Ethics board hears 2nd complaint over Braves stadium
by Jon Gillooly
May 14, 2014 04:00 AM | 2410 views | 7 7 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee
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MARIETTA — The Cobb Board of Ethics met Tuesday to take up a second ethics complaint filed over the agreement between the county and Atlanta Braves to build a $672 million stadium by Cumberland Mall.

The complaint was brought against county Chairman Tim Lee by attorney Gary Pelphrey of east Cobb.

Pelphrey said, “The purpose of the Board of Ethics is to ensure that the people maintain confidence in their elected officials, and what Chairman Lee has done is everything he can to turn public participation in this effort into a sham.”

Pelphrey accuses Lee of violating Georgia’s Open Meetings law by briefing commissioners on the Braves deal in sets of two to avoid holding a public meeting.

Pelphrey calls these two-at-a-time briefings “Noah’s Ark meetings.”

His hope is for the ethics board to find Lee in violation of the ethics code.

“The purpose of this board is to make their determination of that, and if they do then it seems to me that the appropriate thing to do is reset and start this Braves thing right,” Pelphrey said. “I’m a big baseball fan. I’ve been a baseball fan since before most of the people in this room were born.”

Pelphrey said he is 78.

“Baseball is the great American pastime, but this is sullying it more than actually helping it,” he said.

Lee called the accusations “baseless and irresponsible.”

“From the very beginning and to this day and through the entire process I have worked in a very transparent and trusting way on behalf of the citizens of Cobb County,” said Lee, who was reached by phone after the hearing.

“I believe all of the claims made by the gentleman are baseless and irresponsible and a continued waste of taxpayers’ money to answer such frivolous and baseless accusations.”

Five of the seven ethics board members who initially met Tuesday to consider the complaint were Lt. Col. Mike Patellis of east Cobb, who chairs the board; Deborah King of south Cobb, an adjunct professor at Shorter University; retired businessman Richard Ziober of east Cobb; the Rev. Walter Moon of Marietta; and Marietta attorney Doug Shaddix of west Cobb.

Two board members were absent: Darrell Sutton, who was appointed to the ethics board by the Cobb Bar Association, and Robert Johnson, who represents the county employees.

Ethics board attorney Lynn Rainey said Johnson had recused himself since his mother, Deborah Dance, is the county attorney and will be answering the complaint filed against Lee.

The board voted 5-0 to replace Johnson with attorney Angeline Mathis, a former chairwoman of the ethics board.

It also replaced Rainey with attorney Robert Grayson.

Rainey recused himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, since he is also the attorney for the Cumberland Community Improvement District, a district that has committed $10 million to the stadium project.

The ethics board opted to hold its investigatory review, a meeting where it determines whether the grounds are sufficient to move forward with an investigation, for 6 p.m. on June 17.

Last month, the board rejected retired east Cobb businessman Larry Savage’s ethics complaint against commissioners over the Braves deal in vote of 6-1, with Moon opposed.

Lee said he was confident the ethics board would dismiss this latest case just as it did with Savage’s complaint.

“I believe I have on my side common sense and a true understanding of transparency, and again, doing the best I can for the citizens of Cobb County,” Lee said.

Comments
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anonymous
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May 14, 2014
Nothing like an ethics board packed with chamber approved cronies to make sure there are "no ethics violations".

Sadly, Tim Lee has no idea about ethical boundaries. He is a full blown puppet of the chamber...willin' to lie, bend the rules and do whatever it takes to make his masters in the chamber of commerce happy. And he does not care if anyone knows what he is doing.

Lee is as dishonest and arrogant as our dear leader Obama. But, he will always have box seats for the Braves games thanks to his deception(s) leading up to the Braves relocation to Cobb County.
Joseph Pond
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May 14, 2014
The Attorneys for the Ethics Board keep forgetting this part of the Code:

Sec. 2-46. (d) Officers by their conduct should avoid the appearance of impropriety, and the impression that any person could/can improperly influence them or unduly enjoy their favor in the performance of their official acts or duties.

Tony Cain
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May 14, 2014
The ethics board bombed Larry Savage...and did not even hear his complaint, after members had to recuse themselves for conflicts of interest.

Let's see if the board bombs an attorney. An attorney can fight back, in court. Let's see what happens.
Kennesaw Resident
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May 14, 2014
If Lee is doing the best he can for the residents of Cobb County, we are in a heap of trouble.
anonymous
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May 14, 2014
It now makes perfect sense why Lee is pushing the Chamber to back Weatheford with campaign money
JR in Mableton
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May 14, 2014
This is stupid....stop wasting everyone's time with these complaints.
Rich Pellegrino
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May 16, 2014
JR in Mableton, I guess you have no time or patience for ethics in government and like shady back room deals, corporate welfare, crony capitalism...and other forms of corruption that have apparently been part of the Cobb Way and the GA Way for years, according to our rankings as most corrupt in the nation. Oh..the good ole days and boys...
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