Wednesday, January 8, 2014


A poor start for the new City Council?

Time to find a new job Mayor?
Time to find a new job Mayor?
I understand that the new Council is off to a rocky start with relations to the Mayor.  

Did he veto an appointment already put up by the Council?  

Why was he giving them a hard time as to the procedure would be for swearing in new members? 

Rather than trying to 'get along' with the new lineup on the Council it seems that he wants to bump heads with them right from the start.  

If he dosen't like things now that he is a 'lame duck' mayor then he might want to resign and go back to washing Metro ambulances for a living.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


The below appeared in the MDJ 1/1/14 and is a good summary of the past years election.  

The MDJ has a limited local readership and their online edition has gone to a pay site so the item is reproduced here FYI.


Residents oust three Kennesaw City Council members


Controversies over late councilman’s replacement, spending fuel elections 


December 31, 2013 09:57 PM 


KENNESAW — After months of political sniping and controversy over spending and other issues at the City Council, Kennesaw residents voted to oust all three councilmen who were up for re-election in November.

Some say the divide in the council was exacerbated when longtime councilman Bill Thrash died from bladder cancer in May. The council was split in deciding who should take Thrash’s spot on the five-member council.

Mayor Mark Mathews made the tie-breaking vote in electing Matt Riedemann to the council in June, which added angst to the city’s split council members and residents.

Council members Cris Welsh and Bruce Jenkins voted to install Thrash’s wife, Suzie, as his replacement on the council, while Jeff Duckett and Tim Killingsworth opted for Riedemann.

Mathews voted to break the tie in favor of Riedemann.

From there, the council became a two-headed governmental body, split on most of the important votes, with council members Riedemann, Killingsworth and Duckett consistently voting in a bloc to overrule motions made by council members Cris Welsh and Bruce Jenkins.

Welsh brought forward motions this fall to ban smoking in nearly all businesses and public outdoor spaces and another to prohibit elected officials from texting during council meetings. Both motions were overruled and dismissed by Mathews and his allies.

Museum, credit cards spark controversy

The council was repeatedly petitioned by residents concerned with the city’s finances. Critics believed the city’s financial position was burdened by taxpayer subsidies of its top two tourist attractions, the Southern Museum of Locomotive History and the Smith-Gilbert Gardens.

Both attractions have been running deficits for years, pulling money from the city’s general fund, which is fed by fees and taxes paid by Kennesaw residents.

In the 2013 budget, city officials transferred $557,643 to the gardens and the museum in order to balance the annual budget. That figure is expected to rise to $616,322 in the 2014 budget, which was adopted in September by a 3-2 vote of the council.

In late October, city officials came under fire again for the city’s lack of a credit card policy. Residents were upset to learn their elected officials had been using credit cards with very little rules and regulations, funded with their tax dollars.

The mayor and council members had spent together about $33,000 on dinners, including one at Vic’s on the River in Savannah from July 2012 that totaled $923.20, various flights and embroidered clothing between September 2012 and September 2013, according to credit card statements.

Duckett spent roughly $4,500, Jenkins, $6,500, Welsh and Killingsworth almost $3,000 each, and the mayor about $8,200 from December 2012 through Sept. 9, 2013.

The bills were paid for and unquestioned by the city. As news of this and other hot-potato issues broke, residents responded by signing up to run for council.

By the filing deadline, residents had seven candidates to choose from on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Clean sweep of council candidates


Debra Williams, a local businesswoman who owns her own public relations and marketing business and serves on the Kennesaw Planning and Zoning Board, stunned incumbent Matt Riedemann by garnering 60 percent of the votes in the Post 4 race. She outpolled Riedemann by nearly 400 votes, tallying 1,142 to her opponent’s 757.

Jim Sebastian, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company, squeaked out a win over incumbent Jeff Duckett by about 30 votes.

Former Kennesaw mayor Leonard Church made a political comeback, beating incumbent councilman Bruce Jenkins and Briggett Washington in a tight race, as no candidate won 50 percent of the vote.


