No need for ‘real news’ with ‘culture wars’ and with santa on the way
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
December 21, 2013 12:00 AM | 5249 views | 0 0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHO’S NAUGHTY AND WHO’S NICE this holiday season? Well, your answer probably is determined by which side you come down on in the ongoing “culture wars” and how you feel about the Atlanta Braves’ move to Cobb County.

The holiday season usually brings little substantive in the way of news and that’s true this year as well. On the other hand, “culture war” topics seem to have reached a crescendo in recent days. In addition to the usual “War on Christmas” rhetoric, there’s been Megyn Kelly’s “Santa is white” faux pas, the “Duck Dynasty” debacle, and closer to home this week, Savannah U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s remarks and now the news that a senior City of Atlanta official, Hans Utz, deputy chief operating officer, used a slur (“Cobb Crackers”) and expletive (“the Smyrna S---holes”) to describe the people of Cobb on the day the Braves move to Cobb was announced.

With fun stuff like this to write about, who needs “real” news?


UTZ WAS SUSPENDED without pay after news of his comments began to come to light. State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), who played a key role in hooking up Braves officials with Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee this summer called on Thursday for Utz to be fired, and we’re sure plenty of others in Cobb, and especially Smyrna, probably feel the same way.

If Utz had made his toxic remarks at a press conference or other public forum we’d be inclined to agree.

But they were made in an internal email to fellow Reed staffers. Most of us probably have said something we’ve shouldn’t have in an email at some point or another. We say that this being the holiday season, and in light of the fact that he has profusely apologized (see his letter nearby), Reed should let bygones be bygones and let Utz keep his job.

Besides, annoying as they were, they also were another reminder as to the mindset of so many inside the Perimeter.


SO WHEN Santa comes Wednesday, what is he likely to leave behind? Well, Kris Kringle was kind enough to leak Around Town a copy of his list. He’s bringing …

Chairman Tim Lee — a Braves uniform to wear.

Cobb Commissioners Bob Ott, Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell — catcher’s mitts with which to catch the flak they’re receiving from tea partiers and others in their districts for supporting the Braves move.

Cobb Tea Partiers — baseball bats with which to (figuratively, of course) bash the commission for supporting the move.

Hans Utz — a bar of soap with which to wash out his mouth.

11th District Congressional candidate Tricia Pridemore of Marietta — $1 million in campaign contributions from Santa to spend on TV ads during next year’s primary runoff campaign.

11th District Congressional candidate Bob Barr of Smyrna — $1 million in campaign contributions from Santa to spend on TV ads during next year’s primary runoff campaign.

U.S. Senate candidate Jack Kingston of Savannah — a Newt Gingrich “The Gingrich Who Stole Christmas Doll” to remind himself to think twice before commenting when talking to the media in order to keep from shooting himself in the foot with potential voters, like he did this week with his comments about requiring free-lunch students to sweep cafeteria floors in order to “earn” their school lunch.

U.S. Senate candidate Phil Gingrey of Marietta — a new Evinrude outboard motor for his campaign, which according to various polls and critics is “dead in the water” at present.

U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel — who narrowly lost a runoff for governor in 2010 to Nathan Deal, but who polls now show is lagging badly in her efforts to win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate — a CD of the old Hank Williams hit “Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used to Do?”

“Establishment” Georgia Republicans — A year’s worth of hair-restoration treatments. They’re already said to be tearing their hair out over the distinct possibility that tea party/(Ron/Rand) Paul favorite Rep. Paul Broun of Athens might be their standard-bearer in next year’s U.S. Senate race.

Georgia Democrats — An iTunes gift card with which to download a recording of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the song they’ve been humming ever since Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle Nunn entered the U.S. Senate race to succeed Saxby Chambliss and Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason Carter announced plans to run for governor against Deal.

Lockheed Martin execs — fire-proof suits. They need them in the wake of the public’s reaction to this week’s corporate decision to stop supporting the Boy Scouts of America because the Scouts refuse to allow gay men to serve as Scoutmasters and don’t allow avowed atheists to join.

The Atlanta Braves — they already got their Christmas gift a month early, courtesy of the Cobb Board of Commissioners.

Cobb Braves fans — they get a great gift but won’t get to start enjoying it until 2017, when the team’s new stadium opens in Cobb, meaning no more long drives to Turner Field and no more worrying about getting mugged in the stadium parking lot.

The Atlanta Falcons — The Birds actually get two gifts this year, despite being “bad.” The first comes Jan 6 when a deeply disappointing “Same Old Falcons” season for players and fans finally comes to an end. The second comes this spring when the team will enjoy a Top Ten pick in the annual college player draft.

Marietta Traditionalists — The grass will still be green — and will still be real grass, not artificial turf — at Marietta High School’s historic Northcutt Stadium for the foreseeable future, thanks to the Marietta School Board, which wisely voted this week to buck the local trend toward turf.

The Cobb School Board — Its stocking will be filled with lumps of coal, courtesy not of Santa but of the Development Authority of Cobb County and developer John Williams. (The Authority recently OK’d a 10-year property tax abatement for Williams’ $103 million Riverwalk project, which is expected to cost the school board about $5 million all told at a time when the board is facing a $79 million budget shortfall.)

Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin — He and the city council got their present two months ago courtesy of city voters: $68 million in bond funds with which to buy decaying apartment complexes along Franklin Road for redevelopment.


IT WASN’T A HOLIDAY GIFT but probably almost seemed like one Friday when a $50,000 check from Councilman Philip Goldstein was hand-delivered to City Attorney Doug Haynie. The check covers the amount Goldstein was ordered to pay the city in attorney fees by Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger earlier this month.

Goldstein had unsuccessfully sued Mayor Tumlin and the Council back in 2011 challenging their refusal to allow him to build an office tower on Marietta Square that would exceed the city’s height limit. Kreeger’s ruling came after the Goldstein appealed to the state Supreme Court and lost.


POLITICS: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of east Cobb has signed onto the “Sense of the Senate” resolution introduced by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) that protests the disproportionate cost-of-living cuts for military retirees younger than age 62 that were included in this week’s long-awaited budget deal. The resolution states the Senate should seek other cuts instead. Chambliss is senior member of the Senate Armed Service Committee and Isakson serves on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.


THE MARIETTA CITY COUNCIL voted Dec. 13 to guarantee $221,000 in interest payments rung up by the Marietta Redevelopment Corp. in the course of its $4 million property-buying spree in the Hedges/Gramling Street area. That vote prompted a local banker to ask Around Town at Thursday’s joint Marietta Kiwanis/Rotary Club meeting, “How do I get the city to guarantee some of my loans?”

He was joking … we think.

Happy Holidays!

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