Lee blames Byrne for ’96 Olympics loss
by Jon Gillooly
August 15, 2012 01:08 AM | 5424 views | 33 33 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Incumbent Tim Lee, who is in a Tuesday runoff with Bill Byrne to keep his post as chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners, on Tuesday blamed his rival for the county losing a venue and a substantial financial impact in the 1996 Olympics.

“It was a family values resolution that he passed condemning the gay lifestyle,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Byrne, the county chairman at the time, claims the anti-gay resolution wasn’t his idea, but acknowledges he did vote for it. And he maintains that Cobb still prospered because hotels and restaurants in the county were filled for the duration of the ’96 Games.

Lee gives his recollection of how the resolution came to pass in 1993.

“It was basically in response to a play (“Lips Together, Teeth Apart”) that was on at (the now-shuttered) Theatre in the Square where there was an open display of a relationship between two gentlemen,” Lee said. “And they (the commissioners) were offended by it, so they passed a resolution condemning that lifestyle. Call it, if you would, ‘family values.’ The Olympics pulled volleyball out of Cobb County — and all that economic impact and all the positive things that could have been happening to tourism — pulled that out of Cobb and made Cobb the laughing stock of the world.”

Volleyball was scheduled to be held at the Cobb Galleria for the 1996 Olympics, but was subsequently moved out of the county after the resolution was approved, Lee said.

“They didn’t have to go and make a moral proclamation that they know better than anyone else,” Lee said. “The issue of sexuality is between a person and their maker. … It’s not the place of local government to regulate morality.”

Byrne pointed out that the resolution was brought forward not by him but by then-east Cobb commissioner Gordon Wysong.

“I fought him for six months to keep it off the agenda,” Byrne said.

Even so, once it was brought forward, Byrne said he voted for it.

“The concept of it was ‘do you support the traditional family values or do you support the gay rights agenda?’” Byrne said. “When given that as the question, then the answer to me is pretty clear. On that basis, I voted for the resolution.”

Organizers of the Olympics warned that they would move the volleyball venue unless the commission repealed the resolution, Byrne said.

So Byrne polled commissioners to see if he had the votes to repeal it.

“It was 3-2 (Byrne and Bill Cooper in favor of repeal) that it would die a death, so I never brought it forward,” Byrne said.

While the volleyball venue was indeed removed from the county, Cobb still received millions in revenues from visitors who stayed in hotel rooms, ate at local restaurants and visited White Water and Six Flags, he said.

“For two weeks, the enormous financial impact on Cobb County was huge,” Byrne said. “Losing volleyball didn’t hurt Cobb County a single bit. It was a political way out for the Olympics Committee to sidestep the criticism that they were getting from the gay community within the city of Atlanta.”

Byrne said the resolution flap cost him on a personal level.

“What compounded all of this, and this is public information as well, on a personal level I paid one hell of a price because I have a gay daughter, and she was brought into the arena by that community and played against me,” he said.

In hindsight, Byrne said he should never have allowed the resolution to be brought to the floor for a vote.

Were he given the chance to do it again, Byrne said, “I would have personally gotten my revolver and shot Gordon Wysong between the eyes.”

“That has absolutely nothing to do with governing a local jurisdiction,” he said. “It turned into a national issue. In the year 2000, the gay rights agenda was a major issue in the debate for president. We said that was going to happen, that these issues were just beginning, and they were. Today as we speak the issue of gays in the military with regard to President Obama is just an extension, and the concept of the gay community is ‘let’s take one battle at a time and win one at a time,’ and now it’s gay marriage.”

And where do Lee and Byrne stand on the issue of gay marriage?

“I’m not gay, so I don’t have to worry about that,” Lee said.

Byrne avoided answering the question as well.

