Kennesaw Mayor: City has no policy on credit card use
by Hannah Morgan
October 28, 2013 12:03 AM | 8443 views | 39 39 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Kennesaw’s elected officials have been wining, dining, dressing and traveling at the expense of the city’s taxpayers, racking up thousands of dollars in purchases on city credit cards during the last two years.

After being sworn into office, council members and the mayor are each given a city credit card, which they use when traveling, dining out on city business and purchasing items for their office duties.

“There is no formal ‘policy’ regarding the use of credit cards for the mayor and council,” said Mayor Mark Mathews. Nor does the city have any documented limits for spending, he said.

The only guidelines for spending are found in the city charter, Section 2.09, which reads: “Each council member and the mayor, when authorized by the mayor and council and upon presentation of itemized vouchers, shall receive their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties of office.”

The mayor and council members can use their city-issued credit cards on whatever they deem “reasonable,” according to at least three council members, and the city’s residents will foot the bill.

Between December 2012 and September 2013, Mathews spent more than $8,000 on restaurant tabs, flights to conventions and events across the country, iPad accessories and memorabilia for city residents.

Last month, the mayor charged $1,835 for lapel pins, which he called “Challenge Coins.” The coins were distributed to the players on Kennesaw Mountain High School and North Cobb High School’s football teams. The intent was to provide something tangible for the athletes to remember their first time playing at Kennesaw State University, he said.

He had proposed the idea at a council meeting before he ordered the coins, he said, and sent out an email the day he ordered them, and heard nothing negative from council members, so he went ahead and placed the order.

There is no state law or policy dealing with credit cards for city mayors or council members, said Rusi Patel, an associate attorney for the Georgia Municipal Association.

There are more than 500 cities in the state, Patel said, though he could not estimate how many issue city credit cards for elected officials, as cities are not required to report credit card information to the state.

Georgia law prohibits cities from filing for bankruptcy, Patel said, and city credit cards, “can’t be limitless,” or cities would have difficulties balancing their budgets.

How other Cobb cities handle credit cards

Neighboring Cobb County cities don’t have the same spending policies as Kennesaw.

The mayor and council members of Marietta do not have city-issued credit cards, said city spokeswoman Lindsay Thompson.

Acworth has cards available, but they must be requested by the elected official before each potential use.

“I don’t have a credit card,” said Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood.

Acworth has budgeted $5,000 annually for the city’s aldermen and Allegood’s business expenses, but to use the money the elected officials need to request the use of a city credit card.

“To my knowledge, nobody carries any credit cards,” Allegood said.

When Cris Welsh took office as a councilwoman in Kennesaw, she said she was handed a city credit card and was told to keep her receipts, and that she would be reimbursed for any “reasonable and necessary expenses.”

“I would hope that people would treat the city card like it is their own money,” she said of the council members, noting city employees do not have the privilege to use city credit cards like the elected officials.

Between December 2012 and Sept. 9, 2013, Welsh spent $2,948 with her city credit card, according to the monthly statements obtained by MDJ. Welsh, as well as many of her fellow council members, has racked up individual restaurant tabs of more than $100. There have also been multiple Monday-morning breakfast expenses of $25 each at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, and $15 expenses at monthly Kennesaw Business Association meetings.

Councilman Bruce Jenkins has spent more than $6,500 using his city credit card since January of this year, according to the statements, the highest amount among the five council members.

The mayor and other council members have spent hundreds of dollars within the past year at Cobb Chamber meetings, often a charge that is put through in advance by city Clerk Debra Taylor, said Councilman Jeff Duckett.

These include gatherings of the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association, the Honorary Commanders Association of Cobb County and the Atlanta Regional Leadership Institute, said Mathews, who is a member of each of these groups.

The city credit card comes in handy, Mathews said, when he brings business people and other Cobb County and Atlanta officials to Kennesaw and treats them to lunch, although he has his own system for turning in receipts and making sure the city’s money is being spent wisely.