Read moreThe Marietta Daily Journal - Residents oust three Kennesaw City Council members

Saturday, November 30, 2013


From the MDJ Sat 11/30/13

Old, new to collaborate at city retreat in Kennesaw

by Hannah Morgan
November 30, 2013 12:05 AM 

KENNESAW — Both the old and the new will meet today at Kennesaw’s City Hall to discuss plans for the future and to appoint new council members to serve as liaisons for the city’s committees and departments.

The annual retreat will include — for the first time in many of the elected officials’ memories — a collaboration between new council members and the three councilmen who were voted out of office in the November election.

A collaborative effort

Council members said they were open to the expanded guest list. The more voices around the table that were included in the planning of the next few years of the city, the better, they said.

“I think it might be good for the transition,” said Councilwoman Cris Welsh.

Welsh added that the outgoing councilmen would have the opportunity to pass along some of their projects and ideas to the new council members to take on, if they are interested.

“I think it’s good. The more folks you have together, you will get better ideas. I don’t have a problem with it one way or the other,” said future councilman Jim Sebastian.

Every January, the mayor appoints people to sit on committees throughout the city, and assigns council members to oversee city departments, said Mayor Mark Mathews. This year he wanted to let the departing council members have the opportunity to stay involved in the process, he said.

“Coming off of the council doesn’t mean you are leaving the city,” Mathews said.

More transparency

The old and the new will be expected to discuss their visions for the future of the city, Mathews said, in broad terms only. The council periodically sets goals for the future, he said, and the retreat is a chance to refresh these goals, and to discuss where elected officials see the city going.

Outgoing city councilman Bruce Jenkins said the group is likely to discuss items like the use of smartphones and tablets during city council meetings. Rather than banning these devices he said he may put forth a recommendation that includes some type of “electronics pledge.’ Jenkins is not sure what the conversation will look like, but hopes it will be discussed.

“I am going in with an open mind,” said newcomer Debra Williams.

Williams said no matter who was in the room, she would be certain to remain loyal to her beliefs and values as a new councilwoman, as the voters made clear that they wanted her voice to be present in city business during the election.

“The new people have their own visions. We bring in an entirely different background of experience and talent and that is what we are going to work with,” she said.

Scheduling nightmare

This Saturday is an uncommon day to hold the council retreat, usually they are held closer to the new year, Welsh said, which is when the council votes to approve the mayor’s appointments.

It was almost impossible to find a time and day that worked with all nine of the attendees, who each have different jobs and roles within the community.

“It is the only day that all of the old and new can meet,” Mathews said.

The group will convene in the morning, but will make sure to be finished in time for the Auburn vs. Alabama football game Saturday afternoon, Williams said.


Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Old new to collaborate at city retreat in Kennesaw 

So is this blog site 'Open' or 'Closed'?

So is this blog site 'Open' or 'Closed'?
Neither is entirely correct.  This blog was set up to cover the Kennesaw City Council election of Nov. 5, 2013 and various comments, photos press reports were put on this and other blog sites.

The election is now history with all 3 incumbent councilmen having been replaced by other candidates.

So the original purpose of the site is now gone but the information will remain as it has historical value and might be useful to people who have an interest in what goes on in Kennesaw.

The only additions that are likely would be to continue to report on the 'new' Amexp v. Riedemann court filing of 10/2/13.  Other than any possible updates on that topic I don't plan on other additions.

Bill Harris

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Most Recent Amexp Filing:

You might recall that on Oct 2nd Amexp filed again on Riedemann for $107,000.

It was NOT available to pull up at the Superior Court web site. The reason cited was that it contained 'personal information'. On 11/7/13 I wasted 90 minutes and went down to the Court and got a copy of what turned out to be 2 pages and had NO confidential personal information. 