“I’m not going to answer a question like that,” he said.
Comments
(33)
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Doug DeBolt
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August 18, 2012
Anonymous comments are gutless. I'm not a huge fan of Bill Byrne, but I'm less of a fan of Tim Lee. I'll say that and put my name to it. The people posting here with no name have no stones, and they're only throwing stones from behind a wall because they lack the courage to do so publicly. Tonight I got the call from a Tim Lee support group with the Byrne, "I don't want to live in Cobb County" quote. I want to thank that group for helping me finalize my decision to vote for Mr. Byrne. At least he has the guts to do his own dirty work.
tired of it
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August 16, 2012
Well, byrnes is the one person that actually cared about the county employee's when he was a commissioner. He stood up for what he believed in and as for the olympics Im glad they went else where. I for one am tired of bowing down to the gays, lesbians that believe we should agree with them or we are wrong, they need to read the bible and see for them selves "it is an abomination for men to lay with men", it is a choice despite what is told. it is like any other sin you CHOOSE to be that way so you claim you were born that way to make yourselves and everyone else feel better. Yes i had a gay family member who originally wasnt gay he just got hurt and yes i said HAD he died of AIDS and so did his partner. he was a family member and I loved him but did not love his SIN. AND WE WONDER WHY THIS WORLD IS THE WAY IT IS, GOD ONLY TOLERATES SO MUCH AND WILL TURN HIS BACK ON THIS COUNTRY AND LET US BE DESTROYED.
Just sayin'.......
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August 16, 2012
Let's just say the choices are amazingly bad. I really feel I should vote, but neither one is worthy of a vote at this point. Bill will obviously SAY anything and Tim will obviously DO anything to get elected.....both really bad choices.
Strong for Bill
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August 15, 2012
Tim Lee will never ever answer a question straight out, it's easier for him to get on the defensive
Tim Langley
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August 15, 2012
As I recall, Cobb County was well run back then. No tax increases. No fear mongering. No subverting the interest of Cobb Countians to the will of those regionalists who have always despised Cobb County for its independence.

Mr. Lee is a nice enough man. However, he obviously is not up to the task of leading our vibrant community. While Byrne may be rough around the edges, he never got us into the jam Mr. Lee has led us into.
I Say
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August 15, 2012
Tim Lee's latest campaing card arrived in the mail today. Quote: "As County Commission Charman, Tim Lee will cut our property taxes. He believes a lower tax burden makes Cobb County more affordable for families to own a home..." Flip Flop Lee making tax cut promises again so if he wins we can be guaranteed they will go up. As to Cobb not getting any 1996 Olympic venues people need to get over it. Actually it was pretty nice during the Olympics. Traffic was way down and easy to move around the city.
VicEld
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August 15, 2012
I found Bill Byrne to be morally reprehensible bending to the anti-gay agenda since he was someone who was very close to a gay voter and was so sad for his daughter.

But his strong fiscal managerment that was a boon to my county will make me take him over Lee in a heartbeat.
Just Wait
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August 15, 2012
Just in case you folks are confused, we are voting for a Commission Chairman, not President. It is ridiculous to even compare one with the other. That is only desperation speaking.
Confused folks
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August 15, 2012
Yes, Just Wait, I'm always surprised and how folks think national politics and local are even closely connected. National government makes laws and regulates. Local government provides services. I could care less what political party someone represents for county government. I do care to have someone who loves this county and is seeking to keep those services at a high level, while still having the taxes lower than any county around us. That is Mr. Lee, not that wild man that someone quoted as not wanting to live in Cobb, or who thinks it is his job to tell people how to live, or who threatens to shoot someone for disagreeing with him. I want someone who is positive speaking and acting, and that is NOT the angry Mr. Byrne.
FROM TEXAS
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August 16, 2012
602 million dollars for five miles of the Atlanta beltline parkway, that is right out of the MAVEN booklet fool that is Washington Pork Barrell in your back yard, how can you waste 602 million dollars on five miles. We are feed up with it this was Atlants version of contractor care not Obama care!!!!!!!!!!
COBB CSI
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August 15, 2012
I blame Timmy Lee for the biggest tax increase just last year, pass the SPLOST I won’t raise your taxes one week later a 16 percent property tax increase. I still go to Chick Fil-A and will won’t cave into wing-nuts normal people have rights also. Timmy needs to go get a hug from crazy Joe Biden or Baracky feel good Obama. He brings up stuff that doesn’t have anything to with his bad record and now we find out he wasting $3,000,000.00 dollars on thin air studies I’m sure its crony payback.
Mary Miller
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August 15, 2012
You mean Biden who just threatened we all will be going back to "Chains" I agree COBB CSI. Looking desperate and skeered here.