For example, when the mayor visits hotels and pays for a room upgrade, or flies to conferences and pays to park, sometimes he doesn’t “go through the formality,” of documenting all of what needs to be reimbursed by the city, he said.

Instead, the mayor credits back large meals, like the $923 tab at Vic’s on the River in Savannah from July 2012, which was paid back to the city within the week. He said he doesn’t bother to keep track of every single cent he spends while out on city business.

“It would be a waste of time to document reimbursements,” he said, although it might look bad to “the idiots that like to look at the nickels and dimes stuff.”

Mathews said he can assure city residents he is honest with the city credit card.

Traveling on city business

Council members and the mayor take trips a handful of times each year on city business, said Mathews.

“The mayor and council have a budget line that covers professional development and typically includes one or maybe two training opportunities, on average, per year,” said Davis, the city spokeswoman.

Traveling to the annual Georgia Municipal Association Convention, a performance of Kennesaw’s Little General Cloggers in Nashville and the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C., are just a few of Mathews’ duties as mayor, as he travels for work maybe four times a year, he said.

Sometimes council members travel with Mathews to these events, as councilman Tim Killingsworth did last June to a performance of the city’s Little Cloggers dance troupe at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and Jenkins and Duckett did in January to the National League of Cities conference.

Before Kennesaw officials depart, hotel and flight reservations are planned and coordinated by the city clerk. They often do not have control over where they stay and what flights they get on, although the clerk usually books the conference hotel if available, said Davis.

When council members travel on city business, as Duckett and Mathews did in January 2013, they bring the city credit cards with them, Duckett said, and use them for travel-related expenses such as taxis, hotel reservations, meals and conference fees.

Where, when and how much council members spend with their credit cards varies with each situation, they said, although Welsh reiterated that “We don’t have a travel and expenditure policy at all.”

Off to the annual GMA convention

The Georgia Municipal Association holds an annual five-day convention, which elected officials across the state are encouraged to attend, listen to reports from fellow government leaders, go to lectures and leadership classes, and spend time honing their leadership skills.

Kennesaw council members are encouraged each year to attend, and often bring their families with them, said Duckett. Council members traditionally stay in the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf and Spa Hotel, where rooms run from $179 to $599 a night. While the council members are not in the conference, they have the chance to hang out in the hostess city of the South and enjoy the spa, golf course and private beach access offered by the hotel.

In June 2012, the mayor and council members each spent more than $1,000 to stay at the Westin in Savannah, and each spent hundreds of dollars on meals around the city, according to credit card statements.

“If the conference includes activities for spouses then the city would pick up the expenses,” Mathews said.

But now, he added, he does not use the city credit card for any family expenses.

Killingsworth said the same.

“Not just for Savannah but all of the time, I typically do not use the city card for any family member unless they are in a role to promote the city’s best interest at that time,” he said.

The spouses of the city officials often stay in the same rooms as the council members and mayor, Killingsworth said, but extra rooms for children are often paid for out of pocket, he thought.

Bruce Jenkins and Cris Welsh did not stay at the Westin. They stayed at the Best Western and the Hampton Inn, respectively, across the river, they said.

Welsh was a speaker at the GMA, so her hotel was paid for by the GMA, and Bruce Jenkins stayed at the Best Western, for about $640, according to a June credit card statement.

The city of Acworth has not attended the GMA convention in the last four years, said Mayor Allegood, because of the dip in the economy. Acworth budgeted $5,000 last year for expenses related to out-of-town council trainings, he said.

In Kennesaw, the mayor and council spent $5,000 at one event last year, the GMA annual conference. For the first nine months of this year, they have charged a little more than $23,000 on city credit cards for meals, hotel stays and other items.

“It’s just something that you need to apply common sense to, and we have looked at it many times over the years,” Mathews said of using the city credit cards.

