Elsewhere you will find a letter written by the Powder Springs Attorney Richard Calhoun of Calhoun, Brock & Clay law firm.
They have been the City attorney for at least 12 years. As pointed out elsewhere our city has never formally sent out for a bid for services.
The tab for legal services each year can run into the $170,000 range plus any special work that needs to be done such as condemnation of land for property which came up quite a bit when the Lewis Road project was built. So any good law firm would like to have the City's business.
I thought my own personal relationship with the attorneys that they sent to our meetings was quite good. Many members during the past two years have been somewhat uneasy with the advice or non-advice that we were getting.
At one point we were considering another Law Firm but that fell through and no further efforts were made to at least review the services that were being offered by Brock-Clay-Calhoun. I should add that they also represent the Cobb School Board which is problems enough.
The CCSB has had problems with the open meetings law on several occasions. This has been widely reported in the MDJ newspaper.
My last column, critical of myself, the Mayor and council, is what prompted Calhoun to write the letter and no doubt the Mayor's insistence. From what I know the Council did not give their consent to this happening and of course was not asked.
She simply told the Interim city Manager to have Calhoun answer. In my column I question the Mayor and Council holding "Closed" meetings of which a part should have been open.
Please read the column and comments for more information.
In Richard's response he states that if a complaint had been filed the city or He would have received notice. Not so. The fines for our infractions would be, currently $100 for each session.
There is legislation, pushed by the Attorney General (AG) Sam Olens and the First Amendment Foundation, that raise that fine to $1,000. The AG has lots to deal with of a very serious nature.
I am not suggesting that our matter is piddly but does not rise to the occasion where he would drop everything and conduct an investigation of us. It will happen, just be patient.
Elsewhere he points out areas where matters can be discussed within the permitted area of personnel. I don't question these, of course if you are hiring a City Manager (which seems to happen often) you will discuss pay, duties and such.
But you simply must stay on topic, thats all I wrote about. And yes, some of us would object to these going way off course. It would have been nice if the City Attorney and the Mayor would have kept the meetings on target and to topic but they simply did not, period.
I could point out where it is highly questionable the we held a personnel closed session to begin with. That involved several meetings where we discussed contracting out the Sanitation business. This might be a gray area because 10 persons would have lost their job.
Still, I think that there is a wider issue here of the Publics Right-to-Know about a change or potential change of something very important to most of our citizens. We never went through with it because extra money was found so that contracting the service out would not be necessary. But then, I wrote about all of this in one of my previous columns.
I am told that some council members are unhappy that I write these columns. But then I also receive thanks from some Council members who, like me, think that it is simply about time.
An old saying goes that sunshine is the best disinfectant. That is the story behind the "Sunshine Law" aka Open Meetings, Open Records. I don't write these columns to make enemies of former friends.
If that's the way it turns out then so be it. But then I also value the rights of all citizens I represented for years.
Next time, the Fanning Report and Economic Development.