 Can't help but wonder if someone did a favor for someone by making it difficult to get a copy? Well here it is FYI:

For larger image right click on document and open in new window
 
 
 

=====================================================================


Kennesaw residents: Election results are message to mayor

By Hannah Morgan MDJ, hmorgan@mdjonline.com

KENNESAW— Even though his name was not on the ballot Tuesday, residents say the City Council elections were all about Mayor Mark Mathews.

Some love him and voted accordingly, but a larger group of voters seemed more than ready to see new faces in the seats held by Mathews’ allies on the council.

And that was reflected in the final tally Tuesday, sending three council incumbents packing and replacing them with candidates who promised changes in the way City Hall operates.

The voting bloc on the council that previously dominated Kennesaw politics was broken up, and some residents say that should send a message to the mayor, who has two years left to serve on his term. “I believe this is a new day for Kennesaw. I believe the citizens were so angered by the mayor and this election we chose to vote all incumbents out of office, start the year fresh,” said Kennesaw resident Jeanette Lyons.

Lyons said she felt the city was ready for a change.

“All my friends believe this was a referendum on the mayor and the ‘good old boy network,’” that had a strong grip on the city council, Lyons said.

Kennesaw resident Bill Harris agreed, adding he was not surprised by the election results.

“ All my friends believe this was a referendum on the mayor and the ‘good old boy network.’

“This new majority on the council means that Mathews may still be mayor for two years, but the council is not held hostage to the whims of the mayor, (and) they can propose and enact things on their own,” he said. Mathews did not return e-mails Wednesday from the MDJ seeking his perspective on the election.

Will the city heal from its divisions?

At different election parties across the city Tuesday night, residents said they hoped the city would be able to come together and heal after the contentious campaigns that pitted the small town’s seven candidates against each other. “It is a new beginning for the city,” said Debra Williams, the business owner of her own public relations and marketing business who serves on the Kennesaw Planning Board.

Williams crushed incumbent Matt Riedemann at the polls by close to 400 votes, according to the county’s election results website.

“The people made a resounding statement as to what they expect out of their council members,” she said, regarding the ethics and financial decisions council members made.

Williams said residents told her while she was out knocking on doors that they felt the current council “was out of touch with the people of the city.” Riedemann was voted in as a councilman last spring by a tie-breaking vote from the mayor after the death of former councilman Bill Thrash. “This was their way to tell the mayor and the rest of the council, as well as the staff, that we know what has been going on, and Election Day was the only way that we could voice it enough to be heard,” Williams said, in reference to the council’s current credit card and travel expense policies. Riedemann could not be reached on Wednesday.

Former mayor back on council

Former Kennesaw mayor Leonard Church will replace incumbent councilman Bruce Jenkins in the post 3 seat, eking out a win by 48 votes.

Church said Wednesday he was excited to become involved in the city’s leadership again, especially to work “in harmony” with his new council members and with the mayor.

He suspected that his defeat of Jenkins might have been aided by recent reports of Jenkins’ use of the city credit card, an issue he thought drew residents to the polls, not just in his race but in all three races.

Church said he hopes the new council will look at the credit card policy with the mayor. Instead of considering how the council’s new faces would work together, Church was adamant about moving the city forward.

Jenkins could not be reached for comment Wednesday but said on election night that he would support the new council and stay active in the community.

Duckett’s successor promises change

Councilman Jeff Duckett was voted out of office by just 30 votes, ushering in Jim Sebastian, the chairman of the Kennesaw Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company.

The morning after the election, Sebastian said he was “overwhelmed, to say the least” at the amount of responsibility he felt had just been shifted onto his shoulders.

He vowed to begin to take care of the city’s issues, including establishing credit-card and travel expense policies, and to discuss implementing a policy on texting during council meetings.

“I think it is a turning point to allow us to try to get a better grip on things, and be more transparent,” he said, of the new members voted onto the council, hoping that they would work together to “be more transparent” in his coming term.

He added he had heard similar reactions from residents that Williams had.

“I think citizens were tired of things being the ‘good old boy network,’ they were just up for a change (and) want to see things done right,” he said.