Meals on the taxpayers’ dime

Council members, like the mayor, often meet with business owners and nearby elected officials, they said, and many of them racked up hundreds of dollars in the past year in meals, over which city business was discussed.

Jenkins, while on a trip to Washington, D.C., last March, spent more than $1,000 in meals, flight and hotel expenses, including a $25 trip to the popular frozen yogurt shop Pinkberry in Georgetown, and a $30 charge at the National Cathedral Gift Shop, where Jenkins said he bought a guidebook.

Jenkins said he hopes to use the book to teach Kennesaw Youth Council members about the cathedral, if he ever brings them on a trip to the nation’s Capitol.

There is currently no trip planned to bring members of the city’s Youth Council to Washington, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he has increased the amount of meetings he has been holding in the months since former council member Bill Thrash died, which explains multiple trips to McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, CVS, Cracker Barrel and Kroger in the last few months.

“To my knowledge there has never been an expense that was unjustified in any of the expenses we have all spent,” Jenkins said, although he admitted he hoped the city would move toward adopting a per diem policy for the city credit cards.

The council and the mayor traditionally spend one night a year eating out together with their spouses and children, Mathews said. The celebration began before Mathews took office, and gives the council members and their families a chance to bond and build as a team, Killingsworth said.

Former Mayor Leonard Church remembers using his city-issued credit card, for which there were no written policies, to treat the Kennesaw council members at the GMA conference in Savannah, he said.

When Mathews assumed office he continued that tradition.

“Most council members as well as myself typically only cover spouse and possible family expenses if we are doing something as a group. Such as what used to be the ‘Mayor’s Dinner.’” Mathews said.

The most recent supper was at Vic’s on the River in Savannah on June 22, 2012, a meal that cost $923.20, charged by Mathews on a city credit card, but credited back to the city by the mayor in the beginning of July, according to the credit card statement.

Candidates weigh in

When James Sebastian, who is running against Duckett for the Post 5 council seat, filed a public records request on the city council members’ credit card expenditures, it was hard to determine why certain receipts were included, he said, as there was no notation of who attended meetings or meals, or why the meals needed to be paid for by taxpayers.

“Rather than having a credit card and the city footing the bill, we would make individuals pay the bills and the city would reimburse them afterward,” Sebastian said.

Debra Williams, who is running for Kennesaw City Council Post 4 against Matt Riedemann, made it clear she did not agree with the current lack of a policy on credit card use.

“I do not feel our elected officials have proven themselves responsible enough to carry the city credit card on their persons at all times,” she said.

Williams said she would like to see the policy changed to require the mayor and council to “check out” a credit card from city hall before they leave for out-of-town business meetings. When taking people to lunch locally, Williams said she thinks elected officials should have to turn in receipts in order to later be reimbursed, instead of paying upfront with the card.

“When there is no accountability, there is no responsibility,” said Briggett Washington, who is running for council Post 3 against Church and Jenkins. Washington believes there should be receipts kept for every single purchase made with the city credit cards, and rules put in place to designate specific places where council members can spend city money.

Some see no need for policy change

Still, the idea of implementing a credit card spending policy doesn’t seem necessary, said Church, the former mayor who is now running for Jenkins’ seat on the council.

“We are all grown-ups here,” he said. “It is not the card’s fault, it is the one using it.”

A per diem policy, Killingsworth said, would end up wasting taxpayer money.

“A per diem would be wasteful for the taxpayers, as it would pay you for three meals a day (whether used or not). If you look at my statements, you won’t be able to find me using the card to pay for three meals a day,” he said, whether in Kennesaw or out of town.

Duckett has spent roughly $4,500, Jenkins, $6,500, Welsh and Killingsworth almost $3,000 each, and the mayor about $8,200 from December 2012 through Sept. 9, 2013. Since taking office after former councilman Bill Thrash’s death in May, Riedemann has spent just more than $200 with his city credit card.

