Tim Lee predicts ethics complaint will be dismissed
by Jon Gillooly
March 25, 2014 04:00 AM | 3731 views | 6 6 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Lee
Tim Lee
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Helen Goreham
Helen Goreham
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Bob Ott
Bob Ott
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JoAnn Birrell
JoAnn Birrell
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MARIETTA — County Chairman Tim Lee said he expects a “silly and frivolous” ethics complaint filed against him and three commissioners over the proposed Cobb County Atlanta Braves stadium to be dismissed.

“I fully expect the ethics board — and I don’t even know who’s on it — but I fully expect them to come back and say that it’s baseless and not even worth going forward on it,” Lee said.

Retired east Cobb businessman Larry Savage’s complaint, filed with the county clerk March 7, accuses Lee and commissioners Helen Goreham, Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell of violating their oath of office, the county’s ethics code and the state Constitution by voting in favor of building a $672 million stadium near the Cumberland Mall.

“It is the most immediate and most direct mechanism that I have to try to bring attention to it and get some remedial action,” Savage said.

Savage said he didn’t name Commissioner Lisa Cupid in the complaint because she voted against the deal.

The maximum penalty for an ethics violation is reprimand or censure. The board has no power to remove an official from office or fine them, said Lynn Rainey, ethics board attorney.

Commissioners have 30 days from the complaint’s filing to reply. Lee said county attorney Deborah Dance is preparing the response.

A month after commissioners answer the complaint, the ethics board will review the evidence, deciding whether the claim meets the legal threshold to move forward with a hearing. If the board determines the allegation doesn’t warrant a hearing, the complaint is dismissed, which is what occurred last year in the complaint Joseph Pond filed against Birrell pertaining to backyard chickens. If the board believes there is sufficient evidence to move forward, a hearing is scheduled where both parties are invited to present sworn testimony.

“At that hearing, the question is whether or not there’s clear and convincing evidence that there’s been a violation of the code,” Rainey said.

If either side disagrees with the board’s ruling, they have 30 days to appeal to Cobb Superior Court.

Ethics board attorney to recuse himself

Rainey, who also represents the Cumberland Community Improvement District, a group that committed $10 million for transportation improvements to the area around the proposed stadium, said he will be recusing himself from the case.

“I think based upon the nature of the complaint that I need to avoid any appearance that anybody might feel like I shouldn’t be there. I just think that’s the right thing to do,” Rainey said.

Rainey expects the board to appoint attorney Robert Grayson with Edwards, Friedewald & Grayson to fill in for him.

The seven-member ethics board is chaired by retired Lt. Col. Mike Patellis of east Cobb, who owns a property management company. The Cobb Civil Service Board appointed Patellis to the ethics board.

Other board members include Darrell Sutton, Richard Ziober, Doug Shaddix, Walter Moon, Robert Johnson and Deborah King.

Comments
(6)
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Tony Cain
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March 27, 2014
Larry is smart and sharp. We'll see what happens.
Community Lynn
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March 25, 2014
Is Mr. Savage's ethics complaint going to cost the taxpayers to defend those BOC members he named? Just curious.
Savage = no Braves
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March 25, 2014
Mr Savage is a man who is still reeling because he lost to Mr. Lee in two elections. Mr. Savage believes he was owed the commission chaimanship because he is the "weathy" one who lives in his gated community along the Chatahoochee while Mr. Lee is a regular East Cobb homeowner without the wealth of Mr. Savage. Mr. Savage has spent the last several years lying about and criticizing Mr. Lee so he can again run as commission chairmen. Enough of the little man costing us money on investigations so he can enhance his position in the next election. And thank you Mr. Lee for bring the Braves to Cobb.
Fix is already on
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March 25, 2014
With the confidence and arrogance Lee has, I'm sure it is because the "Fix" is already in progress, however, it is not a waste of time.
Just Wait
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March 25, 2014
They don't need a "fix" for this. It is a foolish attempt by someone who cannot get elected to the commission to make headlines.
I think you are wron
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March 26, 2014
Everyone knows Savage lost. This issue is different because tim did give Savage the stick he needed to hit him with. Just like you think Savage is still angry, maybe you are blinded by that same anger at him, and feel the way you do.
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