Reading their remarks, I had the impression they gave the same weight to this clandestine effort to subvert open government in Cobb as they did to arranging a surprise birthday party. The column should have been titled “Confessions of the Clueless” or at least “The Ends Justifies the Means.”
Perhaps the reason Mathis-Lee don’t want to “glance in the rearview mirror,” is to avert seeing the bodies of representative government and reputations they drove over to grab the Braves. Let me give these victims faces and personalize the damage Mathis-Lee have done to this county by their thoughtlessness.
The first are the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, which named Lee their Man of the Year, and this newspaper, whose publisher presented Lee with the award. Think of the untenable situation this has placed both institutions in by recognizing a man who believes government works best when it does so in secret.
Lee’s rationale and explanation for hiring Dan McRae off the books was akin to Richard Nixon’s observation that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Was it a Freudian slip when Lee compared his seeking advice from McRae “to calling your uncle who happens to be a master plumber” about a spigot? Lest we forget, every one of Nixon’s “plumbers” went to jail.
The second casualty was the Cobb Board of Commissioners. Admiral Arleigh Burke, one of the most famous naval commanders in World War II, once wrote that the “integrity of a society or a group is approximately equal to the lowest common denominator of its people. When the standards are lowered for an individual, the standards of the group or society to which the individual belongs are lowered.”
Lee, as a member of the board, has brought the adage “guilt by association” into play and given affirmation to the negative stereotypes about politicians. By his actions, he has sullied the reputation of every member of the board. They must now consider the consequences of failing to respond to the chairman’s brazen challenge — his use of outside consultants to perform county work without the advice and consent of the board.
The final sacrifice in this whole sordid matter is the public. If there is any better reason why more people don’t vote, it’s the actions of the chairman. I originally thought the reason he wanted a quick decision from the board to accept the Braves deal was that he saw the voters as being inconvenient. Now, it turns out he just simply doesn’t trust his commissioners — or at least some them — and by extension us, the voters. If his action stands without consequences, the people have the right to ask why bother voting or becoming involved in government.
The Mathis/Lee column misses the point that this controversy is not about what we get for the Braves, but instead how we got them. Lee’s assertion that the true nature of the secret negotiations is really a matter of “semantics” is laughable.
The air needs to be cleared on this controversy and the Board of Commissioners need to stop standing by legalisms, go into executive session and decide if there is enough abuse to merit sanctions — if not a request for a special grand jury. They should be guided by the words in Mark 8:36: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
By his co-writing last week’s commentary, the chairman has shown that he has already sold his soul.
Retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce of east Cobb ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for Cobb Commission chairman.