Development board member is unhappy answering to the Chamber of Commerce
by Jon Gillooly
January 16, 2013 12:17 AM | 3224 views | 7 7 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A Development Authority of Cobb County board member criticized the relationship the Authority has with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

The Authority’s board, whose members are appointed by the Cobb Board of Commissioners, holds its meetings at the Chamber building and pays the Chamber to handle its paperwork.

By comparison, the Marietta Development Authority operates with support from city staff and city attorney Doug Haynie, conducting its meetings at City Hall.

DACC board member Thea Powell said she and the two other members of the DACC’s bylaws committee, Al Searcy and Donna Rowe, had been reviewing the Authority’s bylaws to get them up to date. In the course of their review, they examined the job description for the Authority’s executive director, Nelson Geter.

“I find it very interesting that the executive director of the Development Authority of Cobb County reports to the president and CEO and the vice president of economic development of the Chamber (David Connell and Brooks Mathis, respectively),” Powell said. “I guess if somebody could tell me what other board or organization has an executive director and that director doesn’t report to them then that would clarify why our executive director doesn’t report to us.”

DACC attorney George Dozier defended the relationship between the Chamber and Authority.

“I think it’s been very successful in that we have had the development department of the Chamber look after this Authority,” Dozier said. “It’s not done that way every place. And it obviously saves this Authority a great deal of money since we don’t have to pay insurance and things like that.”

Powell had a different view.

“I’m not sure I agree with your language of the Chamber taking care of the development Authority,” Powell said. “We are a legislative body, and we do not fall under the Chamber, and that’s where we have been placed.”

Continued Powell: I also believe that when Mr. Geter was hired, I don’t know if (Authority Chairman Don Wix) participated in that process, but essentially we all got an email that said, ‘this is your new executive director.’ To me, that’s not good business practice.”

Wix suggested the matter be taken up at a future date, rebuking Powell.

“Just because the paper is here is not the time to discuss it, Thea,” Wix said.

Rowe suggested reviewing the executive director’s position at a future bylaws committee.

Rowe said the problem with the bylaws is they haven’t been looked at to the best of her knowledge in 40 years.

“They’re antiquated,” Rowe said. “They’re not applicable to a true organization function. They do adhere to the law, but they do not tell us what to do under certain circumstances.”

Rowe estimated her bylaws committee would have a revised document to present to the board in May.

In other business, Wix, who said he was first appointed to the Authority by former commissioner Woody Thompson in 1997, announced his resignation.

“As of close of business today I will resign from the Authority, let somebody else step in and move forward,” Wix said.

The Authority also elected a slate of new officers for the year. Clark Hungerford was voted chairman, Bob Morgan vice chairman, Powell secretary and Rowe assistant secretary.

Tuesday’s meeting was also the last one for Dozier, who after serving as the Authority’s counsel since 1997, is retiring as well.

In his place, the board hired Dan McRae, a partner in the Atlanta office of Seyfarth Shaw.

McRae has acted as the Authority’s bond counsel on bond transactions in the past.

“Going forward we won’t be bond counsel on Development Authority of Cobb County transactions,” McRae said. “We’ll be Authority counsel only.”

McRae said his role as Authority counsel was an annual appointment, and that he would be paid on the same fee schedule that Dozier was.

Dozier said he was typically paid in the “high twenties” per deal by the borrower, estimating he did about three to four deals per year for the Authority, sometimes more and sometimes less.

“He agreed to do it on the same deal that I did,” Dozier said of McRae.

During his executive director’s report, Geter said the Cobb Chamber wanted the Authority to purchase a $1,500 table at the Chamber’s 71st annual dinner celebration at the Cobb Galleria Centre on Jan. 26, an expense the board agreed to make.

The Authority also agreed to give $75,000 to a company that plans that bring 150 new jobs to the Kennesaw area to help with relocation expenses. Geter said the name of the company would be forthcoming soon.
Comments
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TIC
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January 17, 2013
Ms. Powell is right.

The Development Authority should be an entity that is managed by the Aithority Board, not by the Chamber.

The Executive Director should report to the Authority Board not the Chamber.

The Authority offices should be housed at the County not at the Chamber.

The Authority meetings should be held at the County not at the Chamber.

The County should handle the personnel costs associated with the Authority staff not the Chamber.
I Hate to Say It....
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January 16, 2013
Thea is right. Plain and simple. No government funded agency should be reporting to a private organization. End of story. In addition, the Chamber should not be soliciting a table donation for their gala from the taxpayers right now.
anonymous
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January 17, 2013
Calm down, people. It was stated that maybe the bylaws haven't been looked at in more than 40 years. That does not implicate anyone of being corrupt. Accusations of corruptness fly out here at an alarming rate. I am sure they will be looked at and maybe should have been looked at before, but what makes me laugh is all these people commenting that if you put them up in the shoes they criticize, they would be absolutely speechless at their lack of knowledge of what they are commenting about.
anonymous
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January 16, 2013
Go get them, Thea! If the DACC is taxpayer funded -- which it sounds like it is -- then it should NOT be reporting to a non-government-related and private entity like the Cobb Chamber of Commerce!!!

This is yet another example of Tim Lee's and Sam Olens' attempt to take taxpayer-funded government and hand it over to arbitrary private entities!!! This does NOT sound government at work for the taxpayers!!!!

Likewise, for this reason, I'm skeptical about the EDGE being of any value to Cobb residents and taxpayers!!!! The time to set up a high-tech, research-based or employer-based area of Cobb is long past!!!! There is very little land left for meaningful development sites for employers who would hire lots of Cobb residents!!!! Sam Olens should have had this impetus during his tenure, but instead focused on cutting costs alone!!! Thanks Sam ... and thanks Tim, for making Cobb just a bedroom community!!!!
anonymous
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January 17, 2013
What point does !!! !!!! !!!!! !!!!!! make? That you are stupid?????
Pat H
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January 16, 2013
Thanks to Ms. Powell and Ms. Rowe for their work in ridding the corruption in the relationship of the Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce. Sounds like the sudden resignations of Mr. Wix and Mr. Dozier are prompted by the spotlight on this quasi legal relationship.

Hopefully, the FBI will also look into this matter during their investigation of Cobb County.

Mr. Geter, no tax money should be purchasing seats at the Chamber's dinner. If anyone from Cobb wants to attend this social dinner, then purchase the tickets from their own funds.
anonymous
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January 17, 2013
While I respect your opinion, please be very careful with the use of the word "corruption." If the FBI needs to look into any county relationship, I am sure it will, but to label "corruption" is borderline slander and makes your post dubious at best.
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