Comments
(39)
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Lisa d.
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November 01, 2013
Why is it that the mayor holds a town hall several times a year and none of you show up and ask these questions or any of the questions related to this? Where are you all at any of the council work sessions or council meetings? If this really means that much to you, why weren't you all questioning it during the last election when it was posted?

Why sit back now and attack here when he's not even the one up for election? Please, get to the town halls. Go to the meetings any time you can. Even if it's just one or two. Demand that we get the council we deserve. Demand that we get the mayor we deserve.
Eileen Alberstadt
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November 01, 2013
Lisa:

I do go to the Town Hall Meetings and the City Council Meetings. This was all just brought to the public's attention when 2 individuals came forward after reading the budget. I personally am not a #'s person and do not understand budget's except my own let alone a city. We are demanding answers now that we are aware. I never knew about the spending and credit cards, now; I will be pulling those records on a regular basis. We need to demand a lot of things. We have two excellent candidates that are running to replace two of the incumbents. They have education and clean backgrounds. I have voted already and I will fight for change. Thanks for your comments. I think more people need to go to the meetings and get involved.
anonymous
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October 30, 2013
$524 at Dicks sporting goods? What was that for???
yep2
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October 31, 2013
Bruce needed new sports stuff I guess.
Eileen Alberstadt
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November 01, 2013
2.) Dicks sporting goods for shirts summer and winter shirts for again for the eight member City's Youth Council and their sponsors with monograming their names with the city logo, their "uniform" for this year long leadership training.

I have checked all of this out! At least you are questioning. Thank you!

Bruce Jenkins
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October 30, 2013
A recent article published highlighted the desperate need for a "per diem policy" in our city, as a resident for 23 years and homeowner. Questions, great questions are needed to be asked and answered I personally draw from the article. Some facts are left dimly lit and are haunting, strained from view in many cases that are sited in the article. I personally understand a budget and wasteful spending. I voted against the recent budget because of the increased revenue usage? I voted against the only tax increase in nearly 20 years.

Some examples of purchases mentioned:

1.) $113.00 at PaPa Johns for Pizza, this was for lunch for our City's eight member Youth Council, their three sponsors, administrators on a visit to the State Capitol with Senator Tippens and Rep. Setzler allowing them to save money by having lunch in their office rather then going to a local restaurant, (in this area, more expensive and less personal time with these elected officials).

2.) Dicks sporting goods for shirts summer and winter shirts for again for the eight member City's Youth Council and their sponsors with monograming their names with the city logo, their "uniform" for this year long leadership training.

3.) At the National League of Cities Conference in DC, The purchase at the Pink-berry Ice Cream shop mentioned, after dinner, along with many others in attendance was purchased by another City official from Denver, I felt Kennesaw's hospitality should be shown to the other guests in attendance and purchase their ice cream, a $25.00 investment.

Why was I attending the NLC convention and looking after the Youth Council, or going to the Dairy Queen to meet a ailing Council member to update him by the giving of care with city business, simple answer. If you notice and take time to see, hear and understand the facts...in many cases, its simple, I cared for a fellow council member, Bill Thrash and many others. In his case, I tried to care for a dream that we didn't want to see die with him. His legacy of being named to the NLC's Youth Education & Families Commission, etc. The list goes on, in this parade of specters, but to stop, point out that even in this season of ghosts and goblins, this is not a "which hunt"; it is a need for clarity, team work. Our community needs to gain the facts and grasp what we are doing with their funds. For those who take the time, their are reasons I do what I do, it is not for personal gain, personal consumptions, it is simple. My mentor taught me that simply breaking bread with someone was the greatest clear sign of acceptance. My mentor demonstrated this with the simple act of inviting himself to Zacchaeus's home for dinner. Just mediate on the mission, discover the reasons and purpose for expenses, these can usually be found or should I say demonstrated in something as simple as what I call "Character".

