Kennesaw sees infighting over KDA appointment
by Rachel Gray
January 17, 2014 11:42 PM | 3806 views | 20 20 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW — A third round of infighting between a newly elected councilwoman and Mayor Mark Mathews ended Wednesday night with the mayor’s veto standing and a resident reappointed to the Kennesaw Development Authority.

When the new council met for the first time Jan. 6, members opposed the reappointment of Richard Blevins to the KDA board in a 3-2 vote, with council-members Debra Williams, Jim Sebastian and Cris Welsh against.

The KDA is a seven-member board, on which Debra Williams’ husband, Ken Williams, is serving as chair.

Debra Williams said Blevins approa-ched fellow board member Steve Creason about taking her husband out of the lead position.

The day after the vote against Blevins, Mathews sent an email with a full-page letter to the city clerk. It stated he would be vetoing the action and upholding Blevins’ appoint-ment.

The mayor of Kennesaw is given five business days after a council meeting to file a dissent with the clerk in writing.

A week after receiving the letter, Welsh said the mayor’s veto of a split vote by the City Council sets a bad tone of not finding a middle ground as the council starts out on a new year.

The KDA position

Councilman Tim Killingsworth, who nominated Blevins for the reappointment, said he appreciated the veto by Mathews to keep the volunteer board operating.

Welsh, who was chairwoman of the KDA in 2008 and 2009, said a person should not be on a community board if they are going to cause dissention, beyond expressing a differing opinion.

Blevins, who has practiced law in Marietta for 13 years, said he did approach Creason. Blevins asked if Creason would nominate him for the chairman’s position at the KDA’s meeting in December.

Debra Williams’ response was one of a protective wife, Blevins said.

Although Debra Williams has never met Blevins, the “takeover” attempt “tells me the kind of person he is,” she said.

The KDA also met Wednesday night, and Blevins said he withdrew his name from consideration for the 2014 chairman’s position.

“I’ll just try to take the high road,” Blevins said.

Debra Williams said she has no intention of taking the discussion about Blevins’ appointment any further, so the issue will not be on the council’s agenda at the next meeting Tuesday night.

“We will just let the chips fall where they may,” Williams said.

Ken Williams will remain chairman of the KDA.

A personal conflict?

Debra Williams said she voted against Blevins’ appointment based on her personal convictions about his character. She said it was “unbecoming of a leader” like Mathews to present her stance any other way.

Mathews said Debra Williams’ position on the council and Ken Williams’ position on the KDA represents a personal conflict.

Ken Williams is a civil engineer for Dobbins Air Reserve Base. Because he works for the federal government, Debra Williams said, “There are a lot of things we can’t talk about, ever,” even after being married for 32 years.

On Wednesday night, Debra Williams said she could abstain from votes by the council about KDA matters, such as contract approvals or financial deals.

Mathews said this would mean Debra Williams would lose her effectiveness on the council.

“I think it puts you in an awkward position and it puts the city in an awkward position,” Mathews said.

A new alliance on the council?

The Kennesaw City Council can override a veto with support by four out of the five councilmembers. But, with Mathews already vetoing a council vote, Debra Williams said the mayor might reverse any decision that does not have the backing of a “super majority” of four votes.

Some residents have accused two new members of the council, Williams and Sebastian, of teaming with Welsh to form a “voting bloc.”

Welsh, who has heard the moniker used before, said she only met Sebastian when he decided to run for election, although she has known Williams for “a long time.”

Williams said there is no alliance, and all of her own decisions will be based on research. Williams said she did not try to influence or solicit any votes by Welsh or Sebastian against Blevins’ appointment.

Sebastian, who has worked in the insurance field for years, said he is new to politics after working in corporate America. He said there is no “voting bloc,” just a commonality with a couple members who also want to do what is best for the city, and not fulfill personal wishes.

With the many changes in the Kennesaw government, Sebastian said it is time to give different people a chance to contribute. He said more residents are asking to be placed on community boards and committees than in the past. As chairman of the Citizen Advisory Committee for three years, Sebastian said, “There is a chance to get some new blood involved,” and the more “prestigious committees” are competitive.

