Cobb Commissioner hires former commissioner as assistant
by Jon Gillooly
April 02, 2013 01:18 AM | 5424 views | 9 9 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott goes over work plans Monday with his new assistant, former commissioner Thea Powell, who served on the board from 1987 to 1991 and as an interim commissioner in 2010. Powell’s commissioner’s photo, right, hangs on the third-floor commissioners’ work room gallery.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott goes over work plans Monday with his new assistant, former commissioner Thea Powell, who served on the board from 1987 to 1991 and as an interim commissioner in 2010. Powell’s commissioner’s photo, right, hangs on the third-floor commissioners’ work room gallery.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Commissioner Bob Ott has hired as his new assistant Thea Powell, a sharp critic of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce leadership and Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee.

Ott said he asked Powell, a former commissioner and an east Cobb resident, to accept the role after his former assistant, Renee Nichols, decided to retire.

“The fact of the matter is Renee did a tremendous job over the 20-plus years and left some pretty big shoes to fill, so I needed someone that could come in and kind of hit the ground running and be able to fill in that experience level that Renee provided, and somebody that has a knowledge of what the job entails, and Thea seemed like a natural fit for that,” Ott said.

Powell served as a commissioner from 1987 to 1991 and as an interim commissioner in 2010.

Two years ago Ott appointed her to the board of directors of the Cobb Development Authority, which is staffed by the Chamber of Commerce. She has criticized the Chamber’s management of the Development Authority’s dollars ever since.

County employees cannot simultaneously serve on the Development Authority board, so Powell resigned her unpaid post on that board to serve as Ott’s assistant.

Speaking of the Development Authority, Powell said, “Until the membership changes where there isn’t a strong affiliation with the Chamber, nothing is going to really move forward.”

Powell explained why she accepted the position as Ott’s assistant.

“When I’m here working with Commissioner Ott, I know that I can help the citizens and I can make a difference and that certainly wasn’t the case on the Development Authority. I like to be proactive, I like to make positive changes, and this is the opportunity that affords me to do that,” she said.

Powell and her husband, George Powell, have a daughter who lives in Atlanta who is expecting to give birth to their first grandchild in June.

Some assistants make $60K

Lee said the salaries for commissioner assistants are set by each commissioner based on a classification chart provided by the county’s human resources department.

Ott has not yet settled on Powell’s salary. Her predecessor, Nichols, received $60,278. Commissioner Helen Goreham’s assistant, Annette Friant, is also paid $60,278. Commissioner Lisa Cupid’s assistant, Saleemah Johnson, receives $50,413, Commissioner JoAnn Birrell’s assistant, Inger Eberhart, earns $46,350, and Lee’s assistant, Millie Rogers, who is part time, is paid $24.29 an hour.

With Powell resigning from the Development Authority, that board now has two empty seats.

Lee had planned on asking the Board of Commissioners to appoint former Chamber of Commerce Chairman and Bank of North Georgia President Rob Garcia to the Development Authority in January, but he tabled that vote after Cupid objected.

“I’m evaluating my options even as we speak and will bring forth a recommendation in the next couple of days,” Lee said of the empty seats on the authority’s board.

Lee said Ott has the right to name whomever he wants as his assistant.

“One of the perks of being a district commissioner is that you get to select your own assistant, and they serve at the will of that specific commissioner, so pending a successful background check and application process, I welcome her aboard,” Lee said.

And what does Lee think about Powell stepping off the Development Authority board?

“No comment,” Lee said.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Question Is
April 03, 2013
Can she move from elected official she once was to keeping her position as an assistant? Some people have a very hard time adjusting to such a move. It will not be her place to make public comments, which it appears she enjoys. I suspect private citizens can more freely offer t comments to the press than do those hired as assistants to elected commissioners. Will be interesting to watch, that's for sure.
Pat H
April 02, 2013
Congratulations to Commissioner Ott for hiring someone who was, is and will be responsive to the taxpayers whom he represents. Inger Eberhart is also responsive to Ms. Birrell's constituents with finesse.

Ms. Friant, however, should have been fired over her attempt to remove the fruit and vegetable stand and most certainly over comments made to the family who lost their only child to an illegal alien driving recklessly without a license and has escaped detention. She represents Helen Goreham flawlessly, kind to developers and contractors who hire illegal aliens and hostile to taxpayers.
Just Wait
April 02, 2013
The good news for Ott is that he won't be bothered by constituents any longer. Thea will handle everything herself.
April 02, 2013
Congratulations to Ms. Powell.

Very wise choice by Bob Ott.
From Kennesaw
April 02, 2013
Brilliant decision Commissioner Ott!

Thea Powell will be of great help. She has the experience and knows who and what. Looking forward to the rest of the year.
Here we have...
April 02, 2013
Here we have Commissioner Ott congratulating himself on his own decision.

This pair will be like Rasputin and the Romanovs. Everyone knows Ott is still bitter he couldn't get her approved for the Planning Commission. Rest assured Cobb County, you now have SIX Commissioners.

bock bock
April 02, 2013
Why did they have to give her a job?

Why didn't they just offer her the chance to pay $1000 each time she wanted to say something? That worked like a charm to shut the chicken people up.

Hey, maybe Cobb could offer $1000 marriage licenses to gays!
April 02, 2013
This is just more of the same old divisive tactics Ott is known for. instead of using his position to accomplish something, he chooses to employ a very controversial and divisive personality to the position. In the time Ott has been commissioner he hasn't accomplished anything of merit. He just spouts of rhetoric he knows tea party members will enjoy, but privately he supports policies they are opposed to.
Wacko Bird
April 02, 2013
Very persuasive examples of Bob Otts missteps, anonymous.

I like the technique of leaving them (examples) out completely to help people understand you are more than just a babbling oaf at a keyboard.

Go job Bob Ott! Yea, Thea! Keep slapping the crude out of the local rino crony capitalist contingent.
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