Fond regards,

Bruce

Biz Sense
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October 29, 2013
Common practice for employees of major corporations is to present a receipt for EVERY single expense listed. Why is the mayor of a small town NOT required to do the same thing?

And why are so many "meetings" taking place at a restaurant or the "meetings" followed by a meal at a restaurant? If my employer did that we would all weigh 400 lbs. and the company would go broke.

Mayor Matthews, if your policies are working so well, why does the City of Acworth look so much better?

oldvoter
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October 29, 2013
Boy if there is any puppets it Sam Paglioni!! his string is being pulled by three women...Chris, Debra and Eileen.
Sam Paglioni
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October 29, 2013
oldvoter,

Negatory, strings can only be pulled with respect to advancing an agenda from which I would personally profit. Ergo, your comment holds no merit.

Eileen and Debra asked me to run for the City Council, so if I did, you might have a point.

No, my strings are pulling for the citizens of Kennesaw and the City Workers who make it all tick.

Nice attempt to discredit me, but my postings are of my own volition.
Mark Mathews
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October 29, 2013
Effective governance is all about building relationships. We need to engage with people and understand their concerns and priorities so we can set goals and develop policies. We’re all part of the larger community and when we work together, we all benefit.



Relationships, though, take work. They grow and thrive through communication in both the formal, business environment as well as the social one. Attending training, meetings, and conferences is an essential part of understanding and take advantage of opportunities. And in the normal flow of these activities, there are invariably social occasions where ideas are exchanged in a more relaxed atmosphere.



Yes, leaders in every arena need to be fiscally responsible and those that abuse the trust of their constituency by acting frivolously should be called on it. That’s not the case with Kennesaw, in spite of any inference. Credit card expenditures by city officials were and are in every case, made to support and promote the best interest of the city. Travel and entertainment, training, and technology expenses are necessary in government just as they would be in business. Our relationships with the Georgia Municipal Association, Chamber of Commerce, Cobb Leadership, and Atlanta Regional Commission are important to our city and deserve our involvement. Whether other cities value and invest in those relationships is not our call.



My relationship with the media has always been open and honest. I have always understood the necessity of communicating with members of the press. I have responded to questions without strict filters because I trusted that my answers would be reported accurately and in the context of the conversation. It is a sad statement on journalism that comments I made are twisted and manipulated to satisfy some unknown hidden agenda. If the press is looking for corruption in Kennesaw, they won’t find it.
Really??
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October 29, 2013
Mark,

There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting the city, attending training classes and the like.

Nobody is contesting that.

The issue is there are no limits on credit card use and you seemm perfectly Ok with that.

How did the media twist your words?

Did you not call the citizens idiots? Where those not your words?

The city should make reservations at moderate priced hotels for out of town trips. If you want to upgrade to a 5 star resort, that should come out of your own pocket.

If you want to take your family with you, that should come out of your own pocket.

Meals should be reasonable. If you want to eat at the best restaurant in town, that comes out of your own pocket.

The citizens of Kennesaw pay your salary, pay for your benefits, and pay your credit card bills.

I would thank you to take that into consideration.

You work for us, not the other way around.

You love to talk about how much Bruce spends.

Well, as Mayor, set a limit. Set restrictions, nip this in the bud. Get it taken care of.

With Matt, Tim and Jeff voting on everything the way you tell them to vote, you can set the policy at the next meeting.

But you won't. You are living a lifestyle off taxpayers money that you could not otherwise afford.
and the winner is
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October 29, 2013
The biggest spender of all time is on the ballot....former Mayor Leonard Church!

In addition to extravagant dinners for families, lavish retreats, etc... let's not forget the $25,000 "redo" election when he lost to Mathews and the $2million racial discrimination lawsuit payout that happened under his 8 year watch.

