Newly-elected Cobb Chair Lisa Cupid and west Cobb Commissioner Keli Gambrill clashed Monday morning over a proposal that would use leftover federal pandemic aid to assist county renters struggling due to the pandemic.  

It was the first meeting of the Board of Commissioners since the victors of November's election assumed office. That election saw Democrats take a majority of seats on the board for the first time since the 1980s. It is also the first time all of its members are women and a majority are people of color. 

The board meets Tuesday morning for its first publicly broadcast meeting, where members will vote on a number of proposals, including one Cupid had unsuccessfully put forward last September.  

Her resurrected proposal would allocate more than $2 million in federal aid to county residents who have fallen behind on their rent during the pandemic using money the county received through the CARES Act, the massive stimulus Congress passed in March of 2020. It relies on three local nonprofits to administer the aid: the Sweetwater Foundation, the Center for Family Resources and MUST Ministries.

In September, commissioners Gambrill, JoAnn Birrell and now retired Bob Ott rejected the proposal. Ott said he could not support the measure because it did not require that applicants pay a portion of their overdue rent. Nor did it provide a mechanism to prevent applicants from getting more money than they need by seeking help from more than one of the nonprofits, he said — something the nonprofits' representatives adamantly denied. 

After it was rejected, Ott introduced a similar proposal drafted by Gambrill that instead used a single nonprofit, Baltimore-based HomeFree USA, to administer the aid. Cupid was livid at the time, accusing Gambrill of being "underhanded." 

On Monday, Gambrill asked why the board would give the three nonprofits money, saying they hadn't given a formal presentation like other CARES Act recipients.

She also said Cupid hadn't given her enough time to consider the proposal, which she learned would come up at Tuesday's meeting only after seeing the agenda last week. 

Cupid said her proposal had been discussed at length when it was first proposed last year, and that Gambrill had ample time to raise questions then. 

"These issues are becoming an issue today, and I find that very difficult to accept given the fact that you provided a program on the same day of a BOC meeting that you didn't talk to (me about), that you didn't have a conversation about," Cupid said. "It was fleshed out at that meeting." 

"That's a false statement," Gambrill replied. 

Monday's meeting was held in a small room on the third floor of the county government headquarters off Marietta Square, where commissioners gather before their bimonthly meetings to review those meetings' agendas. Cupid took a seat at the center of the table, flanked by newly elected commissioners Jerica Richardson and Monique Sheffield, Gambrill, and county department heads. North Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell attended via Zoom. Agenda work sessions are public, but not broadcast online or on television like the bimonthly meetings at which votes are taken. 

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(14) comments

Mike Nelson

This is the beginning of the New Democratic BOC meetings. It will get so much worse.

Allie Bradford

So she wants to help "renters" only and not homeowners. She knows that renters are the ones who elected her; the ones who pay no property taxes.

Rich the Equalizer Pellegrino

Correction: Madame Chairwoman, along with other commissioners, voted and provided funds to help landlords, homeowners, and business owners. So please check and get your facts straight...the chump era of misinformation is thankfully over. (Oh, and of course renters pay property taxes; it is figured into their rent...another myth you are promoting.)

Allie Bradford

Oh, please. Saying renters pay property tax that's built in is nothing like what homeowners pay. Nothing. It's a fact that apartment complexes vote heavily Democrat. Simply undeniable. And your dig at "misinformation" shows your bias too, pal.

Allie Bradford

Interesting. So as a homeowner, where's my money that she "voted to provide funds" for?

Ann DG

There is not one state or city run by Democrats that isn’t flat broke. Cupid will run Marietta into debt to support her agenda. Taxes will go up and the County will go broke. Sad. People will start to leave our county.

Mike Nelson

People are already leaving Cobb County but people voted them in and this is just the beginning of the end for the finically sound Cobb county.

Susan Heuke

I hope you are wrong about that and that it is not an ongoing headache for the fiscialy conservatives.

Rich the Equalizer Pellegrino

Really....first of all the USA under both parties including so-called conservatives is and has been broke and deficit ridden, while many cities, counties and states, under the leadership of both parties, are not and have balanced please get your facts straight as the chump era of misinformation is thankfully over.

David Glass

Stop the partisan junk. Ott supported the same relief but wanted to use a Baltimore based non-profit. These are Federal tax dollars that we won't get back. I think local non-profits can handle the job. Homeowners have equity. If I can't pay my mortgage, I can apply for the federal forbearance program.

Rich the Equalizer Pellegrino

By the way, many of our essential front line workers, including law enforcement, heakthcare, teachers, grocery store workers, etc. are renters due to the lack of affordable housing in Cobb--a situation which the new Commission will be addressing and attempting to remedy, with this writer's support.

Mike Nelson

So glad we have you Rich to set us correct on the facts. Like CNN.

Allie Bradford

Did you know you're a "chump" voter? Let the unity begin.

Allie Bradford

What do you consider "affordable housing" exactly? Why do you think front-line workers can't do what the rest of us do and save money for down payments on homes? They come in many shapes, sizes and costs.

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