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Target Sucks
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January 22, 2014
Annexation and Development - Questions raised

The article, which is quoted in part below, appeared in the MDJ last week, it was very interesting and came as a surprise to almost everyone in Kennesaw. The 'estimated completion' is set for the Spring of 2015.

Details including maps are at: http://www.fuquadevelopment.com/files/atlanta/barrettparkway.pdf

Hopefully there will be further inquiry as to why this is so far advanced and remains unknown to most of us.

I note that Fuqua Development already has the property 'under contract' with their understanding that those 53 acres will be taken into Kennesaw. Some 'google' research shows that Jeff Fuqua, the founder of this firm is referred to in articles as "Atlantas Most Controversial Developer". That alone should make you wonder what is going on. I am reminded of the old adage my grandmother used now and then: "if you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas".

I would like to know what assurances, incentives or guarantees were given to Fuqua Development by the City regarding this development.

Some also wonder if it might be better to let the development of this 400.000 sq ft retail center to be developed under the County as they have a much larger infrastructure to get such projects permitted and inspected than Kennesaw.

The parcel can always be taken into the City after the County has done the heavy lifting.

It seems that there is no interest in talking about the matter by the City and this makes you wonder just why it is such a big secret?

Here is the relevant quote:

"KENNESAW — Mayor Mark Mathews in his 2014 State of the City address told a crowd of more than 200 people Tuesday the city will emerge from the stifled economy by annexing 53 acres of county property at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway.



Mathews said the plan is to close the Castle Lake Mobile Home Park, which has tenants, and build a 400,000-square-foot retail space anchored by a natural grocer, regional sporting goods store, restaurants and specialty shops. The site is southeast of the city in unincorporated Cobb County.

The Atlanta-based Fuqua Development, which is under contract to purchase the land, is working with the property owners and going through the application process to annex the parcels into the Kennesaw city limits,

Mathews said the Kennesaw City Council will vote on the annexation in the first quarter of 2014 and the plan would have to be reviewed by the Atlanta Region Commission, an unelected intergovernmental agency."

FYI: As expected Fuqua has a nice web site at: http://fuquadevelopment.com/ but there may be some unhappy people around Metro Atlanta, see: Jeff Fuqua, Atlantas Most Controversial Developer at: http://clatl.com/atlanta/jeff-fuqua-atlantas-most-controversial-developer/Content?oid=9217716
anonymous
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January 22, 2014
Jan 22nd

A MDJ article let the cat out of the bag as to what the Mayor is up to in getting 53 acres of County land annexed to Kennesaw to benefit Jeff Fequa who is a major Atlanta area developer. The matter was kept so far under wraps that the new people on the Kennesaw Council had not heard of it until it appeared in the MDJ.

When something is done in secret I think it is going to have a bad smell to it and should be looked into.

The new Council people are now up on it and the Cobb County Comm is also up to date on this end run by the Mayor.

====================================

The City Clerk has now posted the minutes for 2 City Council meetings held on Jan. 6th 2014 they are now posted on the City site http://www.kennesaw-ga.gov/government/city-clerk.

The first meeting took place between 6:30 p.m. to 6:47 and the only signifigant business was to reject all bids for the Museum railroad education center. As all of the qualified bids received for construction of the Museum Railroad Education Center and Archives exceeded the City budget for the project.

2 Departing Council members made brief statements, the 3rd, Mr Duckett, a member for 4 years made a long statement.

The 2nd Council meeting for Monday, January 6, 2014 took place between 7:07 to 7:49 p.m.

The majority of this meeting was to appoint and reappoint the various members and Council Liaisons to various Departments and Boards.

The reappoint Richard Blevins to the KDA was contested at length, the Mayor wanting him appointed and Killingsworth and Church supporting this but Williams, Welsh, Sebastian opposed.

It seems that Church rather than throwing his support to the Williams, Welsh and Sebastian group has decided to join the Mayors faction (now Killingsworth and Church).