Duckett could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jenkins out, Church in: Kennesaw is only Cobb city that doesn’t do runoffs

The election article that ran on Wednesday incorrectly reported councilman Bruce Jenkins would be in a runoff election Dec. 3 against challenger Leonard Church, a former mayor of the city.


Kennesaw does not hold runoff elections for candidates, said City Clerk Debra Taylor, as elections are determined “by plurality, not by majority.”

Church received 40 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s election, Jenkins received 37 percent, and Briggett Washington received 23 percent.

Church will take office in January, replacing Jenkins on the council.
Kennesaw is the only city in Cobb County that determines its elections on plurality, not by majority, said Janine Eveler, the director of the Cobb County Board of Elections.

There is no state law on how cities call the votes at the city office level, she said, as Kennesaw’s charter dictates the plurality distinction.

— by Hannah Morgan


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Misc Info:
  Despite the article's claim of a 'runoff' there is no provision in Kennesaw for one if candidates do not get over 50%, so Church is the winner in Post 3.


Voters oust two Kennesaw City Council incumbents, shattering its voting bloc 


Bruce Jenkins, Leonard Church in runoff Dec. 3

By Hannah Morgan, MDJ Reporter  hmorgan@mdjonline.com  Nov 6, 2013

KENNESAW — Two new members will join Kennesaw’s City Council as they knocked off incumbents, and a third race will go to a runoff, shattering a tight voting bloc that has controlled many of the city’s policies for months. 


Williams in a landslide 


Debra Williams, a local businesswoman who owns her own public relations and marketing business and serves on the Kennesaw Planning and Zoning Board, stunned incumbent Matt Riedemann by garnering 60 percent of the votes in the Post 4 race. She outpolled Riedemann by nearly 400 votes, tallying 1,142 to her opponent’s 757, according to unofficial results posted on the Cobb Board of Elections website. 


Duckett goes down, barely 


Jim Sebastian, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company, squeaked out a win over incumbent Jeff Duckett by about 30 votes, according to county election results.


“You did it, Jim, you did it!” Williams shouted across the crowded restaurant, 41 Cork and Tap, off Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw Station Shopping Center, pointing to Sebastian, as the election results came in Tuesday night. 


Jenkins in runoff with former mayor 


Former Kennesaw mayor Leonard Church and incumbent councilman Bruce Jenkins will be in a runoff election Dec. 3, as neither candidate garnered 50 percent of the vote, plus one vote, according to Cobb County election regulations.


Briggett Washington also ran for Jenkins’s seat but tallied only 23 percent of the vote, not enough to make the runoff election next month.


With Duckett and Riedemann going down in defeat, Mayor Mark Mathews will finish out the rest of his term without the voting bloc he has enjoyed. 


Posting in pink 


Councilwoman Cris Welsh, who was not up for re-election, posted the numbers as they came in from the county on a neon pink sheet, taped against the glass door at 41 Cork and Tap.


Peg Rhoad was excited about the potential for the new faces on the council, and said she hoped they could help to “Get the mayor out of town … and start getting the city where it needs to be,” both financially and ethically, said the owner of Dog Grooming by Peg on Main Street in downtown Kennesaw.


The Hickory Wine Bluegrass Band, with players from Tennessee and Woodstock, played as more than 60 supporters of Jenkins, Williams and Sebastian waited for the numbers to come in.


When Williams heard of her victory, she began to cry, “I made a promise to the people that I fully intend to keep,” she said.


Her best friend for more than 20 years, Lisa Lott, had driven in from Montgomery, Ala., to surprise Williams earlier that afternoon in the parking lot. She hugged Williams when the numbers began to come in.


Jenkins stood in the parking lot and said while he was disappointed with the results, he vowed to continue to support the city and all of the council members, whether or not he wins the upcoming runoff election. 


“We need new blood, not old blood. Leadership is about everyone having a chance to serve. We need fresh faces, fresh ideas,” on the council, said 50-year-Kennesaw resident Mike Serkedakis, when he heard about Church’s slim plurality. 


