My apologies to the citizens of Snellville for being a part of the latest negative publicity for our city. However, I would not be fulfilling my responsibility as a Council member if I ignored, or remained silent about what I consider improper, abusive and possibly illegal expenditures of taxpayer money. In my opinion, the majority of statements made (at the May 13th City Council meeting) by Kelly Kautz, pertaining to the payment and non-payment of legal fees are false, and serve no other purpose than to deflect attention from her actions. As I pointed out in my Council comments, the attorneys for Cruser & Mitchell were apparently fully aware that they were representing Kautz individually, as opposed to the City, in the First Amendment violation lawsuit brought by Marilyn Swinney. Bills for services related to that lawsuit were addressed solely to Kelly Kautz, NOT the City of Snellville. On the other hand, bills for work actually related to the city, were listed on separate invoices and were addressed to the City of Snellville.
Further, without consulting with or gaining the approval of the Council, Kautz personally retained Cruser & Mitchell, long before her attempt to fire Mr. Powell. Now, she is apparently trying to justify her actions by claiming they were assistant city attorneys. That is clearly not the case, as evidenced by their bills being addressed to her, not the City. And to claim that they were hired as assistants is to admit a clear, and intentional violation of the City charter, which states, “The mayor shall appoint a city attorney, together with such assistant city attorneys as may be authorized”. (Emphasis added) In this case, the appointment of Cruser & Mitchell was clearly not authorized by the Council, and it is difficult to see any way in which the firm’s attorneys, Nola Jackson and Karen Woodward, could have been hired for the purpose of assisting City Attorney Powell. (Ironically, neither the law firm itself nor the individual attorneys list “Municipal Law” as an area of practice.)
Considering that attorneys to represent the City’s interests were provided by the City’s insurance company, and that City Attorney Powell was also involved in the case, the City had absolutely no need for additional attorneys. Consequently, the only reasonable explanation for the hiring of Cruser & Mitchell was for the defense of an individual, in this case Kautz, who was separately charged with unilaterally violating a citizen’s First Amendment rights. Kautz is certainly entitled to an attorney to represent her, but NOT at taxpayer expense.
In response to these comments and a few I’ve made in the past, I’m sure some people will label me as “mean-spirited”. From my perspective, the citizens of Snellville put their faith and trust in the officials they elect to office, and I will not stand idly by when I see that trust violated. If that is taken as an indication that I’m “mean spirited”, so be it.