Invite goes out only to Lee for Chamber event
by Jon Gillooly
August 16, 2012 12:55 AM | 2756 views | 15 15 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CUMBERLAND — A week before an election that will determine if he continues as county chairman, Tim Lee gave an upbeat speech at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Cumberland Area Council meeting Wednesday that touched on job growth, transportation, taxes and government transparency.

In his talk before officials such as Cumberland CID director Malaika Rivers and Jim Hudgins of ARCADIS at the Georgian Club, Lee said one of his commitments when he took office was to focus on jobs. So he met with Chamber personnel to discuss reorganizing the way the county was doing economic development.

“The first step is we’re going to have a single point of contact, and that’s going to be Brooks Mathis from the Chamber of Commerce,” Lee said. “He has been outstanding in helping us coordinate our efforts with the state, the cities, the small-business organizations, Georgia Power and everything else that’s available to us to make sure we grow. As a result of just that, we’ve been extraordinarily successful. Last year, Cobb County accounted for one-third of all the metropolitan Atlanta jobs created.”

Lee made no mention of the county’s own economic development director, Michael Hughes.

Lee said such job growth was achieved without the benefit of the economic development plan known as Competitive EDGE, which is set to go into effect in January.

“When implementing that plan with very clear, decisive results that are in our midst, we’ll be even more successful in 2012-13 as we move forward and take advantage of the economy,” he said.

Lee said EDGE would not be funded with county dollars, but rather “privately and with any grants that can be acquired.”

Regarding transportation, Lee said if re-elected, within the first six months of his new administration he would bring together members of the community, transportation experts, and state and federal officials to come up with a plan to alleviate traffic congestion.

He said he didn’t know what that plan may entail but that it could include calling for a county transportation SPLOST.

After the proposed $8.5 billion regional transportation tax’s rejection, the community has to weigh in on any new plan, Lee said.

“What can’t be quantified is did the Transportation Investment Act go down because of mistrust in judgment, the project list, no clear oversight, the uncertainty as to how operating costs would be paid for in the long term?” Lee said. “There’s a lot of different reasons why someone might have voted against it, and the last one being they just didn’t want another tax. We’re going to go out and talk to the community, have open discussions with everybody, try to get as many conversations as we can with the business community and with the residents of Cobb County as to what’s important for them to address in the next five to 10 years.”

That could mean partnering with Cherokee County to address the Interstate 75-575 traffic problem or partnering with Paulding County for other reasons, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion about economic development and transportation as if they’re two different things,” Lee said. “I’d like for someone to find for me where we put a new intersection on any highway where economic development didn’t occur. It’s a natural, natural association that as you make infrastructure improvements, economic development will occur. You can’t separate them. If you have an economic development opportunity in a business park and you don’t have the correct transportation to get to it, it will fail.”

As for taxes, Lee said the county has the lowest property tax rate in metro area.

Moreover, “My government that I manage has the fewest number of employees and the smallest operating budget of any other metropolitan area delivering what I believe are the best services most extensively that you can find anywhere,” he said.

Touching on government transparency, Lee said Cobb has received the “Sunny Award” for the third year.

“And that’s not because we’re cheery,” Lee said. “We’re open, we’re transparent, we try our best to provide as much information as we can to the public so that they can watch everything we do … You can be assured that what went on in Gwinnett County in the last two years will not happen in Cobb County.”

While Lee was invited to speak to the group, his opponent in the Aug. 21 runoff, Bill Byrne, was not.

Chamber Chairman Tony Britton said the intention was not to slight Byrne.

“It was an invitation to Tim to come out and do an interim state of the county,” Britton said. “It wasn’t around the campaign. He didn’t discuss anything about the campaign or what he would be proposing to be doing going forward.”

Lee said he welcomed the opportunity to speak at the luncheon.

“Contrary to what some people might believe, I believe a strong relationship between government and the business community is what’s going to make or break the success of a community,” he told the audience.

