Southeast Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, who cast the lone "no" vote in the 4-1 2011 decision on the current budget, has expressed his displeasure with Chairman Tim Lee’s proposed 2013 budget. Ott isn’t thrilled with Lee’s call to add a net of 44 new jobs to the county payrolls since last year, or the practice of taking 10 percent of water system revenue and placing it in the general fund. That will add up to more than $21 million. Lee points out that his Republican Primary rival, Bill Byrne, actually implemented that practice when he was chairman in 1998.
While northeast Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell voted with Ott in opposing the millage rate in July, she did the same thing in 2011, only to vote with the majority on the budget. Lame-duck southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson may be the wild card, since he no longer has to worry about what the voters will think. Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, who spoke about how “courageous” the chairman has been during Tuesday’s meeting, now is considered a reliable Lee vote after frequently feuding with him backstage in earlier years.
A public hearing on the new budget is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Ott, meanwhile, has a town hall meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Smyrna Community Center.
SO WHAT’S NEXT FOR BILL BYRNE? Former Gov. Roy Barnes likes to say that “the only cure for political fever is embalming fluid,” and that seems to be the case for the former Cobb Commission chairman as well. After quitting the chairmanship to run unsuccessfully for governor in 2002 he mounted an abortive campaign for chairman in 2006 against incumbent Sam Olens but gave up for lack of funding. He then tried to run for the Polk County Commission where he owns a horse farm, but failed to meet the residency requirement.
Byrne seemed to be picking up steam in the runoff of this summer’s GOP primary campaign against incumbent Tim Lee, but badly hurt himself with his final-week suggestion that a new city be created in what’s now unincorporated east Cobb. Critics were quick to point out that his proposal probably would mean new taxes and additional bureaucracy. And it probably won him no friends in the rest of the county.
Now, after having come so close to winning election to his old job and failed, his political ambitions aren’t likely to have been dampened. But there would seem to be little on the horizon for him in the way of possibilities. A run against popular Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin next fall would seem an uphill battle, especially considering Byrne’s clashes with Marietta while chairman. He could run for the District 1 seat (northwest Cobb) now held by Helen Goreham two years from now, but would face a tough fight if she was on the ballot as well. Or he could try for a seat in the Legislature.
But Byrne seems temperamentally unsuited to fill a subordinate role as a back-bench legislator or as a district commissioner. He’s more of a “top dog or nothing” type. And with the runoff’s near-miss in mind, few could blame him for continuing to picture himself as “chairman material.”
WITH THE GOP CONVENTION in the history books, it’s the Democrats’ turn this week in Charlotte. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and former Gov. Roy Barnes of Marietta will host a high-profile brunch tribute to civil rights leaders U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Dr. Joseph Lowery and Evelyn Gibson Lowery of Atlanta and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.
The “Celebrating Voting Rights — The Struggle Continues” brunch is sponsored by the Democratic Party of Georgia and will take place Thursday morning. Also on the host committee are former Ambassador Andrew Young, state Rep. Calvin Smyre and former SCLC president Martin Luther King III.
THE CONSTITUTION DAY FESTIVAL is slated for 12:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 16) in Glover Park in Marietta Square to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. There’ll be live music, a “Walk Thru the Constitution Challenge,” food and more. For more, contact Virginia Galloway at (770) 315-4304.
THE MARIETTA HIGH Class of ’57 will holds its 55th reunion Friday at the Marietta History Museum. They’ll tour the Strand and ride the Marietta Trolley the next morning and cap the weekend with a dinner dance at the Double Tree Hotel in Smyrna, reports former Marietta Mayor Bill Dunaway.
DON’T FORGET “Salute to America,” the patriotic-themed show that opens at The Earl Smith-Strand Theatre Friday on Marietta Square. It packs 30 songs into 90 minutes — everything from traditional numbers like “America the Beautiful” and “Battle-Hymn of the Republic” to more contemporary songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Show times are Friday at Saturday at 8 p.m. with a 3 p.m. show on Sunday. Closing night is Tuesday, Sept. 11. Tickets are $20 or $15 with military ID. For more, visit www.earlsmithstrand.org or call (770) 293-0080.
LAST WEEK’S HIRING of Joseph Sharp as assistant principal of Sprayberry High raised more than a few eyebrows among Cobb School District types.
Why? Sharp’s education certificate was suspended over the summer for 20 days by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission after he reportedly created a class for high school seniors that had no academic requirement, submitted that class to the state for funding purposes, changed a grade for his former south Georgia superintendent’s daughter and did not post grades for a few students dually enrolled.
On the other hand, according to several sources, Sharp is buddy-buddy with former Pope High principal and newly appointed Area 6 Assistant Superintendent Rick Beaulieu. It pays to know people, they suggest. ...
Meanwhile, despite what traditional calendar advocates argue, there is no correlation between school utility costs and having to open schools on hot summer days. Utility costs are determined by the climate and rates, not by what days students are in seats. That expense has pretty much stayed stable over the last three years, Darryl York, the district’s director of policy, reported during the group’s Aug. 22 calendar committee meeting.
York also said that test scores, specifically End-of-Course, Advanced Placement and Criterion-Reference Competency tests, have continued to go up year after year, regardless of the calendar type.
Additionally, Cobb Schools spent roughly $3.97 million, or $70,000 more, last school year on substitute teachers than in 2010-11 and around 88,700 absences were reported, about 8,000 more than in 2010-2011. The “balanced calendar year” was also when attendance was part of the teacher evaluations.