Chairman on anti-tax activist’s appointment: ‘Hold off’
by Jon Gillooly
June 12, 2013 01:00 AM | 2412 views | 16 16 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lisa Cupid
Lisa Cupid
slideshow
Commission Chairman Tim Lee (MDJ Staff/Emily Barnes)
Commission Chairman Tim Lee (MDJ Staff/Emily Barnes)
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County Chairman Tim Lee on Tuesday delayed anti-tax activist Lance Lamberton from being appointed to the county’s 15-member citizen group that provides oversight for special purpose local option sales tax funds.

First-year Commissioner Lisa Cupid planned to appoint Lamberton, president of the Cobb Taxpayers Association, to the county’s SPLOST watchdog committee, but during Tuesday’s meeting she announced that a member of the Board of Commissioners had approached her with concerns about Lamberton.

“I’m not going to reveal any names, but I heard from someone on the board who had some concerns, just one person who did,” Cupid said. “They saw the paper this morning, they came directly to me. It was minutes before this meeting. Just out of respect I want to give them the benefit of conversation before I make a motion.”

While she and the other commissioners don’t always vote the same, Cupid said she has a good working relationship with them, “and I’d like to preserve that, and if it means just holding this off for another meeting so we can have that conversation I’m going to give my peer that respect.”

Cupid said the vote on Lamberton will again come up at the June 25 meeting.

Lee admitted to the MDJ after the meeting that he was the one who asked Cupid to hold off on the Lamberton vote.

“My issue is this: when we make appointments to any board it’s always good to have someone who is a subject-matter expert if it’s required and to have someone who is perceived by the community to have an unbiased, very even keel, educated perspective on the whole issue, not one that is to the extreme on one side or the other,” Lee said.

Lee said his opposition to Lamberton serving on the SPLOST committee was the same reason he opposed immigration reformer D.A. King serving on the new committee recently formed to find best practices for ensuring the county doesn’t hire illegal immigrants.

“To put someone in there that might be biased one way or the other creates a distraction that takes the focus away from the true work, and we’ve had how many years of successful oversight representation and review by the citizen committees?” Lee said. “Have not found anything. I don’t believe it would be any different if (Lamberton) were on it. I just think the focus would go away from what their primary responsibilities are to what does Lance Lamberton think is occurring, and I just don’t think that’s the way to go.”

Lee said he intended to speak with Cupid about the appointment in private, but if she still wanted to appoint Lamberton, “Then it’s a district appointment, and she can bring him forward next week if that’s what she wants to do.”

Lamberton, who was not at the meeting, made the following comment when told of what Lee had said.

“Is the Chairman saying that if you are opposed to the SPLOST passage you are biased, but if you are in favor of it that makes you unbiased? That to me sounds irrational and unreasonable,” Lamberton said. “As far as being knowledgeable, I think I’m just about as knowledgeable as any lay person could possibly be. I mean, my organization and I have done thorough research on every single possible project that is on the SPLOST list, and the reason we came up with our opposition is because so many of the projects on the list we felt were more wants versus needs.”

This is not the first time Lee has moved to stop a watchdog resident from serving on a county committee. In 2011, Lee, along with commissioners Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell, voted down Commissioner Bob Ott’s appointment to the Citizens Oversight Committee, Thea Powell. Powell, herself a former commissioner, has a countywide reputation for asking tough questions and is a withering critic of one of Lee’s strongest allies, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

Then-Commissioner Woody Thompson, who held the seat prior to Cupid, referred to the vote against Powell as “purely political” at the time.

 

Comments
(16)
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James Bell
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June 16, 2013
Past oversight committees consisted of rubber stamps. All you have to do is read the minutes of past meetings to understand why a taxpayer's advocate is dangerous to appoint to an oversight committees. They might actually ask tough questions or even blow the whistle. That can not be tolerated by My. Lee.
Watcher...
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June 12, 2013
Chairman Lee should resign!
David Welden
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June 12, 2013
The SPLOST Oversight Committee is primarily an audit function. It does not decide how to spend money. It assures us that our taxes are spent appropriately, in accordance with the SPLOST Project List. It seems Lance Lamberton would be an excellent person to serve thereon.