Across town, at Mazzy’s Sports bar and Grill off Cherokee Street, more than 50 people came out to support Riedemann, and to watch election results come in. 


Riedemann said he felt “wonderful” and happy that so many people had been involved in voting Tuesday. Recent reports of his personal financial difficulties had both hurt and helped his campaign, he said. While the reports had certainly lost him a few voters, Riedemann said that he received many emails, text messages and calls from residents who felt that he was “a real person” that they could relate to. 


Duckett, who was narrowly beaten by Sebastian, could not be reached Tuesday night. 


In the current council, Mathews has received strong support from council members Tim Killingsworth and Duckett, while Jenkins and Welsh have previously voted against the mayor on important issues for the city, including the city’s budget. 


Riedemann joined the council in July, after the death of former councilman Bill Thrash, and has not been on the council long enough to establish a voting pattern. 


Riedemann was appointed to the council, however, by a tie-breaking vote from the mayor last June, after Thrash’s death. A picture of Thrash sat nearby on the bar Tuesday night at 41 Cork and Tap, facing out at the crowd as the final numbers came in. Residents were more involved in this year’s election than ever before, they said, as news reports revealed the city’s struggling financial situation, and complaints about a lax credit card spending policy drew them to the polls. Williams, Sebastian and either Jenkins or Church will take office at the start of January. Council members Welsh and Killingsworth, along with the mayor, were not up for re-election this year. 


Staff/Jeff Stanton Above: Kennesaw City Council candidate Jim Sebastian, right, receives a victory smooch from his wife, Karen, at the 41 Cap and Cork. Sebastian narrowly defeated incumbent Jeff Duckett. Below: Incumbent Kennesaw City Council member Bruce Jenkins is embraced by Suzie Thrash, the wife of former council member Bill Thrash, who died from cancer in May. Thrash was supporting Jenkins, who will now face former mayor Leonard Church in a runoff.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mayor Mathews is now a 'lame duck'

With an unusually high turnout for a Kennesaw Council election, just over 1,900 voters turned out to cast their votes for the 3 Kennesaw Council positions.
   
3 incumbents have been swept out of office.  

The financial problems with the mis-use of City credit cards was a late developing major facor, also voters expressed their annoyance with the Mayor over his actions in putting a financial burnout on the Council to replace a deceased Councilman.

This was much more than an election, it was a referendum on Mathew's stewardship and almost surely means that in 2 years both Mathews and his remaining Councilman Mr Killingsworth will be gone from Kennesaw politics.

The 3/2 Mathews majority on the Council is history, he now has to deal with 4 Council members who are 'anti' Mathews and in a mood for some major reforms both in financial matters and in any new Council business.


Post 3 
L. Church     768  40%
B. Jenkins    720  37%
Washington 434  23%
----------------------------
Post 4
D. Williams 1,142  60%
Riedemann  757   40%
----------------------------
Post 5
Sebastian  964 51%
Duckett      934 49%


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


What is next for this blog site?

This blog will remain 'open' even though the election is over today.

Information on the 'winners' will be posted, although you will of course have already heard about it from the media.

Additional information will be posted regarding the latest American Express suit against Riedemann.  I, and others, were entirely disappointed that this latest matter was not reported by the MDJ.  

As mentioned below it seems that the Mathews/Riedemann group managed to brow beat the MDJ by threats of a suit if the paper continued what was in their opinion, 'unfavorable' publicity, for the Mayor and Councilman.  Shame on the MDJ for caving in to bullies.  Almost makes me reconsider my having not reported on or published photos of that 'swingers group' in Legacy Park.

So the civil suit will continue to be reported here but it is not an item of great importance, just something to follow up on when I have the time.

If you wonder why details have not been posted about what was in the original complaint, it is because that document is not carried 'online' by the County due to their opinion being that it has senstive information.  

5 other documents about the case are available and before long I will obtain a copy of the 'original complaint' from the Courthouse and put that online FYI.




