Newcomer Cupid blocks Chairman Lee's appointment to Cobb's development arm
by Jon Gillooly
January 25, 2013 12:36 AM | 4847 views | 35 35 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lisa Cupid
Lisa Cupid
slideshow
 Cobb Chairman Tim Lee i<br>Staff/File
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee i
Staff/File
slideshow
MARIETTA — New Commissioner Lisa Cupid scored a political win this week by deflecting an attempt to stack the Development Authority of Cobb County with Chamber-friendly board members, critics say.

County Chairman Tim Lee had planned to ask commissioners this week to appoint former Chamber of Commerce chairman and Bank of North Georgia president Rob Garcia to the DACC.

But Lee withdrew Garcia’s name from the agenda after Cupid objected.

Lee said Cupid called him over the weekend to say she believed it was important that the appointee live in south Cobb just as the former person who held the seat did, Don Wix.

Lee said while he would take Cupid’s request under advisement, he intends to shift the way the appointments have been made to the DACC over the last two decades.

When the DACC was originally formed by the state Legislature, it was the county chairman’s job to name the candidate and get approval from the Board of Commissioners. But when Bill Byrne was elected chairman in the 1990s, he changed the process, allowing individual commissioners to make their own appointments, a tradition continued under Chairman Sam Olens.

“That courtesy became practice and eventually evolved to the point where everybody thought it was part of the legislation when it’s not,” Lee said. “What I’m trying to do is bring it back, to go back to the original legislation so we’re doing it legally.”

Byrne and others say the real reason Lee wants to change that tradition is because Commissioner Bob Ott’s two recent appointees don’t toe the chamber line.

“This is clearly an attempt to focus on recapturing the Development Authority to represent chamber interests and offset Thea Powell and Donna Rowe’s energies to bring that under control,” Byrne said. “Rob Garcia, as you know, is the fair-weathered son of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. That’s the whole purpose of it.”

Powell said the problem is that the Cobb Chamber has cornered the market when it comes to the DACC. The DACC pays the chamber to hold its board meetings at the chamber offices. The chamber also provides staffing services for the DACC.

“I think that now we need transparency, which I didn’t see when I got on the Development Authority, and I think the chamber wants to maintain control of economic development as much as possible within Cobb County,” Powell said.

Powell raised that point at the DACC’s board meeting earlier this month, when she questioned the job description of the DACC’s executive director, chamber employee Nelson Geter. That job description has Geter reporting not to the DACC board but to Chamber CEO David Connell and Chamber vice president of economic development Brooks Mathis, Powell said.

“We pay the salary so why would we not participate in evaluating the executive director?”

Powell asked.

Lee responded to the accusation that his goal in revising DACC appointments was to install a board that rubber-stamps the chamber’s agenda.

“Cobb County is the only county in the whole friggin’ state where it’s wrong to be aligned with the chamber and the business community,” Lee said. “I just don’t understand that. We’re all in the business of creating jobs together. They have a huge constituency of businesses; the small business associations have aligned with them. For us to sit in a silo and not support them and work with them is ignorant.”

Powell has a different view.

“When a chamber is in a position where they control a body that has been created by the Legislature that stands alone, and there isn’t any transparency, and they don’t report to that organization, i.e., the Development Authority of Cobb County, that’s problematic,” she said.

For example, Powell said she has asked for data on how the marketing dollars the DACC has provided chamber staff are being spent and what the results have yielded, but her requests have been ignored.

“So I don’t think that public monies should just be given to somebody and let them do as they will,” Powell said. “We have a responsibility that those monies need to be spent in economic development, and they need to be able to provide that data to us that ‘with this money, this is what was generated in terms of contacts or contracts or whatever.’ We don’t get any of that. There’s no reporting back to the authority. It’s just the check is written and then the money is gone.”

Byrne said Lee’s position on the chamber reflects that of “an elected official who is financially obligated because of campaign contributions to promote the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce.”

The agenda of the Board of Commissioners and chamber is not always the same, Byrne said. The chamber’s focus is bringing new jobs and business to the county.

The Board of Commissioners’ job is how issues of land use and zoning are regulated and other county policies for those who already live here, not just those whom the chamber wants to bring in, Byrne said.

“And those priorities and those policies may not be supported by the Chamber of Commerce,” Byrne said. “The IMAGE issue is just one. The issue of EDGE is another. Those kinds of things that require public funding must be scrutinized very carefully in decisions made on what is best for the taxpayer, not what is best for the job creator.”

EDGE or “Economic Development for a Growing Economy,” is a job recruitment program being development by Lee, the chamber and others. IMAGE or “ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers” is a federal program designed to stop the employment of illegal immigrants.

The bottom line, Powell said, is that Cupid should be allowed to appoint someone to the DACC who represents her community.

“I absolutely think that she should be able to appoint whomever she believes is going to best represent the interests of South Cobb and that would be somebody from that community that’s familiar with what is needed down there as far as development, advocating on behalf of South Cobb,” Powell said.

