Peachtree City government gone awry

Scott Bradshaw's picture

I have a suggestion. The Peachtree City Council can spit in the face of taxpayers by forming a special corporation to dole out more than a half million dollars of hotel-motel tax receipts with little accountability. The council can register the new corporation with the Secretary of State as a “non profit” making it appear harmless.

City Manager Bernie McMullen can be designated as the registered agent and the city’s Director of Finance Paul Salvatore will be the chief financial officer of the corporation.

McMullen and Salvatore are honorable men and dedicated public servants who will resist the scheme. They can, however, be persuaded if their employers vigorously twist their arms.

The City Council will have the benefit of appointing political cronies to the board of directors while really sticking it to the taxpayers. The imaginary corporation will operate under its own by-laws and rules can change as the corporate directors see fit.

Once established, the officers of the corporation will sign a lucrative contract with the City Council to expend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to avoid the hassle of public scrutiny. The corporate veil can’t be pierced so business dealings can be as secretive as the CEO and corporate directors choose.

This arrangement can be the spendthrift’s utopia. They can write checks without the burden of silly public hearings and embarrassing disclosures. They can even pay their friend, Lauren Yawn, an annual salary of $92,000 to oversee the dirty trick.

Those who think this can’t happen in Peachtree City are dead wrong! The situation exists today and it is called the Peachtree City Tourism Association, Inc. This untouchable corporation is a thorn in the side of the new mayor and City Council.

Readers can check the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division website and review the filings of the Peachtree City Tourism Association. The record shows that the association was incorporated in 2004 and Bernard J. McMullen, city manager, is the registered agent. Lauren Yawn replaced Paul Salvatore as chief financial officer and doubles as the chief executive officer.

Chief Executive Officer Lauren Yawn resigned from her post last Friday. Her resignation is effective March 5 and not a minute too soon. She had the solid support of the tourism board but was under considerable pressure from the mayor and council for reasons which will not be discussed in this column.

Yawn did little to justify her large salary except dole out grants after the previous council took management of the amphitheater and tennis center away from the tourism association. These changes were necessary primarily because of ineffective oversight of the two facilities.

Yawn’s hurried departure is the first step in resolving the government gone awry problem facing the council. It is now time to disband the Peachtree City Tourism Association and replace it with an entity better suited to oversee the expenditure of hotel-motel tax revenue.

Unfortunately, it appears that the arrogant members of the tourism board will thumb their noses at the council and attempt to replace Yawn immediately. They should not have the power.

Most local public authorities such as the Development Authority of Peachtree City were created by an act of the Georgia General Assembly at the request of the City Council and can be disbanded by similar legislative action. Other local entities such as the Peachtree City Recreation Commission are created by city ordinance and can be eliminated by majority vote of the City Council.

Incorporation of a city-funded authority, commission, or association such as the Peachtree City Tourism Association is unusual but not without precedent. A few development authorities and convention bureaus in Georgia are incorporated for liability purposes but the elected officials creating them retain control. This is not the arrangement in Peachtree City.

It is unfortunate that the Tourism Association, Inc., has legal standing and powers seldom awarded local government entities. The only requirements set forth in the articles of incorporation are that a budget is presented to the City Council annually and meeting minutes be placed on file at City Hall.

The council doesn’t even approve the budget and there is little control over board members once they are appointed.

In January, this writer made a strong case for the elimination of the Peachtree City Tourism Association. There was the expected resistance from the board and the general feeling is that the duly elected mayor and council don’t have the authority to dissolve the corporation or disband the group. The corporation can, however, dissolve itself by majority vote of the directors.

Council member Doug Sturbaum has represented the City Council on the tourism board since January. He is diligently working behind the scenes to deal with the problems of overstaffing, excessive salaries and bad attitudes. He should receive kudos for his efforts.

The members of the Board of Directors of the Peachtree City Tourism Association, Inc., are Bill Bexley, Kai Wolter, Joe Magennis, Veronica Ross, Kim Westwood, and Mark Ballard.

They hold the power to dissolve the corporation but don’t hold your breath until this event occurs. It is doubtful these political appointees have the appetite to follow Lauren Yawn out the door and relinquish their power.

It will require considerable public pressure to prevail in this sorry situation! This writer encourages citizens to contact the above corporate board members and demand that they schedule a vote to dissolve the corporation.

You will be astonished at their resistance to helping solve the government gone awry problem in Peachtree City.

Enough said!

[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. He may be contacted at rand5474@bellsouth.net.]

ptctrader2010
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TOURISM ASSOCIATION IS A JOKE!

