The committee was derailed after an incident that occurred following its Sept. 22 meeting.
After that meeting, Coleman and Lewis engaged in a dispute over a map Lewis had proposed that created a federally required majority-black ward on the southern edge of town, away from both Coleman’s north-central Ward 5 and his home, which possibly could cost Coleman his seat on the Council when his current term expires next year.
While walking to the parking lot from City Hall after that night’s meeting, Coleman allegedly cursed at Lewis and placed his hands on her, leaving a bruise on her shoulder, which she later photographed and handed over to investigators.
After an investigation, the GBI requested that charges be brought against Coleman and he was arrested on Dec. 2 on simple battery and assault charges and booked in the county jail.
Last month, Coleman agreed to a plea bargain, entering a plea of guilty to a charge of assaulting Lewis. Cobb State Judge Irma Glover handed him a sentence of 12 months’ probation, 80 hours of community service, a required anger and violence evaluation and a $600 fine, in addition to court costs.
The episode apparently has since created an air of unease at council meetings.
“Notice how the Marietta police officer who attends the council meetings never leaves until Annette is in her car,” one council member recently told Around Town.
Asked about this post-meeting police presence, Mayor Steve Tumlin said he has made it a point to have somebody accompany Lewis to her car after meetings, and that she is not left alone with Coleman. This special attention is just as much to protect Coleman, who is nervous being alone with Lewis, Tumlin said.
And there was someone present with Coleman and Lewis during the night of the incident, according to the GBI report: Councilman Philip Goldstein. According to the report, Goldstein asked Lewis not to call the Marietta Police after the incident occurred.
For sure, how Coleman and Lewis will react during Tuesday’s redistricting meeting will be closely watched.
“Some of the complaints and comments about what we are and what we aren’t don’t seem to reflect what I know Cobb County is,” Lee told the audience during a forum sponsored by the Cobb County Civic Coalition on Tuesday. “Cobb County has reduced the size of government since I took office. We have fewer number of employees, and we have a smaller budget than was actually spent in 2010. We have the smallest operating capital budget in metro Atlanta. We have the lowest property taxes in metro Atlanta. We have the lowest sales tax in metro Atlanta. We have very competitive water rates and an AAA rating for Cobb County which reaffirms our policies and practices for our budgeting are sound and ones that poises us to be successful moving forward. We’ve added over 10,000 jobs last year, a third of all jobs in metro Atlanta and we’ve added 490 this year.”
Lee then lowered the ax on one opponent, former county chairman Bill Byrne.
“It’s the same county that one of my competitors introduced a $35 million waste of tax payer money called Bedminster, and then covered it up with Enron-type financing only to go to Polk County and claim that the county he built is not the one he wants to bring to the Polk,” Lee said.
Yet Byrne, who didn’t get a chance to answer that attack, made it clear over the course of the forum that he was talking about Cobb.
“What is wrong with the county is not the staff, but our decision-makers,” Byrne said. “When in the middle of a recession that actually began in 2007 and for my particular purposes is going to continue for several more years until the real estate industry and the banking industry come together and come back, at the national level the Republicans have not offered tax increases to balance the Obama budget. At the state level our governor and General Assembly dominated by Republicans have not proposed to raise taxes to balance their budget.
“The Cobb County School Board is dealing with a $62 million shortfall. They’re not proposing to raise taxes in the middle of a recession. The first thing a majority of the Board of Commissioners did in the middle of a recession with 16 percent unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures at an all time record — raise taxes. Those are not Republican principles. That defines the problem with the majority of this board and we need to change it.”
“When it became clear to me that the BOC was not going to move forward on saving jobs for American workers on taxpayer funded projects by taking the next logical step with the IMAGE certification, I voted for Bill Byrne for chairman by absentee ballot and proudly support him,” King said. “Bill, an old friend, was the only candidate to reach out to me and promise, without condition, to require all public contractors and subcontractors to become IMAGE certified. I believe him when he says that he understands that illegal immigration is not a separate issue from jobs, taxes, health care and education.
“Frankly, I haven’t heard anything from the other challengers. The current chairman, who I like very much, has been dealing with the IMAGE certification issue for at least 18 months and pronounced it a great move for Cobb when he signed the IMAGE agreement. The concept that the same requirement for public contractors needs more study time strikes me as absurd and transparent. State legislation, much of which I have worked on myself over the years is written, vetted and signed into law in a three month window.”
Byrne also picked up an endorsement this week from the Austell-based Cobb Taxpayers Association, a local grass-roots organization of approximately 200 members. Cobb Taxpayers Association president Lance Lamberton observed of Lee: “I have yet to see a tax-and-spend proposal for Cobb that he did not and does not enthusiastically support.”
Georgia Utility Contractors Association, Inc. is a nonprofit state trade association located in metro Atlanta and represents more than 300 utility contractors and affiliated firms statewide.
Sabiston now resides in Smithfield, N.C., where her husband, Paul, a former Marietta City Councilman, is the town manager and Sabiston is an adjunct faculty member for Brunswick Community College. They have two children, Natalie, 12, and Eric, 6.