No nickles and dimes there.
LOL3
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October 29, 2013
Pam Eaton you are so full of yourself!!! Why don't you get the facts correct??
get the facts
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October 30, 2013
these comments are wrong. if you call city clerk you will find out that cost for re-election was $3100. Church was not in office when that racial suite came down. I work for the city. these statements are wrong. I have no idea what you could be referring to on lavish retreats?? Only retreats were for full M&C. I guess you will say anything when thinks are not going your way.
Old Doc
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October 28, 2013
Mr. DA: Please call a special grand jury for this. Georgia law has been clearly violated here and we need you now!
Mr. Owens
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October 28, 2013
King Mark Mathews and his Puppets ( Jeff Duckett & Tim Killingsworth) have got to go. Kennesaw has become the BUTT of the County Jokes. These expenses are nothing compared to the money he has made by handing out various contracts for city projects. Hell,.. His current $80,000 yr. job with Metro Atlanta Ambulance as " Goverment Relations",is a glaring example of his profitting from his position at the city. What the hell is that?I've heard of public relations, but it's not about taking care of the public anymore I guess. It must just be about keeping those "Good Old Boy Politics" inline...and happy????
KennesawOne
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October 28, 2013
If you take the hatchet out of your hand you will be able to write your "editorials" much more quickly.



Really??
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October 29, 2013
So this article is a "hatchet job"?

Are the numbers not accurate?

Are the quotes not accurate?
voter in kennesaw
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October 28, 2013
Now let me see if I got this correct. Jenkins said he bought a book at the National Cathedral Gift shop, now let me quote from above article, He, Jenkins, said and I quote,..."he bought the guidebook to use to teach Kennesaw Youth Council Members about the National Cathedral" end quote. I think Jenkins under estimates our youth of today. If he wanted them to learn about the National Cathedral just let them go online to find all the info they needed, and it is free. I did. Jenkins spent $30 of tax payers money for something that is free online. Than Jenkins spent $25 to go to Georgetown to have a Frozen Yogurt. Spent $25 of tax payers money for a Yogurt, really!!!! I guess he wanted to study the Nation Cathedral guide book.. Jenkins is the biggest ABUSER of the city credit card. the card needs to be taken away from him!
Starts At The Top
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October 29, 2013
You complain about Jenkins use of the card.

Yet the MAYOR sets the tone.

He apparently is happy with no credit policy in the city, and doesn't seem interested in establishing one.

It starts at the top.

Mark Mathews is the rotten apple at the top of city government.

I agree with Old Doc above, can we PLEASE get some law enforcement in here to look at what's going on in Kennesaw City Hall?

And what does it say about Metro Ambulance, who actually keeps this guy on payrole? He's ruining their public relations image. How long are they going to put up with negative articles about their "Government Relations Manager"???????
Tired of it
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October 28, 2013
I cannot believe the arrogant attitude of Mark Mathews.

He flat out admits that the city has non policy governing the use of credit cards, and appears to be in no rush to get one on the books.

Mr Mayor, that is NOT your money that you are spending.

Mr. Killingsworth is obbviously clueless as to what a "per diem" means. I hope the good citizens of Kennesaw vote him and Mathews out of office in two years.

In the meantime, there is a chance to change up city council in just a few days (advanced voting starts today at the Ben Robertson center).

The Mathews puppets, Duckett and Reideman need to go.

If the citizens of Kennesaw care about their community, those 2 will go now, and next election Mathews and Killingsworth will be next.

The chance to clean up your town is right now.
KennesawSkater
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October 28, 2013
First of all, someone surely has noticed that Mr. Jenkins has outspent the Mayor several times over the past several months. We may not agree with the spending habits however it certainly makes more sense for a city Mayor to travel around promoting the city than it does a council member who is outspending everyone else. Also of concern to this citizen is the fact that council members seem to believe they all need to travel together to every event. Isn't one representative enough per event since the economy has been in a slump?

As for the dining out, my question is this...what would the city employees be told if they attempted to use the cards in this manner? Many of the employees are outstanding advocates for the city. Are they allowed this latitude?
The Top
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October 28, 2013
It comes from the top, how are they being led?

