Ethics complaint brought against Kennesaw mayor
by Ricky Leroux
August 13, 2014 04:00 AM | 4391 views | 7 7 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mark Mathews
Mark Mathews
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KENNESAW — A Kennesaw resident and longtime critic of Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews filed an ethics complaint against the mayor Tuesday, alleging he improperly used public funds on a personal matter, a charge Mathews rebuts.

According to the Kennesaw city code, the city clerk must give the complaint to the Kennesaw Ethics Board within three days. After receiving the complaint, the board will determine its merit. If it is found to be frivolous or unfounded, the board members have the power to dismiss it. If the complaint is found to have merit, however, the board will call a hearing.

According to ciry code, the hearing must be conducted within 60 days of receiving the complaint. If a hearing is not conducted in that time frame, the complaint is automatically dismissed and cannot be refiled for six months.

Tuesday’s ethics complaint is the latest in a long saga of conflict between Bill Harris, a retired retail operations investigator who filed the complaint, and the mayor. The issue at hand involves a website with the address mayormathews.blogspot.com, which Harris writes on.

At the Aug. 4 meeting of the Kennesaw City Council, Mathews described the issue he had with the website.

“There were a couple of different sources that had put out information, one that actually was impersonating me, that was brought to my attention by a citizen, who also pointed out that some of the residents believed that I had made those statements directly,” he said. “And that was inaccurate. And so that had to be addressed.”

After finding out about the blog post, Mathews said he brought it to the attention of the city attorney, Randall Bentley.

“It was brought to my attention and I forwarded it to the city attorney. The city attorney reviewed it, and we discussed it with the city council,” he said.

The discussion resulted in a cease and desist letter being drafted against Harris, which Mathews said was done based on Brantley’s advice.

“It was done at his request, and the council authorized it. I would hope he’s giving proper legal advice and he’s operating within his legal bounds, which I’m confident that he is. And it was done with full authorization with the council,” he said.

The cease and desist letter states the website “appears to impersonate Mayor Mathews by using his name as the title of the blog and stating ‘Current Mayor of Kennesaw, Ga.,’ yet making no claim that is conspicuous and public in manner of the author/ownership by Bill Harris.”

In his ethics complaint, Harris, a Kennesaw resident for more than 13 years, alleges the mayor used “his official position to fraudulently secure personal representation by the Kennesaw City Attorney” to draft a cease and desist letter against Harris.

Harris’ complaint goes on to say the mayor made “false claims of libel and slander” to induce the city council and city attorney to draft the letter.

The complaint also states the issue “was and remains one that the mayor should have taken up with a private attorney paid for out of his own funds and not by using the city attorney to take up the matter.”

Harris claims Mathews used more than $1,000 in city resources to draft the letter.

When made aware of the complaint, council member Cris Eaton-Welsh said she could see both sides of the issue and she would prefer the two parties sat “around a table together and figured it out.”

In the ethics complaint, Harris requests the city council “censure” the mayor, which is defined as an official reprimand. Eaton-Welsh described it differently.

“It means nothing. It’s a slap on the wrist. That’s all it is. A censure is useless. And that’s one of the reasons the ethics commission needs to be autonomous and be able to have some teeth (regarding) what they do,” she said.

Still, she said she believes in the ethics commission, which will now decide the matter.

“I completely have faith that our ethics commission will take a thorough look and make the decision that’s best for our community,” Welsh said.

Comments
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Just Wait
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August 14, 2014
What a circus Kennesaw has turned in to.
NoDrinking
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August 13, 2014
the government needs to get rid of all this drinking on sunday. im tired of all this drinking around here. drinking on sunday is against the bible---it should be stopped asap! if not, i may move next year if i can find a job.
Watcher...
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August 13, 2014
Perhaps Kennesaw Taxpayers will remember Matthews' antics as they VOTE against Commissar Lee's SPLOST!
Jerry in Kennesaw
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August 13, 2014
Good grief! The next election in Kennesaw cannot come soon enough. Over-reaching, city-wide smoke bans; parking lot smoke bans; accusations of misusing city funds; posting excerpts of correspondence meant for the council in social media; accusations of very socially inappropriate behavior; and attacking of free speech...what's next?
Oh Really??
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August 13, 2014
Again. Can't wait to vote him out of office.

The last time there was an ethics complaint against him, for using city equipment to do personal business, he got out of if by saying he wasn't a city employee.

But a year later when the credit card scandal broke, he said there don't need to be extra rules for mayor and council regarding credit card usage because it's covered in the employee handbook, and they are employees of the city.

Well, which is it Mr. Mathews?

Are you an employee of the city or not?????

Seems like his tune changes every time he gets in trouble.

Seems like the website mentioned took issue personally with Mathews, not the city. So why should the city pay to do Mathews dirty legal revenge work?????

Vote him out.

Vote him out.

And I wonder, why doesn't the city council do something about him?
Kennesaw Tax Payer
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August 13, 2014
Well, here we go again. The Matthews bulldozer wants to push down another citizen making their own comments on their own page, can't have that freedom of speaches thing can we. We either have him saying things from the meeting chair or using the city attorney to threaten people, either way sounds like if you disagree with him you pay a price. We have got to rid politics of bullies that if they don't like what you are saying, they use their office to hurt you. So sad that it comes down to this with him.

As for Welch, well she has become in this lady's eyes just as bad as Mattews, wanting her picture in the paper just as much. Every week, Welch then Mattews, then it's Mattews then Welch, you would think there isn't any body else in the City's government, just these two publicity vanity seeking narsistic self gratifying over indulged politicians. Isn't it time we have leadership and not these two. She says in the artical that she sees both sides, figures, one minute she is bashing Mattews the next she sees his side, what a hypocritical viewpoint. She needs to get running her business and leave the city government to real leadership that takes a stand and stays the course. I guess she "Welches" on her responsibility when it comes to real leadership. The next election can not come soon enough, is there any body in Kennesaw that has true leadership understanding of what the people of Kennesaw need and want. Can we ever be delivered from the glory hounds of these politicians, ones that are accused child molesters, ethic charged, publicity seekers for their business, have wives that are accused shoplifters, and get on Facebook ranting like an deranged manic because someone disagrees with her, and want support health polices for the city but smoke like a furnace themselves. Good Lord please deliver us from this bunch of self righteous autocrats who propose nothing more then the same we have had in the past poor excuses of leadership. I clean my house with a broom, it's time this lady gets a broom with a ballot box and gets this bunch voted out!
Greener Pastures
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August 15, 2014
This was the best rant ever about Kennesaw politics and I agree with every word. I thought I was the only one who felt this way.
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