:
Lucy Lou
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January 20, 2014
Here's a thought...The term has just begun... Mrs. Williams has only been in office 14 days....FOURTEEN days...the citizens of Kennesaw are in for a LONG 4 years....
Good 4 Years
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January 21, 2014
Lucy Lou, I guess you wanted to keep the overspending, back-room deals. A person with an actual conscious portrayed as a trouble maker, or weak should be a badge of honor for Mrs. Williams because it means she's standing against the good ole' boy politics of Kennesaw. Get to know her and you'll find out that you might actually enjoy the next four years. I intentionally voted for someone who is willing to stand up for themselves and I don't believe she was trying to keep her husband in that position. You should be careful in believing everything you read as I know this article was written incorrectly and the Mayor is still up to his games of spending his time attacking others rather than what's good for our city. It is going to be a long two years until we can vote him out.
Ron Burgundy
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January 20, 2014
"Stay classy Kennesaw"
H Cavanaugh
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January 18, 2014
I am saddened and shocked to read this story. Anyone who knows Richard Blevins should be appalled.
Isn't it obvious?
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January 18, 2014
Here are a few thoughts on this:

- What were the character flaws? Oh, sorry, Mrs. Williams hasn't met Mr. Blevins.

- Having someone removed from the Authority so that Mrs. Williams husband won't have opposition reminds me of the mafia, no?

- Mr. Sebastian wants to have new people serve on the boards and committees yet he REAPPOINTED his own appointment. That doesn't make sense, does it?

- Mrs. Williams says that she will make all of her decisions based on research. Just not this time, I guess.

- Mrs. Welsh states that she wouldn't support reappointment of a person (Mr. Blevins) that causes friction on a committee. Isn't Mr. & Mrs. Williams' conflict of interest friction enough?

Isn't it obvious?
Wrong Person?
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January 20, 2014
I am thinking now that I voted for the wrong person. I voted for Mrs. Williams, but I am having second thoughts.
Not Obvious
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January 21, 2014
Had you been at the Council meeting you would have heard her reasons and they had nothing to do with 'personal' as Mr. Belvins and Mayor says. Mr. Blevins hasn't met Mrs. Williams from what I understand either. Also, based on the autonomy of this Board there is no conflict of interest. What the public is being made to believe about her vote is the vengefulness of the Mayor and his continued game playing in politics. Don't be so naive people. And if you regret voting for her, it says more about you than it does about her. She stood up to the politics just like everyone had asked her to do with her vote and now that she is you want to turn on her. So much for actually knowing what you really want.
This sounds Familiar
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January 21, 2014
For someone with such insight on what went down, it would mean they had more information than what the public was given. My guess, is this is someone on the Council who is wanting to keep the stuff going, and the whole 'mafia' thing - sounds like someone is trying to put ideas into the naive peoples heads just turn the focus off themselves and their underhanded actions. Is it possible for the Mayor to get along with anyone that isn't his hand-picked group?
Just Wait
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January 18, 2014
I'm curious. Is this a city council or a pre school class?
Good Day For Kenn
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January 18, 2014
The problem is NOT Debra Williams.

The problem is Mark Mathews is "sour grapes" because his 2 buddies got ousted in the last election.

The people of Kennesaw are sick and tired of the crooked politics, led by Mr. Mathews. I guess he didn't notice that every incumbant got voted out of office. The people have spoken. Mark is to stupid to see the writing on the wall, he's still fighting like his opinion means anything.

Next election, he and Timmy will be gone as well.