Cupid said she hopes the matter will be resolved in the next month.
Comments
(35)
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the new south cobb
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January 28, 2013
Lisa Cupid, with the help of a committed south Cobb Community will do quite well as the commissioner. The area is changing and will not be the same in 8 years. The key word is committed and staying true to the vision.
West Cobber
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January 26, 2013
Lisa Cupid is my new best friend! Keep it up girl and don't let the big boys get you down. Tim Lee may have met his match and this is fantastic!!!
SG68
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January 26, 2013
Just another example of Tim's unabashed subserviency to the Chamber Leadership.

Rob "Pancho Villa" Garcia would be a disaster for the Development Authority.

Does he even live in Cobb County?
Mark Johnson
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January 26, 2013
Has anyone asked Mr. Garcia if he is willing to move to Bankhead Highway?
ole man
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January 26, 2013
Another backbone on the BOC, Fantastic. A step in the right direction, another voice for the citizens just what Cobb needs on the BOC
loiuiseb
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January 25, 2013
Garcia's agenda is questionable at best, as a member of the board of elections he has ignored issues related to the accuracy of our voting process. He is as wrapped into the good ole boy system as they come. Cobb Countians need to wake up and call for ethics in our govt. officials
Not a Fan
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January 25, 2013
The problem Tim, is that the Chamber is only generating money for itself and it's leaders. The Cobb Chamber is not attracting new businesses to Cobb, nor is it promoting it's member businesses.

Recently considering Cobb Chamber Membership,I asked both of the Chamber's "Business Development Directors" what they do to drive new business to our business. Their answer?? "Attend Chamber events, like our monthly breakfasts". That only drives money to the Cobb Chamber, not to member businesses.

It's just a bunch of buddies making money for themselves - and a lot of that comes from government agencies and local government contracts which are funded by the Cobb taxpayers.

It's pathetic really.
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
What's pathetic is that you would make these false comments with no facts to back them up. I don't believe The Business Development Directors (and by the way,there are three)at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce gave such an answer when you asked if in fact you did ask. Don't be a hater. As a man sows, that shall he also reap.
chamber maid
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January 25, 2013
Not a Fan,

I can believe your statements because that is the same answer I got when I asked a similar question in response to a solicitation to re up membership in the Chamber.
anonymous
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January 26, 2013
Goodness, anonymous, I detect seeds of hatred in your response. The contents of my post are my experience with the Chamber and my observations of local events. Unless you are either Mark Stuckey or Sue Webb (Cobb Chamber Business Development Directors), you would have no way of knowing the contents of the conversations regarding what the Chamber could do to help us grow our business. It is irrelevant what you believe - like it or not, it happened.

Regarding what you call "false comments", I would like to direct your attention to the recent announcements of both General Motors and Airwatch opening new facilities in North Fulton County, and the fact that both corporations point to the business-friendly environment they found in north Fulton, and specifically cite the involvement of the North Fulton Chamber as a factor in their decision to locate the respective businesses in North Fulton.

There is nothing wrong with people and businesses making money, but there is a lot wrong with the Chamber gang doing it on the backs of taxpayers.

You must be a Chamber insider or you wouldn't get so upset.
mk-question
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January 25, 2013
Were any of the F-16's we are sending to the muslim brotherhood (our enemy) in Egypt, crafted at Lockheed in Marietta?

If so, then Lockheed is a traitor & we are all just sleeping sheep!

If you want to see how people fight for their beliefs, see the live feed of Tahrir Squuare at RT-Russian Times.

Enlightening.
F-16's
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January 25, 2013
That is 20 F-16's we are sending to arm our enemy.

I too, would like to know if we built them here.
Watcher...
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January 25, 2013
This F-16 deal was cut when Mubarak was Egypt's President.

Obama could have and should have stopped this sale to our Islamic Enemies!

At some point the Israeli Air Force will use these F-16s as targets.
JR in Mableton
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January 25, 2013
Ms. Cupid is off to a good start....however, it continues to be disappointing to see the toxic levels of disrespect shown by the same half dozen bloggers (and their multiple personalities) on this site. Ask yourself the same questions. What have you done to make Cobb a better place? What have you done to create jobs? What have you done to improve the school system? It's cheap and easy to be a critic. It's tough to be a leader, and I think we have a leader in Ms. Cupid.

anonymous
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January 25, 2013
Amen and amen again. Right on. Somebody thought the same thing I did. I get so tired of the "repeaters" coming out here to just repeat the same old, same old over and over again. Same old stuff, same old complaints just using different words. I didn't vote for Obama but I respect him as our leader because he is just that whether I like it or not. What have any of these "repeaters" done to do any good for anybody? Just complain over and over and over. And tell us where the grass is greener.
mk- gwinnett wins
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January 25, 2013
If you want to see how it's done, take a look at Partnership Gwinnett & Gwinnett Chambers websites.

Companies are flocking to Gwinnett.

BIG companies w/ BIG money & BIG jobs!!

Period!
Craig Kootsillas
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January 25, 2013
Tim has it all wrong.

It is not the role of government to create jobs. It is the role of government to create an environment in which the private sector can succeed.

In that, our government is failing us.