Mr. Lamberton is a cost-conscious activist who believes governments should be operated under tight financial constraints. He sometimes annoys government officials with his probing and controversial positions in this regard. Although not perfect, he is competent and much more knowledgeable of tax-related matters than most citizens. This was visible during his campaigns to oppose the TSPLOST and the 2011 SPLOST.

Lance loves Cobb County and has only the best interests of our community at heart. I firmly believe he will be a strong and positive contributor to the SPLOST Oversight Committee and I hope Commissioner Cupid will follow her initial instincts and appoint him. The benefits will far outweigh the risks.

Jeff A. Taylor
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June 12, 2013
Mr. Lee is an autocrat. He does not like to be questioned and he certainly does not like "oversight" from anyone outside the tight circle of the status quo.

Mr. Lamberton is threatening precisely because there is nothing Lee can offer him -- aside from lower taxes -- in exchange for his support.

anonymous
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June 12, 2013
"OOH THAT SMELL THAT SMELL IS AROUND YOU"
Craig Kootsillas
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June 12, 2013
Thank you, Commissioner Cupid, for taking this bold step and enabling this dialog.

Just Wait
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June 12, 2013
Mr Lamberton makes an excellent point about biasness. Realistically, what's the point in having a board that rubber stamps everything brought before it? As long as he does not obstruct its operation, he should make an excellent addition.
Be Careful
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June 12, 2013
This is silly.

Every human being alive has opinions and feelings.

There is no such thing as someone who is totally unbiased on any subject.

This is a blatent attempt to prevent someone from serving on a board that doesn't feel the same way the Chairman feels.

What good is a committee if you stack if with "yes men" who won't challenge decisions and parctices. Boards NEED people of differing viewpoints so a healthy discussion takes place, nut just rubber stamping things.
rjsnh
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June 12, 2013
The Chairman is wrong. When I first read about Ms. Cupid's decision I was impressed that she would reach out to be inclusive of even those who opposed SPLOST. It is clear that Mr. Lamberton is well informed. I doubt very seriously she would have picked him if she felt he was going to be an obstructionists. Having someone on board who is concerned about spending would be a good way thing, not a bad thing. I say give him the opportunity to serve. I'm assuming if he can be appointed he can be removed so appoint him....
Mike In Smyrna
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June 12, 2013
Fair warning Commissioner Cupid – a shot has been fired across the bows.
Gringo Bandito
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June 12, 2013
Tim Lee is going to oppose anyone who doesn't fall in line with his bosses at the Chamber of Commerce.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 12, 2013
Lee doesn't want an independent thinker on any committee, he wants a rubber stamp yes man/woman. Sort of like Obama wanting to appoint an ideologue he doesn't need to micromanage to carry out "common goals". Lee the Chamber of Commerce lapdog....
West Cobb
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June 12, 2013
Mr. Lee, be careful of the slippery slide you seem intent upon riding.
Readmopaper
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June 12, 2013
This is similar to the concept of "Stakeholder". You can only qualify as a "Stakeholder" if you are already aligned with whatever the county government wants. SPLOST oversight requires a Pro-SPLOST perspective and a preference to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

Resistance is futile.
One person's FF
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June 12, 2013
In the vein of one person's "freedom fighter" being another person's "domestic terrorist," one person's "immigration reformer" is another person's "local racist."

How about instead of Lamberton, they appoint the backyard chicken guy to the "how many ways can we spend SPLOS-Tax revenue on whatever we want" committee? On this here topic of SPLOS-Tax, chicken guy is "not one that is to the extreme on one side or the other," so he seems to be eminently qualified!
FROM TEXAS
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June 12, 2013
I guess if Lisa was picking Rose Wingnut Timmy would be all for that, after all she’s a chamber cheer leader girl. I’m not a Lance fan but he has a right to be on the board, sounds like Timmy Obama is doing some IRS profiling on Lance. If I was Lisa I wouldn’t like some old white guy male chauvinist tell me what to do. Maybe Timmy’s wife needs to step down form Must Ministries after all they get lots of money from the county could say Timmy getting a huge rebate on tax money in his wife’s salary. Crooked Is As Crooked Does.
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