Only 3,000,000 dollars?..I am looking for the FIVE!

Byrnes - August 21, 2012!
Cobb Citizen
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August 15, 2012
I am glad some of you are standing up for the family values.

We all need to stand up for that. If the Bible sayes its wrong then it is wrong.

This gay and lisban acts are strickley against the Bible. We must live under the laws of God or this nation will surely fall.

Keep standing up for the Unity of a Man and Woman.

This will be a better country for doing that.

Who cares if we loose money because we stand up for the Right and uphold Gods laws.
Scared Silly
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August 15, 2012
Goodness! I am frightened of a chairman, or simply a neighbor, who would say " given the chance to do it again," Byrne said, “I would have personally gotten my revolver and shot Gordon Wysong between the eyes.”

Changed my vote to Lee right then and there!

TIC
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August 15, 2012
@ Scared Silly

Don't show your stupidity and take things so literally.

Byrne was simply letting his feelings be known in a very graphic way.

Big Deal!!

How many times have you said or heard someone else say: I could kill (insert name here) and actually meant they wanted to kill that person.
URKiddingright?
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August 15, 2012
Every time you turn around Tim Lee is taking a page out of Obama's dirty campaign tricks.

Like Obama, he can't stand on his failed record, so he resorts to bashing the other candidate.

All you have to do is look at Lee's recent history of his terrible stewardship of our tax dollars to come up with reason after reason to vote against him.

Isn't that the most relevant issue out there?

Compared to what Lee has done, a few volleyball games of questionable value, the Bedminster issue and refusing to get in bed with the crooks in Atlanta pale in comparison.

In one fell swoop Lee was prepared, even anxious, to hand over $859 MILLION dollars of Cobb County tax dollars to Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta to build a light rail line for MARTA that barely touched Cobb County!!

I am going to hold my nose and vote for Byrne and then hold him accountable.

We already know beyond a shodow of a doubt that Lee pays no attention to Cobb County citizens and their opinions.

Forgetting the other blatant slaps in the face that Lee has delivered and is still delivering to Cobb County citizens and taxpayers, that major $859 MILLION blunder is in and of itself reason to rid ourselves of this clown.
Mary Miller
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August 15, 2012
WOW!

I am voting Byrnes too! We can survive with millions wasting in this economy. FAMILIES are HURTING.
Sale Out
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August 15, 2012
It appears to me that Mr. Byrne didn't sell out in order to benefit from the Olympic boom. I am as big a fan of the Olympics as anyone, but selling out your moral high ground for economic development is not the sign of a true leader. Mr. Lee has shown that he is willing to sell out in order to promote economic development.
Debra Williams
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August 15, 2012
A Politician with experience and/or a good PR person, would have known how to answer such a question when asked Mr. Byrne. You can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. As a parent of a gay child, you of all people should have been prepared for the possibility of such a question since it's been a hot topic for some time now. Let me give all these local politicians a piece of advice, a Campaign Manager with no formal Public Relations education and training can sink you. There should never be a time that you open your mouth without consulting with your PR person. An attorney will tell you to state 'No Comment' well that's the first sign of guilt, hiding something, or just simply ignorance, in the public arena. You should always have your prepared statement ready because a question is never a surprise if you're well prepared by your PR person - that's their job. The fact that you wanted to pull the issue/vote back and then stated you would shoot the gentleman if you had to do it over is a 'screaming' sign of one who still isn't prepared to be a respected leader.
anonymous
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August 15, 2012
It's time for county government to break away from the non-elected crowd at the chamber of commerce. The insidious influence this group of businessmen has on political decisions has reached levels that are truly disgusting. When you put a weak leader such as Lee into a position like this, the normal balance goes off kilter. Put a strong leader like Byrne in, and maybe the chamber will back off and put its energies where they're supposed to be. As a taxpayer, I resent the chamber influence, and am wondering also if it's now extended itself to the local newspaper, which has thus far walked a fine line. Disturbing endoresemnt by the MDJ, and putting a rehash of the Olympic issue on page one today is another example of bias in this important race.

