WHAT A DIFFERENCE a year makes. The board of the Marietta Museum of History holds its first meeting of the New Year today and expectations are that it will be considerably calmer than last January’s counterpart.
That meeting took place against a backdrop of severe financial difficulties, internal dissension and strained relations with the City Council. Board Chairman Dr. Harlon Crimm (retired president of Chattahoochee Tech) presented two budgets for FY12, one of which would have meant axing longtime executive director Jan Russell Galt to help make ends meet. But museum founder/CEO
Dan Cox unexpectedly brandished a typewritten resignation letter at the meeting and promised to sign it if Galt was let go.
Several Russell supporters (including her husband, Mike Russell), commandeered the meeting from the audience and argued forcefully on her behalf, and the museum board ultimately chose to retain Russell and go with the higher budget. The board did so knowing that course would mean eating deeply into their reserves.
But in a meeting full of unexpected twists, Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, a former member of the museum board who was at the meeting, concluded it by pledging $5,000 from his own pocket to help make ends meet and challenged the community to do the same. The museum wound up raising an additional $13,000 in donations during 2012, the most in recent years, and the board is expected to be told today that it will finish FY12 in the black, according to incoming Chairman Kee Carlisle.
“It’s a combination of getting more income and cutting costs,” he told Around Town. “The small cuts add up when you concentrate on doing them.”
The Museum also saw more revenue from its two major annual fundraisers, the “Hearts for Heroes” show last spring and “Marietta Street fest” last fall, he added.
The Museum has been hampered by the triple-net lease it signed with landlord the Downtown Marietta Development Association in 2010 for its space in the antebellum Kennesaw House just off Marietta Square at the behest of then-Chairman Brent Brown, and also saw its share of the city’s car-rental tax cut by $95,000 by the council since 2008. But hopes are that with the economy finally starting to stabilize, and with the level of tensions with the council easing as well, that the Museum will see that number go back up in 2013.
James Hudgins will be the new vice chair and will head the Museum’s Finance Committee.
THE BOARD ALSO IS LIKELY to be updated on its Aviation Wing component on South Cobb Drive. The board’s goal there is to build a pavilion with handicapped-accessible restrooms, Carlisle said.
“We’ve got a lot of groups wanting to use it for events, but we need it to be handicapped- accessible,” he said.
Carlisle will meet Jan. 15 with Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee and hopes to persuade him to increase the county’s level of participation in the Museum, and especially the Aviation Wing, which is in unincorporated Cobb. Carlisle also said he plans to remind Lee of the $500,000 the county had pledged to the aviation museum in 2004. That pledge was contingent on an earlier incarnation of the aviation museum raising $2 million. That board eventually hit that figure — but by then had also spent nearly all $2 million without breaking ground.
The Aviation Wing under the Museum’s stewardship has been making slow but steady progress, and it might be time to revisit that long-ago pledge.
“We’re looking for great things from the Aviation Wing,” said Carlisle. “We don’t have any plans to spin it off at all. We think it can grow and be one of the major attractions in Cobb County.”
Who knows? With some stepped-up support from the county for the Wing, next January’s Museum board meeting could be even more upbeat than Tuesday’s is likely to be.
ORAL ARGUMENTS are scheduled for Wednesday — but could well be rescheduled — on whether to dismiss the indictment in the case of Jessica Colotl, the Kennesaw State University student who became a lighting rod in the battle over immigration reform when it was discovered in the case of a minor traffic incident that she was in the country illegally.
On Oct. 15, Colotl lawyer Jerome Lee filed a motion to dismiss the indictment of Colotl on a felony charge of making false statements, which then-Cobb District Attorney Pat Head quickly seconded. Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley must decide whether to grant the defense motion, thereby ending the case; or deny it, which likely would prompt an appeal by Colotl. New D.A.
Vic Reynolds, who takes office Wednesday, has said he would decide within two weeks whether he agreed with Head that the case should be dismissed.
DISTRICT 34 state Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Marietta) will hold a town hall meeting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dogfather’s Hot Dogs, 2769 Chastain Meadows Parkway. His push to change the state’s gun laws is sure to come up.
THE COBB SCHOOL BOARD will elect a chairman at its meeting Wednesday and it’s unclear who it will be. Two incumbents have told AT they are interested in serving — vice Chair David Morgan and Tim Stultz.
CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS magazine has included several Cobb figures as among the top political strategists in the country: Democrat Chris Carpenter, partner of Peachtree Battle Group; Republican
Heath Garrett, founding member of COMM360; and Democrat Bobby Kahn, owner of LUC Media Group. C&E said of Carpenter: “A top aide to ex-Gov. Roy Barnes, Carpenter has a long history in state government. He’s also worked campaigns at the local, state and national level.”
Said C&E of Garrett: “Part of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s inner circle, Garrett is a skilled strategist who wears the hats of attorney, political advisor and PR man.” And said C&E of Kahn: “He’s one of the most feared media consultants in the state. Kahn is known for his willingness to go after an opposing campaign, even in the primaries.”
GEORGIA Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb will kick off his 2014 reelection campaign with a 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday fundraising reception at The Commerce Club on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta. Olens says this will be his only such event until April because state law prohibits elected officials from accepting campaign contributions while the Legislature (which convenes Jan. 14) is in session.
KUDOS to Marietta lawyer “Mazy” Mazloom, who will receive the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service next month from the Georgia Bar Association. The awards will be presented by Georgia Supreme Court Justice Benham.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE “DEMOLITION”?
Well, the Marietta City Council’s Judicial/Legislative Committee spent a good half-hour chewing on that — and each other — at Thursday’s meeting. The issue came up in connection with a zoning case at the Dec. 12 council meeting, with the backdrop being Councilman Philip Goldstein’s decision in fall 2010 to demolish the historic Cuthbertson Building facing Marietta Square in hopes of replacing it with a fivestory building. The city has fought the councilman all the way to the state Supreme Court. Here’s part of what was said on Thursday:
Mayor Steve Tumlin: “ The council wasn’t talking about this. We were talking about whether it’s ‘substantially changed’ or ‘demolished.’ Did not one person ask for this?”
Councilman Jim King: “It was a general discussion among council —”
Goldstein: “Among elected officials ...”
Tumlin: “It wasn’t the word ‘demolished.’ It was whether or not it was ‘substantial.’ Y’all are twisting words. That’s the way I remembered it. If y’all want to argue, I’ll stay here and argue with you. I’ll veto. I think this was done purely to help Philip Goldstein and his lawsuit and I think it’s a violation of every tenet we know. Do you disagree?”
Goldstein: “I disagree. I did not bring this forward, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Tumlin: “Well, that’s what I’m saying. Maybe it was one of your puppets. I know what I said. We remember completely different.”
Goldstein: “The second half [of the memo] deals with ‘rebuilt’ and ‘renovated,’ you have a problem with that?”