Byrne told the Journal later in the day that if Lee was suggesting Byrne opposed a good relationship between government and business, Lee was mistaken. Byrne said while he is not a member of the Cobb Chamber, he is a member of the five of the 11 business associations in the county.

“Their viewpoints, their concerns are totally and completely different than the Chamber of Commerce, and they do not believe in the political positions that the Board of Directors and the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce has taken,” Byrne said.

Byrne pointed out the efforts the Chamber made to try to pass the TSPLOST.

Byrne said his economic development program is dramatically different than Lee’s.

“He is going to continue to invest into the Chamber to bring new businesses into Cobb County,” Byrne said. “My focus is to work to expand and improve and support the existing businesses we have in Cobb County, and you do that through these associations, not through the Chamber of Commerce. It’s going to be a huge difference in philosophy and policy beginning Aug. 22.”

Byrne said the difference between the Chamber and business associations is that the associations focus on their members.

“Their leadership is elected, and they work together as a community to outreach to each other, to support each other — you do business with me, I do business with you,” Byrne said. “At the Chamber of Commerce, there is always a continuous effort to secure new membership, but the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce is driven by the policies, philosophies and direction that their board of directors gives to their president — in this case, David Connell — and the membership be damned.

“That’s a huge difference in viewpoints, philosophy and policy, and I’m not going to have anything to do with that.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 17, 2012
At this point I guess the leaders at the Cobb Chamber figure they have nothing left to lose by putting all their eggs in one basket and providing an unchallenged forum to Tim Lee.

I suspect that if they had even suggested including Byrne, Timmy would have run away and hidden behind his wife's skirt.

If Bill Byrne wins the Chairmanship it will be interesting to see how the Cobb Chamber handles that situation.

For the intrinsic entertainment value of that potential situation alone, I am going to vote for Byrne.

Just Sayin'
August 17, 2012
To the thoughtless guys at the Chamber. You may have snubbed the next Chairman, in which case, you are not as bright as you make yourselves out to be. AND, Tim has probably hacked off even more undecided voters by hanging out at the chamber rather than the debate. Just wondering how you make decisions over there.
August 16, 2012

Once again Lee has abandoned Cobb County citizens in favor of the special interest groups that are seeking to control our community.

Why didn't he mention the locally headquartered electric suppliers like Cobb EMC and Marietta Power as economic development partners?

Could it be because the Chamber officials from the current CEO David Connell, to the Development Authority Executive Director Nelson Geter are both former employees of Georgia Power?

Well supposedly former employees. it looks like they are still continuing to work for GP.

It seems Lee doesn't even consider his own Economic Development Department at the County as a player in economic development.

Lee's transparent alright!!

He so transparent as a willing, obedient shill for the Cobb Chamber it is downright sickening.

August 16, 2012
I voted early today and cast my vote for Byrne and probably more importantly cast it AGAINST Lee and his tax and spend policies.

I hope others will do the same.

Lee's total lack of Cobb County focused leadership and his pandering to the Cobb Chamber, The Cumberland CID and worst of all, Kasim Reed at the City of Atlanta is unconscionable.

He is trying to put the economic future of Cobb County in the hands of unelected special interest groups who have agendas that are not necessarily aligned with the best interests of the county.

He has all but abandoned Cobb County.

Byrne abandoned Cobb
August 16, 2012
No, BYRNE ABANDONED COBB when he said “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.” Do not vote for a potential chairman who doesn't even like our county." That's what Byrne said. So sad.

On the other hand, Lee has done so much for our county and is the right leader.

August 16, 2012
I am sure I can't change your opinion about Bill Byrne so I won't even try.


If you think Tim Lee is an effective leader and has done good things for Cobb County your are delusional.

And don't you remember that Tim Lee called us spoiled brats and racists and insinuated that we were uniformed and ignorant for not voting for the TSPLOST?