Which way do you want the county to go? Management by chamber cronyism, disregarding political philosophy as long as the biggwiggs are making money...or strong leadership putting the people's interests first on the agenda?
Kennesaw resident
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August 15, 2012


"Were he given the chance to do it again, Byrne said, “I would have personally gotten my revolver and shot Gordon Wysong between the eyes.”

That's the kind of Chairman we need to have in Cobb.
Rick Z
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August 15, 2012
I don't care so much about Byrne did to cost us a few Olympic volleyball games 16 years ago. But the comment -- granted, it's tongue in cheek -- that he'd have shot Gordon Wysong if he had the chance to do it over, I find that extremely disturbing.
hotinatlanta
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August 15, 2012
Why is Lee bringing up something from 1996. Who cares. It's the current day issues that should be discussed. Get over it!
Gringo Bandito
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August 15, 2012
Tim is bring up stuff from the early 1990's because he has no record to run on.
Joseph Pond
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August 15, 2012
Because history repeats itself- Because Bill Byrne says he has not changed a bit since then- he is soft selling this incident for this article- Look it up~ I remember hearing 'Cobb County- where hate is a family value' for years after that. Cobb County does not need that kind of international negative attention during a time while we are trying to move forward and attract more business. If Bill was so against it, he should have voted against it. The BOC did change it's policy after that fiasco, however, and now requires two commissioners to agree on any brought to the board for a vote.
leeobama
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August 15, 2012
Thanks Sam (anonymous)for the recap of what Byrne did and how you came to the rescue!!!! Really?

Let's talk about TimTax em to death Lee - His motto - I do not need to cut our budget because all I have to do is TAX them!

Oh and Lee hasn'nt put a blemish on Cobb County - TSPLOST and the supper duper bus line for millions of dollars? What a joke!
anonymous
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August 15, 2012
lets hear his take on the failed privatization of DOT. He bidded out contracts that ended up exceeding the previous budgets; sold off all their equipment. To this day DOT has a shortage of equipment that prevents them from doing their job. They have to borrow equipment.

Let's hear about the compost facility that cost taxpayers over 20 million dollars.

Let's hear about he thought he though the employees were getting some sort of back room deal for retirement, so he instituted the pension plan we are having to fix now.

Let's hear from local leaders that worked with Byrne and let them explain how he refused to work together and alienated Cobb from rest of Metro Atlanta. it took Olens 8 years to repairs those relationships Byrne ruined.He made sure the county sat down with city officials and hammered out an agreement to provide services for 10 years as opposed to renegotiating agreements every month or two

FYI- He publicly says he will privatize if he gets elected, but privately tells everyone he will privatize a few small operations to satisfy his election promise.

Bill Byrne- “The last thing I wanted to do is live in Cobb County, let alone serve in Cobb County. I want to make damn sure Cobb County doesn’t move to Polk County. I live in Polk, I love this county and want to make sure that we preserve and protect this quality of life, and make sure Cobb County doesn’t move here.”

Read more: “The last thing I wanted to do is live in Cobb County, let alone serve in Cobb County. I want to make damn sure Cobb County doesn’t move to Polk County. I live in Polk, I love this county and want to make sure that we preserve and protect this quality of life, and make sure Cobb County doesn’t move here.”

“The last thing I wanted to do is live in Cobb County, let alone serve in Cobb County. I want to make damn sure Cobb County doesn’t move to Polk County. I live in Polk, I love this county and want to make sure that we preserve and protect this quality of life, and make sure Cobb County doesn’t move here.”

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Candidates for Chairman go on the attack

Angry Cobb Voter
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August 15, 2012
I think Tim Lee wrote this post!
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