Talk of such an eventuality has been rampant around the county courthouse this week.
Olens would succeed longtime Chamber head Bill Cooper, who himself served a long stint on the board of commissioners in the 1990s before taking the chamber job. Cooper retired at year-end 2009 after 10 years in the job. Don Beaver, the Chamber's former chief operating officer, is serving as president on an interim basis. Talk now has is that Chamber officials have been taking a slow-and-easy approach to finding a successor in order to see how Olens' electoral run turns out.
Incoming board Chairman Dr. Greg Simone is heading an eight-member search committee working with Waverly Partners to identify qualified local, regional and national candidates. Former Northeast Cobb Commissioner and current commission chairman candidate Tim Lee was originally a member of that committee but later resigned when it was pointed out that his service there might represent a conflict of interest.
Olens, an attorney, has talked of signing on with various well-known metro law firms if and when his political career ends. But his portfolio includes considerable expertise on growth/economic development issues, which would make him a natural to head the chamber. In addition to helming the county government during most of the 2000s, he also earned plaudits for his work as chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission and is highly regarded by most of the metro area's business and political leaders, thanks to his collegial, non-confrontational style and his results-oriented approach. And if he were head of the chamber, he could probably serve as a one-man economic development department.
Yet if Olens were to take the Chamber job hoping it would offer him a backdoor way of continuing to run the county government, "he has another thing coming," a high-placed courthouse source warned Around Town this week. Backstage tensions among Olens and several current and/or former district commissioners are an open secret at the courthouse.
OLENS FACES two GOP candidates in the race for his party's AG nomination, Max Wood of Macon and state Sen. Preston Smith of Rome, with Wood considered the stronger of the two. The runoff, should there be one, would take place Aug. 10. Two Democrats - state Sen. Rob Teilhet of Smyrna and Ken Hodges of Atlanta - also are seeking the job, but if Olens were to win his party's primary and runoff, many observers consider him to have the inside track in November as well due to the heavily Republican nature of the state's voting population. In other words, if Olens wins his party's nomination, the Chamber might not wait around until November to fill the job.
If money were Olens' only object, he would pass "Go" and proceed directly to the Chamber job, which is expected to pay between $150,000 and $200,000 per year, compared to the $114,633 paid the attorney general. Olens earned $124,882 per year as county chairman.
The Chamber was dealt a setback this week by the county commission, which chose to kill for now any further discussion of outsourcing the county government's economic development operation - and its budget - to the Chamber. The once-secret proposal was a pet project of Olens and Chamber brass during his final month as commission chairman, but many now think it is unlikely ever to come to pass.
FORMER COBB Chamber Chairman Kessel Stelling was promoted to acting CEO of Synovus Financial Corp. on Monday after incumbent chairman and CEO Richard Anthony took an emergency medical leave for treatment of a blood vessel disorder. Stelling had been named president and chief operating officer of the Columbus-based bank in February.
The $32 billion Synovus operates banks in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee with 6,800 employees and 350 offices.
Stelling, who has been commuting back and forth from Columbus, founded Riverside Bank in Cobb in 1996 and served as president and CEO when it merged with Bank of North Georgia in 2006. He served as chairman of the Cobb Chamber in 1998 and later chaired the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce as well.
LOCKHEED MARTIN mainstay Alyce Sarno, director of communications and community relations at the Marietta plant since 2002, has been promoted to vice president of corporate communications and will be leaving for LM’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md. Sarno, who holds a master’s degree in technical communications from Southern Polytechnic State University, earlier worked as director of marketing for Rolls-Royce Aerospace in Indianapolis.
TODAY’S MARIETTA FARMERS MARKET also will feature local historical authors Becky Paden, Joe McTyre and Jim Glover, who’ll be selling and signing copies of their books “175 Facts About Marietta,” “Marietta 1832-2000” and “Cobb County.” The Farmers Market runs from 9 a.m. through noon on North Park Square.
FORMER U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden (D-Marietta), now of McKenna, Long & Aldridge in Atlanta, was presented with one of the Georgia Bar Association’s most prestigious honors this month, the Tradition of Excellence Award.
Also on hand for the presentation, which took place during the Association’s annual meeting at Amelia Island, which was made by former U.S. Ambassador to Canada Gordon Giffin of Atlanta, were Darden’s wife, Lillian, and son George. Prior recipients from Cobb have included Judge Conley Ingram and attorney Hylton Dupree.
MISTAKEN IDENTITY: Turns out the MDJ got its Dan McCraes mixed up in our recent story about Councilman Philip Goldstein’s plans to erect a five-story building on Marietta Square. Goldstein’s lawyer is Dan McCrae, who the story identified as the son of the late Wesley and Lenny Lou McCrae, operators of the former McCrae’s Style Shop on the Square. However, Goldstein’s attorney was another Dan McCrae, who is also a lawyer and who lived in Marietta for many years. Small world!
AMNESTY FOR ALL? U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia were two of eight senators who sent a letter to President Obama this week complaining about his reported “Plan B” in case his bill to liberalize immigration rules fails to gain sufficient support in the Senate. That Plan B, according to reports, would see the Department of Homeland Security unilaterally grant a blanket amnesty to millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally. Tellingly, the White House declined to either confirm or deny the claim, according to Fox News.
Wrote the senators, such an amnesty would “further erode the American public’s confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books.”
A “MEET AND GREET” for several GOP candidates will be from noon to 2 p.m. today at Powder Springs City Park, according to spokeswoman Lianne Whang. On hand will be Ivy Oxendine, wife of gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine; 13th District congressional candidate Rupert Parchment, state Insurance Commissioner candidate Steve Northington of Cobb and state attorney general candidate Preston Smith.
THE COBB REPUBLICAN WOMEN’S CLUB will host the second of its three candidate forums at 7 p.m. Tuesday. On hand will be hopefuls for state AG, school superintendent, Labor commissioner, Ag commissioner, Insurance commissioner and Public Service Commissioner. The event will take place in the commission meeting room and be aired live on TV 23.
SMILING ON THE SIDELINES: State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) is enjoying a leisurely campaign season for a change. This marks the first time in his two-decade legislative career that he has not faced an opponent in the primary, general election or both.
THE MARIETTA KIWANIS CLUB, which with nearly 300 members is the largest in Georgia and seventh-largest in the country, is setting up a satellite committee at Lockheed Martin for employees who would like to enjoy the club’s service and social opportunities but are unable to join the club. The committee will meet twice a month for lunch at a local restaurant, with the first one planned for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the back dining area of the Marietta Pizza Company on the Square. The committee is open to all LM employees. Contact chairman Al Meyer at (770) 516-7928 or e-mail email@example.com.