How is that not any better or worse than what Byrne said?

Not only are you delusional you obviosly have a double standard.
Troll Police
August 16, 2012
TIC - having read your comments on the MDJ for quite some time now, I have no doubt you are a spoiled brat, uninformed, and ignorant.

As the saying goes - when the shoe fits...
August 17, 2012
@ Troll Police

First of all thanks for reading my comments.

I am simply using this forum to voice my humble opinions on various subjects I see in the MDJ.

Some are right, some are undoubtably wrong, but after all they are just my personal opinions.

However if you have been reading my posts as you claim, you know I am neither uninformed nor ignorant.

On the other hand the spoiled brat part is arguable.


I am not the one out there asking people to trust me and vote for me as an elected representative.

Tim Lee is, and he is not only a spoiled brat, uninformed and ignorant, he is a coward and has proven time and again he cannot be trusted.

And lastly

Keep reading my posts and you may actually learn something.

Lance Lamberton
August 16, 2012
Just when I think Lee cannot be any more profligate with our tax dollars, he manages, once again to out do himself, this time with a suggestion that we impose yet another SPLOST, this time for transportation. Did he not get the message Cobb voters sent him with their overwhelming vote against the T-SPLOST? This suggestion is being made in the wake of the 2011 County SPLOST which has millions allocated for transportation. I was also amused, and somewhat disgusted with the statement of Chamber Chairman Tony Britton that Lee's talk did not propose anything that Lee would do "going forward" if he got re-elected Chairman. Yet in the same article, Lee was reported as outlining what he would do if he got re-elected, which included his proposal for another SPLOST. Does the Chamber and its minions really think we are that stupid?
I Say
August 16, 2012
I, too, noticed the "double speak" about calling for another SPLOST. Lee's ad that came in the mail yesterday said he will cut our taxes. Also the part about him not talking about what he will do in the future. I had to read that part of the story twice just to make sure I read what I thought I read. I think this is called "talking out of both sides of one's mouth". These guys think we are all just plain stupid and don't notice/remember their lies.
Byrne is wrong
August 16, 2012
The Cobb Chamber and the 10 Cobb County business associations work together on many initiatives and events and all groups support each other. Bryne is wrong to put one against the other; all groups serve great purposes for our county. We need to work together in this county, not divide it with one organization against the other. Byrne will only divide us and is the wrong choice for this county. I agree with MDJ's public endorsement yesterday of Lee that Lee is the right candidtate to move us forward in a positive direction and bring us all together, not divide us. Also, there are 10 business associations, not 11. Byrne doesn't even know how many business associations there are.
August 16, 2012
Please people wake up!!! Tim Lee has just announced that he is all for another SPLOST for transportation. So on the books so far in the next 4 years is two tax hikes and we still do not have the budget analysis he will be working on next Wed. well if that is not perfectly timed.

He says that we are lowest in all the Regions so is this his rationale for raising our taxes over and over? I can only hope that all true Republicans come to their senses and vote him out.

Between Lee and Obama we will be working to pay for our government and what little we have left we will be encouraged to spend to support our government.

JR in Mableton
August 16, 2012
Should Bill Byrne sit next to Tim Lee at the next BOC meeting?? What a misleading headline!!! I have been is south Cobb for 20 years, and the BOC chairman has always been invited to speak at these events (Byrne, Olens, and Lee). STOP TRYING TO MANUFACTURE NEWS!!
August 16, 2012
Not during a neck-and-neck run off election you Tax Hike Tim lover.
August 16, 2012
Of course they bought and paid for Tim Lee they are the puppet masters of Cobb County, Lee is the county water boy for the chamber. Just look at a wasted $300,000.00 dollars and saying it’s on the 2011 SPLOST they move stuff around all the time. Why do you think the sidewalks never were put on Canton Road that’s Lee’s old area? One of his cronies needed money somewhere else and Canton Road got mugged.
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