Amazing that the "chair" of the Tourism Association had the time to chair this... But "ran"with his tail between his legs years ago when he served for 1 month as the chair of the Development Authority. So now they want to replace a salaried executive that has no real job function. Just Great!!! These shenanigans never cease to amaze me. Let's find a way for the City to figure out how to dissolve this Tourism Association, and focus on the volunteer boards that really need the support and have a real function.

Great Blog Scott!

Bonkers
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Scott: Tourism

I had no idea that such a job as you mentioned paid $92,000 per year!
And for total failure also! Couldn't a city clerk at city hall distribute the hotel tax money? Or maybe it should just go into the city's bank account for designated purposes!

What causes such delusions of grandeur such as this and the Tennis Center using taxpayer money. Of course the ones wanting this sort of thing say it is NOT a tax but a fee!

Yet, the details olf the big Tennis loan have yet to be published! We have got to start punishing people instead of just letting them leave as does the government.

TinCan
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Recourse?

If this "thing" can only be disbanded by itself how in the h-ll is it possible to get rid of it. Up until this point I though ol' S.B. was only a pain in the rear-end and not a fiscal disaster. Talk about financial shenanigans.

Robert W. Morgan
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S.B. was about as experienced as Prezbo and almost as dangerous

I doubt The Citzen has the cojones to report on the factual history of how this thing got formed and ol' S.B.'s role in it, but we shall see.

I do think the council has the right to direct the hotel/motel tax funding elsewhere (like to the Development Authority, for example) so even if Tourism won't disband, it will be powerless without funding. In fact, now that I think of it, that's exactly what they did under Brown when tourism was created. I think he was obsessed with Farr, Truitt, Fulton having power to spend without his say so. And of course he also suffers from achievement-envy.

Scott is correct, this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Hope the new council is up to the task.

When is the last time you saw a tourist in PTC? And we need a $92,000 staffer for that?

Please focus on economic development. It is important. It actually does create and save jobs.

Mike King
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Organized in 2004???

Let me see, could it be that this little cess pool was formulated under the Brown Administration? It obviously worked for Steve because old Harold saw fit to keep pumping money into it. Mr Brown will surely find some way to defend his actions or deflect responsibility now that his lack of managerial acumen is exposed. Harold will just deny knowledge of the problem as he seeks state office.

Dondol
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Oh the Webs we weave when we try to Deceive

Thank you Mr Bradshaw for opening our eyes to this one.
"The record shows that the association was incorporated in 2004 and Bernard J. McMullen, city manager, is the registered agent."
So my guess would be that this is the reason that we have as yet not been able to get rid our bumbling city Clown, I mean, City Manager Bernie Mac.

jevank
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Scott Bradshaw's Blog

I knew there had to be a political reason behind the resignation of Yawn. Thanks for the update, and I look forward to more discussions/investigations into the subject.

Bonkers
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to jevank

What was the political reason?

Authorities are a way for city officials not to have to supervise the entities, get voter approval for airports, tennis centers, and such, and provide jobs for connected people. Also loans from banks is easy.

Just how long would PTC put up with the airport expenses and the theater expenses and the salaries if it were a budget item now?

They are an insult to the voters (authorities are) since most of them wouldn't happen if the money came from a budget item instead of a special tax---just like SPLOSTS.
Conservatives even say the hotel tax is not a tax but a fee! People pay for that just as those visiting here pay it, we pay it when we visit somewhere else!

Many of us are not the dumbos we are taken for often.

Robert W. Morgan
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$92,000? Say it isn't so Scott

That's obscene! What kind of money did she and her board have at their disposal to spend on "tourism"? I guess it is all the hotel/motel tax. Scott, you are right. That needs to be fixed.

I had suggested giving the money to the development authority and I still think that is a good idea, but $92,000? My God! We could get 2 full-time professionals to help attract industry to Peachtree City. That's what we really need - not tourists.

How did this stupid thing get set up in the first place? Is this the result of Brown destroying the good old boy network? Leaving us with this?

I guess we are going to find out about how they spent their money and possibly get some clues as to why she suddenly quit. Probably too late to do anything except have an investigation.

inkslinger
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CHief Executive Officer Lauren Yawn

made $92,000. for WHAT???

Do the board members get paid salaries? How much are we talking here?

Bonkers
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Board Members get no paid salaries

But isn't that like being state road commissioner? Never knew one who didn't own property where the roads end up going. Even our governor owns some property which is scheduled to be bought up by the government!

Old Georgia sheriffs used to make tons of money from cash speeding tickets on the highway. Mike Wallace caught a few! Now we just make them rich over 40 years if they are slick enough talkers.
Reckon one would have a hard time with getting a bank loan?

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