 

 

Posted by Picasa


Sunday, November 03, 2013

  
Kennesaw City Council’s 3-2 voting bloc may be in jeopardy as Tuesday nears



by Hannah Morgan, MDJ,  November 02, 2013


KENNESAW — This year’s election has ripped the city of Kennesaw apart, candidates say, over issues of elected officials’ spending habits with the city credit card, travel expenditures and other city expenses.



Three seats on the City Council are up for election, and the city’s historic 3-2 voting bloc might be shattered if familiar faces get replaced by new ones.

With the current council, Mayor Mark Mathews has received unwavering support from council members Tim Killingsworth and Jeff Duckett, while council members Bruce Jenkins and Cris Welsh have tended to vote against the mayor on important issues.

Councilman Matthew Riedemann has been on the council only four months, not long enough to establish a voting pattern one way or the other.

But Riedemann’s appointment to the council was made possible by a tie-breaking vote from the mayor in late June, when a temporary replacement was needed following the death of Councilman Bill Thrash from cancer.

The mayor’s voting bloc is on the line in Tuesday’s election. Duckett and Riedemann are facing challenges from upstart candidates who say they want to see change.

James Sebastian, chair of the Kennesaw Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company specializing in product warrantees, is pitted against Duckett.

Debra Williams, who owns her own public relations and marketing business and serves on the Kennesaw Planning and Zoning Board, is challenging Riedemann. If even one of those incumbents loses, it will shake up the council, depending on what happens in the third race, in which incumbent Jenkins faces opposition from Briggett Washington, CEO of the nonprofit, Marietta-based Cobb Alzheimer’s Foundation, and former Mayor Leonard Church.

Welsh said previously ignored efforts to approve a strict credit card and travel expense policy for elected officials, a ban on texting during meetings and a discussion on how to fix the city’s debt-ridden Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History might make it past mere discussion at council meetings.

Residents of the city have weighed in on the election’s biggest issues this year more than ever before, candidates say. And that community passion about local government is something they hope to maintain, they say, regardless of who is elected.

“This election has absolutely torn this city apart,” said Welsh, who has brought forward controversial issues such as a city-wide smoking ban and a ban on texting during meetings, only to see them stalled until after the election.

A recent MDJ report on Riedemann’s personal bankruptcy and other financial troubles, along with a second report on how each elected official has used the city credit card, caused the discussion to shift from city issues to personal issues, Welsh said.

Welsh, who is not up for re-election, said she hopes the election will enable the council to “have a disagreement with each other and walk away and still be friends.” She added “the tone that we have right now doesn’t really allow for that kind of conversation.”
Debra Williams, who is challenging Riedemann, agrees.

She hopes real discussions will be conducted in council meetings dealing with important financial issues. She wants to see a strict credit card policy put in place and enforced, and she also wants the council to take up the issue of why the city offers pension plans to part-time elected officials.

Jenkins, who is being challenged by Washington and Church, said the election has brought out many residents, albeit divided.

Regardless of who is elected, Jenkins hopes the council will come up with “a very tight understanding” of what the city’s financials are regarding credit card policies and the museum funds.

James Sebastian, who is running for Duckett’s seat on the council, has previously stated that he is in support of stricter spending policies for elected officials, as well as of having council members take a close reading of the city’s budget, especially the funds currently going to support the city’s museum.

Council members Riedemann, Duckett and Killingsworth did not return phone calls or emails for this article.

When Jenkins stopped by an early voting site Friday afternoon, he said 200 residents had already been out to vote, much higher than he had anticipated.

Voting will take place across the city on Tuesday.

==============================================

Newly filed American Express Case against Riedemann:
So What Happened Here MDJ?

Posted by LegalService, Kennesaw PATCH , November 03, 2013 at 07:13 PM

It isn't something that can be 'verified', but I'll pass it on in the form of something that I heard about.

You know, of course, that last year Mr Riedemann got some judgements against him in Cobb County Superior Court.  One was for $52,000 for American Express.

