back to the insurance company. Why were none of those employees' paychecks not docked ? In fact, $3,000 of the money goes to the City Attorney.

You say "I applaud council for taking this unusual step without due process or precedent." That sounds frightening synonymous with a rousing support of the Nuremburg laws or a beer hall putsch. What a frightening course of reasoning. You, sir, suggested that Mr. Logsdon would receives piles of money in his lawsuit. He settled for the paltry sum of $3,000.

This case (as Editor Beverly has taken the time to detail) is not about Mayor Haddix or about Don Haddix the individual. It is about the legal process of law. Haddix does not have the money to challenge it in court. Council and their lawyer know that. That is why this went down. And, the absence of review is what causes an obvious series of Open Government violations in this City.

When the weak have no remedy or recourse from the utilitarian convenience you favor, Mr. Morgan, Americans should rightly shudder.

Well written opinion, Mr. Beverly. Expect few to support it.

Robert W. Morgan
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Beer hall putsch? Nuremburg? $3,000 to city attorney?

and piles of money to Logsdon? And the best one of all - "the weak have no remedy or recourse from the utilitarian convenience (I) favor?

Imker may actually be German and in uniform a credible movie Nazi in appearance only, but he and the others don't deserve the name-calling. All they did was dock the mayor's pay. Haddix did far worse things than that and the Nazi's (a progressive, socialist political party led by a community organizer born outside the country's borders) were the world's utmost example of bad behavior. I fear the Democrats in Washington and elsewhere much more than I do Kimmy and Vanessa and the jarhead. I say that with affection, George. Semper Fi!

The remedy for the weak (as you seem to be calling Haddix) is for the weak to keep his big fat mouth shut so he doesn't get into trouble.

I have never seen anything that indicates the city attorney received $3,000. Where did that come from? I saw $3,000 to Logsdon and $6,000 split between Lindsey and Mrosek.

cogitoergofay
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Correction on your facts, Mr. Morgan----

Correction on your facts, Mr. Morgan----

The amount docked from Haddix pay was $12,000. It included the reimbursement of just less than $10,000 to Haddix ($3,000 paid to Logsdon; Haddix fees of under $7,000) as well as the $2,700 or so the City Attorney has been paid:

"To help recoup what has become more than $12,000 in legal fees spent to defend Mayor Don Haddix from a libel lawsuit, the Peachtree City Council voted to give him a significant pay cut."

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/06-07-2012/ptc-council-cuts-mayor%E2%...

PTC Observer
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Cal - Haddix

Well put and received by this reader. But writing that phrase concerning the former mayor on a city e-mail server is a misuse of a city asset and is specifically against the city's communications policy. The city gave Mr. Haddix no permission to use its assets in this way to demean another citizen. He misused the city's property, he hired a personal attorney to take care of a personal matter, he hid the fact that he was requesting repayment and finally he stated that the citizens that paid for this "repayment" had no business knowing about it.

Mr. Haddix did not follow proper procedure in getting his personal expenses re-payed by the city. In fact he hid the fact that he was even doing it. The city attorney failed to inform the city council of such a request even when the attorney knew that the payment would fall under the city deductible.

Personally, I think the entire council should be voluntary and receive no pay whatsoever. That would solve the entire issue of compensation for "service" to the city. It will be interesting to see the letter that Mr. Meeker wrote on behalf of Mr. Haddix.

This reader has no political agenda, I like many other citizens of this fair city feel we have been cheated out of our money for something that related to a personal matter. Mr. Haddix should pay us back and live up to his personal obligations. Being elected does not automatically give a politician a blank check to say or do whatever he wants to do. I think this is what Watergate was all about. Mr. Haddix should return our money, and soon.

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