These elections were the best thing to happen to Kennesaw in a LONG time.
Debra Williams
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January 18, 2014
Mr. Blevins: You have proved my point regarding your character by attempting to portray me as an emotionally unstable female incapable of performing my duties as a Councilmember. You also have attempted to portray me as one who does favors for others. I take exception to that. My issue has never been anyone's right or opportunity to lead the KDA. It was your tactic used. When someone has to solicit in the manner you chose to be nominated, that speaks clearly of the confidence from fellow members in that person's ability to hold the Chairman's position.(Would love for the MDJ to print the entire conversation for clarity). The article didn't state the verbiage you actually used, it didn't show the vindictiveness behind your actions, which is where my concern was and continues to be. Had anyone else acted in such a manner toward whomever held a chair position on any other committee, board, or commission, and I became aware of it - I would have voted the same way - not to re-appoint. It's the character I take issue with. I gave the example at the Work Session of attending the KDA meeting and voicing my concerns over the 'behind the door agreement between Mr. Reidemann and Mr. Creason deciding between themselves to swap Chair and Vice Chair positions without the knowledge of the committee who elected them. My husband didn't hold an office then and I spoke out without hesitation, and this was no different. I had no problem letting them know I didn't approve of their 'favored' actions and how it negated Robert's Rules of Order, which is the governing book for all committees, boards, commissions, organizations, etc. Now, the Mayor's veto letter also included a paragraph attempting to present this as a personal problem between you, myself, and my husband. It was a poor attempt to humiliate me into place, which he has been trying to do since before our swearing-in. There were five different occasions where I clearly stated my reasons for my vote - our Mayor just can't understand why I have an issue with questionable character, and therefore tries to turn it into something it absolutely isn't. Had there been another nomination of another member at that meeting I would have had no problem with it - it would have been acted on above board. I am asking you, on the Oath you took as an Attorney to protect the Constitution and the people of United States, and of this State - that you remember the Bible you laid your hand on and all that it entails between those covers and act accordingly to how we are instructed to conduct ourselves. Biblical Golden Rule, just in case it slipped your mind, "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the Law and the prophets." I have full expectations the Mayor will continue to use behind the scenes methods to force Ken to resign from the KDA, although it is an autonomous Board (self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only. Not subject to control from outside. You are Vice-Chair, even though you voluntarily pulled your name at the voting meeting that night, leaving only one name for the position. However, the gentleman who was nominated for Vice-Chair gave it up and offered it to you, because it seemed so important to you. That, Mr. Blevins, is the 'high-road' not the attempt to disqualify a female with a sexist remark.
K-town Krazy Train
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January 20, 2014
Dear Debbie,

You have done a great job in portraying yourself as "... an emotionally unstable female incapable of performing [your] duties as a Councilmember."

Kennesaw Circus
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January 20, 2014
Wow...
Forget Them
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January 21, 2014
Mrs. Williams. There is no need in explaining your vote - these people don't get it anyway. You can never make someone believe anything other than what they are told by those who have personal agendas. Let the boys play their games and you continue to help the city. Let them focus on targeting others for being strong enough to stand on their own because that shows they are not focused on the city or the best for the people. We're not fooled by their games and aren't suprised that those who believe them are fooled.
Disappointed.
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January 21, 2014
Ms. Williams- I'm afraid to say - but I actually voted for you. You have succeeded in convincing half of kennesaw that you are INDEED an "an emotionally unstable female incapable of performing my duties as a Councilmember".

Furthermore, making an assertion that one is protecting one's spouse would be "nepotism", not "sexism".

So - you are guilty of nepotism - it clearly is conflict of interest.

Finally - throwing out the "he's picking of my because I'm a girl and he's sexist" card IN YOUR FIRST COUNCIL MEETING - just PATHETIC...

Deep breath - 4 more years...

Get Educated
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January 21, 2014
Disappointed: Based on your comment of the "sexist card in the first council meeting" shows you were not even there and are part of the naive group who believe what pours out of the mouths of the Mayors puppets. Couple of things YOU should do. Learn nepotism. Go back and see how long Mr. Williams has been on the KDA. It was before she was on the Council. Ask what authority the Council has over the KDA - NONE! except making appointments. So you have spoken to at least 15,000 in Kennesaw since you say half the people believe she is incapable of doing her job, and they told you so - WOW, maybe you should run for office since you have that much support. You might have been taking too many deep breaths and have gotten your head clogged with muck to think things aren't getting better. I venture to say after reading all these comments that the Mayor has someone sitting in a room, or he is, and doing his best to keep this argument going to increase the divide with the city residents and they are falling for it.
TJZ
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January 18, 2014
Past time for a new Kennesaw mayor. The last election seems not to have sunk in with Mr. Mathews yet - his flunkies got booted off the Council and soon he can join them and collect his pension.
Really TJZ
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January 20, 2014
Apparently you are not that well versed in Kennesaw politics if you are saying that all three councilmembers were "Mathews" people. You should perhaps check your facts.
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