Why are they all going to so many trips out of town as a pack?

What is their travel budget.. it sounds like from this article that they have spent 400% more than Acworth's whole budget.. how much more is to come?
Common sense
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October 28, 2013
Dear "Kennesaw Skater",

The article gives no detail on what most of the money is spent on. Just because one council man spent more, doesn't mean anything. We need to know the details of what it was spent on before we can judge whether or not it's wasteful spending.

The main take away from the article is that Mayor Mathews appears very happy with the fact that there is no credit care policy in place, doesn't seem interested in putting one in place, thinks reimbursement accounting is a waste of time and calls citizens "idiots" if they are concerned about the mayor and council spending tax dollars.

His attitude is horrible.

Every citizen in the city should be offended by those remarks.

Haven't you realized that in the last couple of years, every time Kennesaw is mentioned in the paper it's because Mayor Mathews has done or said something stupid?

Aren't you tired of your city being called out all the time?

Kennesaw seriously needs new leadership, and it starts at the top.
Eileen Alberstadt
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October 28, 2013
Bruce Jenkins may have spent funds, but; remember he was doing double the City Council work. He was attending meetings and doing all of the work for himself and was handling the duties of The Late Bill Thrash as well. Just wanted everyone to know this.
resident2
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October 28, 2013
Eileen, How dumb are you??? Jenkins didn't have to attend any more meeting than he already wasn't. Double duty oh what a joke. Why does every meeting he has have to be at the DQ or McDonalds?? Why can't he do meeting between meal times, oh I forgot he's a big boy and needs to keep his strength up. Jenkins needs to go and go he will.
Sam Paglioni
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October 27, 2013
My compliments to Hannah Morgan's "above the fold" article on Kennesaw. I have been vocal on the subject of spending by the City Council and hope this is just the first of investigative journalism about what goes on in City Council. I would like to add a few items to her article which may have hit the "edit floor" by the editors.

My information comes from having personally submitted Open Record Requests regarding the travel of Mark Mathews specifically to Savannah. So what I provide here can be substantiated.

Mark elected to spend the taxpayers money at the Westin during the Georgia Municipal Association meeting. One fact left out of the article was that he upgraded his room for $30 per night, pushing his "all in" total per night for the room to approximately $290.

Mr. Killingsworth's comments that per diem's cost the taxpayer money should be held up for a bit more scrutiny. Is it possible that he was misquoted in the article? Or is he simply suggesting that because a per diem is offered he would take it regardless of if he ate three meals per day? Astounding admission which voters should remember during his next election.

Ms. Morgan could probe a little deeper on the spending subject by aligning the rationale for travel by the Mayor to Savannah last June with the subject matter the Mayor actually attended. For example, she could request a copy of the Georgia Municipal Association agenda for the 2013 meeting and simply ask the Mayor what events he attended? Was it necessary for him to arrive on the 21st of June if he didn't attend the OPEB lecture? There's probably a little more story there for Ms. Morgan to investigate.

The Citizens of Kennesaw have an opportunity to vote in some new candidates who share leadership on the spending subject, as well as the under-funded pension liabilities and the "other post retirement benefits" (OPEB) currently consuming the balance sheet of the City.

Let's be honest with our City Employees about the types of benefits we can provide them, and those that might have to be altered due to unsustainable growth of the benefit. All one has to do is obtain a copy of the 2009 CAFR from the City's website and compare it to the 2012 CAFR and you'll see the alarming growth of the OPEB liability.