This year, Oct 2nd to be exact, American Express filed yet again against Mr. Riedemann, this time for $107,000.  I reported it here, it is public knowledge and not a 'secret'.

So why has the MDJ not reported on this?  Here is what I heard:  "Riedemann has threatened to sue the MDJ if they report it"  He would claim their coverage about his various financial screwups is a form of harassment.

You see the MDJ has actually been reporting about this guy.  The nerve of them!  How dare they point out all these court cases where he goes bankrupt, loses a home in foreclosure and gets sued repeatedly!

So it seems that the MDJ decided NOT to further report on Mr. Riedemann's misadventures. 


So I guess if you make enough noise, scream and shout then make empty threats you can in fact scare off reporters.  I knew it worked for Bears and wolves, just didn't know it worked with newspapers.

Fortunately I am working on it and even if not in time for the election, I will publish the details on this blog site. 

You can see some of the paperwork already, just not the actual 'complaint' but it will be on hand soon.


________________________________________________________________________________

More Problems for Mathew's candidate Mr. Riedemann

Regular readers of these blogs and the various MDJ articles are already familiar with the checkered financial history of Mr. Riedemann. 

Last year 2 major judgements were entered against him. One was in favor of American Express for $52,236. 

 This however, did not end this ongoing series of court cases.


Now comes American Express again with an allegation filed Oct 2nd against Mr. Riedemann for $107,000

The MDJ is shortly expected to carry full details on this civil action and of course it will be added to this blog site for your information as the MDJ circulation is only approx. 16,000 and many Kennesaw voters rely on the blog to read this information.

For larger image:  right click and open in new window


 
 
 

===============================================================


From the MDJ of Oct. 31, 2013


EDITORIAL 

CREDIT CARD NON-POLICY

Kennesaw taxpayers deserve better protection

The city of Kennesaw has no formal policy regarding the use of city-issued credit cards by mayor and council. But in the wake of a frontpage MDJ story Sunday, “Kennesaw Mayor: City has no policy on credit card use,” it’s abundantly clear that such a policy is needed.

That story showed that Mayor Mark Mathews and various council members have been, to quote the story, “wining, dining, dressing and traveling at the expense of the city’s taxpayers” for at least the past two years.

The closest the city has to such a policy is a sentence in the city charter that states that the mayor and council members, after presenting itemized vouchers, shall be reimbursed for their “actual and necessary expenses” in the performance of their duties.

Aside from that, it’s up to the individual officials to determine what is “reasonable” to use their cards on, said several council members.

They clearly have been using a liberal definition of what’s “reasonable,” if the $23,000 they’ve charged so far this year for meals, hotels and the like is any indication.

So what types of spending have city taxpayers been reimbursing as of late? How about: 

$8,000 that the mayor spent on restaurant tabs, iPad accessories, flights to conventions and other events between December 2012 and September of this year. That spending by the mayor included $1,835 for lapel pins he handed out to players on the Kennesaw Mountain and North Cobb High School football teams to commemorate the first time they played in Kennesaw State University’s stadium. 

$6,500 spent by Councilman Bruce Jenkins since January, the most of the five council members. Indeed, some of Jenkins’ spending would be laughable were it not public money he was wasting on items like $25 for frozen yogurt during a trip to Washington, D.C., and $30 for a guidebook he bought there to the National Cathedral. His excuse? He told the Journal he hopes to teach Kennesaw Youth Council members about the cathedral, if he ever brings them to Washington. As a reader commenting as “Voter in Kennesaw” aptly put it on the MDJOnline.com website, “I think Jenkins under estimates our youth of today. If he wanted them to learn about the National Cathedral just let them go online to find all the info they needed, and it is free. Jenkins spent $30 of taxpayers’ money for something that is free online.”

Almost as bad as the casual approach about spending was the mayor’s disinterest in documenting it.

“It would be a waste of time to document reimbursements,” Mathews said, adding that the failure to do so might upset “the idiots that like to look at the nickels and dimes stuff.”