Unless, of course, your firm is involved in pouring concrete or is affiliated with WellStar.
An admirer
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January 25, 2013
Good girl. Keep it up - we need you at the Board of Commissioners.
Laura Armstrong
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January 25, 2013
Bill Byrne and Thea Powell are absolutely correct here. Chambers are great organizations... my favorite job was working for the Atlanta Chamber. But the players are NOT elected officials, have no accountability to the public and should not be allowed to manipulate our elected officials nor set public policy.

The IMAGE program is the best current example of a conflict of interest. Cobb citizens voted to elect officials who ran on being strong advocates of the law, including existing immigration law. Yet the chamber obviously advocates for freedom for their members to bend employment laws, even if it means subcontracting questionable -- let's just say it outright -- illegal labor over legitimate workers with real (not stolen) social security cards.

When big business in the county threatens to pull campaign donations and support for commissioners like Helen Goreham, Helen Goreham thinks twice about voting against the chamber, thus her wavering on IMAGE.

Cobb chamber biggies are known around town for being philanthropists, but true philanthropy (as we were reminded in a letter to the editor last week) is only when there is nothing in the deal for the guy getting the credit. Chamber members are lobbyists, and need some kind of oversight.
irked
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January 25, 2013
It is an interesting calculation Helen is making.

Will a chamber candidate do well in West Cobb?

If I were her, I would be much more concerned about the number of grassroots candidates in West Cobb that are ready to take her on.

You dance with who brung you
Pat H
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January 25, 2013
Great to hear from you Ms. Armstrong. Your writing skills have not left you and you are missed in this paper.

It is easy for Chamber buddies to finance Lee's campaign when citizens and taxpayers subsidize their workforce of illegal aliens through welfare, food stamps, free healthcare, schooling for anchors in Spanish and zero income tax payments for cash employees. Exactly how do you think illegals with many children can afford big trucks if they are uneducated, unskilled and unable to even speak English?
Just Sayin'....
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January 26, 2013
Right on the money with those comments Ms. Armstrong!!! And the reference to the comments on philanthropy from last weeks comments is one to be quoted often. Thank you for weighing in.
Be Careful
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January 25, 2013
Dear "Common Sense",

The Chamber has become an issue because they don't DO anything. Foster development? Where? Encourage economic growth? Where?

They suck up millions of dollars. It's nothing but a boys club.

And when you look at how many people are on this board, that board, holding down 3 or 4 positions at once. It's beyond absurd.

The fact that Timmy wants to appoint a buddy bank president is proof they aren't serious about anything other than kissing butt and giving their friends high profile positions.

Someone please show me ONE thing the Chamber has accomplished in the past two or three years. Any business name that relocated here because of the Chamber.
old marietta
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January 25, 2013
Dear Be Careful,

Very well said.

A Back Scratching Boys Club.

Be interested to see if anyone can offer up the ONE thing.
FROM TEXAS
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January 25, 2013
Can’t believe has a problem with the fox watching the hen house, having Rob Garcia is like having Sam Olens or Ted Lighthead on that board. Yea Timmy Lisa isn’t easy like Woody was the legislation needs to be changed so all these cronies can’t serve on more than one board and not more than two terms. The CID’s, ARC and all other boards are packed with cronies from all over the Metro Crook Network.
mk-absolute power
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January 25, 2013
ditto!!

...now if only the smyrna folks would wake up & dismantle the 26 year crony rein of mayor bacon, we could maybe begin to see some business actually want to locate here!
old marietta
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January 25, 2013
What is the total number of businesses currently licensed in Cobb County? And how many of those businesses are current members of the Chamber of Commerce? Anybody know?
TIC
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January 26, 2013
Over 30,000 licensed business of which somewhere around 10% are Chamber members.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog!!!

I16
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January 25, 2013
"Good job Ms Cupid"
Just pointing out...
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January 25, 2013
Tim Lee's abrasive personality mixed with the facade of self importance is something the voters better get used to for the next 4 years. They ignored the obvious incompetence and his liberal mean streak in the last election.
commom sense
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January 25, 2013
I totally agree with Tim Lee. The Cobb Chamber is an outstanding private sector community resource whose goal it is is to foster economic development in Cobb County; how this has all ended up being a wedge issue is bizarre....and who cares what Bill Byrne thinks - he is a yesteryear dinosaur - good riddance. When Cobb County government had the option of "outsourcing" its economic development department, they should have done it regardless of the media scrutiny...it made perfect sense. Michael Hughes would have been a much stronger resource working underneath the dynamic David Connell than he is stuck within the county bureaucratic structure. Just sayin....
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
Your right the best crooks in the Metor Atlanta
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
Wow, is this a chamber insider or what? Bill Byrne never cowtowed to you people and that's just made you all crazy. While you had a job, just in case, all lined up for Timmy boy.

Who is obviously such a "dynamic" player.....hahaha.
irked
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January 25, 2013
Dynamic? This is the guy that tried to take a pistol aboard an airplane?

This is the kind of guy we trust to lead?

You have got to be kidding.

To lose control of a weapon to that extent is inexcusable.
SevenOneFour
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January 26, 2013
Connell dynamic?

An oxymoron if I have ever heard one.

As I understand it he can't even function without his meds.
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