Think I am off base? If Ms. Morgan checks the agenda of the June 2013 Association meeting the Mayor spent taxpayer money to attend, the very first session was on "Other Post Retirement Benefits" and the impact to balance sheets.
really2
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October 28, 2013
Paglioni, I think you missed the mark here. Jenkins is the biggest user of the city credit card not the Mayor. Why don't you look at all of the credit card statements. Jenkins way out spends the Mayor and all the other council together. Get your facts straight.
Sam Paglioni
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October 29, 2013
Dear Really,

First, thank you for the response and taking the time to read the article. The question is not use but substantiation. The question of using the City's credit card for personal expenditures, not charged to the City but paid by the user, may be the reason for Jenkins excessive use. The purchase of the book and its rationale are a bit weak, I'll let Mr. Jenkins respond to that.

Not having a travel and expense policy that is defined is directed by leadership. Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Welsh are in the minority to enact substantial change in the City's policies. Mr. Mathews's expenses seem more egerious, if wasting of the tax-payer's money at any level can be quantified in degrees.

I have tipped the dominos on the subject, you can see that in my blog on the Kennesaw Patch entitled "Wake Up Kennesaw". You will see that the issues surrounding the City of Kennesaw go a bit deeper than just spending, they go to future liabilities accruing at alarming rates.

I am not running for or seeking political office and was generally apathetic about the City (see my blog From Apathy to Advocacy), and I do support Williams, Sebastian and Jenkins for the posts. I've spent time with all of the to determine their thoughts on the subjects I raise in my blog (i.e. pensions for City Council members, pensions for city workers and future retirement liabilities to name a few).

Mr. Duckett and Mr. Reidemann have not reached out to me for any type of dialogue on the subject. They are, as many have posted here, philosophically aligned with Mark Mathews.

That makes a voting "cabal", along with Tim Killingsworth, to effectively make the votes of Jenkins and Welsh useless.

In closing, I was a previously apathetic voter assuming the elected officials were good stewards of out taxpayer dollars. Besides, Kennesaw is only 9 square miles with 30,000 people, how much damage could be done? My advocacy was ignited when I was approached to run for City Council. In considering the idea I simply printed out the publicly available budget that the City posts on its website to get an idea of what I might be getting myself into. I did not end up running. My blogs reflect the information obtained there with cited footnotes to the financial statements. I simply reviewed the information and could not believe what I read. I hope the voters of Kennesaw will make a thoughtful review of the candidates, the issues at hand and the future of the City and vote appropriately.
Just Wait
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October 27, 2013
O.K., either Kennesaw is the epitome of small town corrupt politics, or the MDJ has it out for it.
no mistake
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October 28, 2013
Your first guess is the correct one.

Kennesaw politics is rotten to the core, and it starts at the top.

2nd Guess
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October 29, 2013
The MDJ doesn't have all the facts
Big Shanty Girl
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October 27, 2013
Exactly what the citizens of Kennesaw would expect.
Common Sense
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October 27, 2013
An honest person with a per diem policy is the best scenario. The state of Georgia has travel guidelines that could be used. My understanding is that a per diem amount is the limit for each meal. When being reimbursed (if done after the fact), claim only what the individual's meal cost rather than the entire limit. A reimbursement policy incorporating the state travel guidelines seems to be the best scenario.
KennesawSkater
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October 28, 2013
Common Sense,

I agree with you. However, the Mayor has no governmental or legal control over the council. He cannot regulate what they do. They govern themselves. I was told that and could not believe it so i called the Attorney General's office and yes, it is true. Unfortunately, the council does not have to follow the Mayor and vice versa. In this case, they can all be rotten and that seems to be what we have here.

As for the details of what is spent, yes, there are details which can be see in the form of an open records request and it's quite alarming to see how much Bruce Jenkins has continued to outspend everyone, even Mathews. The sitting members of the council are the ones who had the ability to stop him from abusing it. They also could have stopped the Mayor if they felt he was abusing it. For any of them to sit and point fingers at one another is absurd. They only turn on one another when it's election time and there is nothing to be gained.

Your comment above about "an honest person with a per diem policy" is right on. Not sure we are dealing with the "honest person" in this scenario.

As for stopping it at the top, it's going to have to stop here, with us as citizens. We are the only ones who can stop this. We have the vote.

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