The “idiots” like reporters and editors and taxpayers.

But the city’s casual attitude about council spending predates Mathews. Former Mayor Leonard Church (who’s now running against Jenkins), told the MDJ a credit card policy isn’t necessary.

“We are all grown-ups here,” he said. “It is not the card’s fault, it is the one using it.”

True enough. But this is an era when government transparency and accountability are paramount and in which examples are too numerous to list of elected officials guilty of financial shenanigans. Kennesaw’s blanket policy of issuing credit cards to all of its elected officials is one copied by few if any other jurisdictions that we know of. And it’s doubly hard to justify in the absence of rigorous guidelines for their use.

Kennesaw’s “trust us” approach does almost nothing to protect taxpayers from potentially abusive credit-card use by the mayor and council. That city’s taxpayers deserve better.


COBB WEB 


Readers sound off on credit-card use in Kennesaw


EDITOR’S NOTE:  Below is a selection of the responses from readers of MDJOnline.com in reaction to recent MDJ stories. 

Kennesaw mayor:  City has no policy on credit-card use Biz Sense — Common practice for employees of major corporations is to present a receipt for every single expense listed. Why is the mayor of a small town not required to do the same thing? And why are so many “meetings” taking place at a restaurant or the “meetings” followed by a meal at a restaurant? If my employer did that we would all weigh 400 lbs. and the company would go broke. 

Mark Mathews — My relationship with the media has always been open and honest. I have responded to questions without strict filters because I trusted that my answers would be reported accurately and in the context of the conversation. It is a sad statement on journalism that comments I made are twisted and manipulated to satisfy some unknown hidden agenda. If the press is looking for corruption in Kennesaw, they won’t find it. 

Really?? — Mark, There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting the city, attending training classes and the like. Nobody is contesting that. The issue is there are no limits on credit-card use and you seem perfectly OK with that. How did the media twist your words? Did you not call the citizens “idiots”? Where those not your words?

The city should make reservations at moderate priced hotels for out-of-town trips. If you want to upgrade to a 5-star resort, that should come out of your own pocket. If you want to take your family with you, that should come out of your own pocket. If you want to eat at the best restaurant in town, that comes out of your own pocket. You work for us, not the other way around. Mayor, nip this in the bud. Get it taken care of. You are living a lifestyle off taxpayers’ money that you could not otherwise afford. 

And the winner is — The biggest spender of all time is on the ballot ... former Mayor Leonard Church! In addition to extravagant dinners for families, lavish retreats, etc., let’s not forget the $25,000 “redo” election when he lost to Mathews and the $2 million racial discrimination lawsuit payout that happened under his eight-year watch. No nickels and dimes there. 

Old Doc — Mr. DA: Please call a special grand jury for this. Georgia law has been clearly violated here and we need you now! 

Mr. Owens — King Mark Mathews and his Puppets (Jeff Duckett & Tim Killingsworth) have got to go. These expenses are nothing compared to the money he has made by handing out contracts for city projects. His current $80,000-ayear job with Metro Ambulance as “government relations” representative is a glaring example of his profiting from his position at the city. 

Kennesaw One — If you take the hatchet out of your hand you will be able to write your “editorials” much more quickly. 

Really?? — So this article is a “hatchet job”? Are the numbers not accurate? Are the quotes not accurate? 

Starts At The Top — It starts at the top. Mark Mathews is the rotten apple at the top of city government. And what does it say about Metro Ambulance, who actually keep this guy on payroll? He’s ruining their public relations image. How long are they going to put up with negative articles about their “Government Relations Manager”? 

Tired of it — I cannot believe the arrogant attitude of Mark Mathews. Mr. Mayor, that is NOT your money that you are spending. 

Kennesaw Skater —What would the city employees be told if they attempted to use the cards in this manner? Many of the employees are outstanding advocates for the city. Are they allowed this latitude? 

The Top — What is their travel budget? It sounds like from this article that they have spent 400 percent more than Acworth’s whole budget. How much more is to come?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------