Around Town: Wiles angles for spot on Georgia DOT after the agony of defeat
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney and Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
December 04, 2010 12:00 AM | 2020 views | 6 6 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Outgoing state Sen. John Wiles (R-Kennesaw), who lost his Senate seat in the July primary to popular businessman Lindsey Tippins, has been lobbying lawmakers for a seat on the 13-member board of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Board members, who serve five-year terms, are elected by a majority of a General Assembly caucus from each of Georgia's thirteen congressional districts. Wiles wants the 11th congressional district seat, where there are 11 state senators and 21 state representatives.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said Wiles asked for his vote a couple weeks ago, and he intends to vote for him, believing he would do well in the position. Votes are usually held by secret ballot the third week of January.

Wiles is challenging incumbent David Doss, 55, of Rome, who was first elected to the board in 2002, and who has been in the real estate business for 32 years. Doss said the two arguments being used against him are that he's not from Cobb (true, although his wife is a graduate of Sprayberry High School) and that he's a Democrat (not true). Doss was appointed by former Gov. Roy Barnes to serve on both the Georgia Children's Trust Fund Commission and on the One Georgia Authority. And he held a fundraiser for Barnes' bid for governor against Nathan Deal. Doss said that although he comes comes from a long line of Democrats, he switched to the Republican Party in 2005 and has supported Republican candidates on local, state and national levels, including U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of east Cobb and U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta.

As for his support of Barnes, he said, they are longtime friends.

"Roy Barnes has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years," Doss said. "He served in the senate with my father, and he has in fact been my attorney before. You know, where I come from friendship is more important than political partisanship, and while I am a Republican, I am also a loyal friend, and I think most people can understand that."

Doss said he is fully prepared to support Nathan Deal now that he has been elected Georgia's governor.

"I'm elated that there is a change in the governor's office," he said.

While Doss and outgoing Gov. Sonny Perdue started off as friends, that reportedly ended over Doss's 2007 statewide transportation plan known as "The Big Idea" which was an innovative, $50 billion approach to solving Georgia's transportation problems based on the use of a statewide one percent sales tax. The notoriously hot tempered Perdue reportedly exploded when he learned about the plan through the media, apparently because his chief of staff, Ed Holcombe, had forgotten to brief him on the subject. In retaliation, Perdue later reportedly ordered the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate Doss, an act that permanently ended their friendship.

Doss said he's "heard" the Cobb Chamber of Commerce has been making calls in support of Wiles, using the argument that it's better to have someone from Cobb County on the DOT board.

If Cobb were being shortchanged that would be one thing, but Doss said Cobb has been well-served by his leadership on the board.

"I think the issue is this: do you want to give eight years of experience and the chairman of the P3 Committee, who shepherded it from the ashes to completion at this critical time, and trade that in because the guy is not from your county or the guy supported a friend, and give that to a candidate who's said he plans in two years on running for Congress," Doss said, noting that Wiles has said he plans to run for Gingrey's seat.

Former state Rep. Jeff Lewis of Cartersville is also considering a run for the GDOT board seat, Doss said.

"Jeff Lewis was defeated in his own county and now he's wanting to run," Doss said.

Doss said what it amounts to is two defeated elected officials who want to get their fingers back in the "government pie."

In other Gold Dome news ... Gov.-elect Deal this week nominated Chris Cummiskey to be the next commissioner of the state's Economic Development office. Cummiskey, a former aide to Sen. Johnny Isakson, will replace Heidi Green of Marietta, whom Gov. Perdue promoted to the agency's top job - at $140,000 a year - just last June.

Green, who previously was a deputy commissioner in the department and is a favorite of Perdue, will not remain with the agency after Cummiskey's nomination is approved, said Brian Robinson, who is heading Deal's transition. Efforts to reach Green this week were unsuccessful.

When asked if Green would be offered another state job, Robinson said, "That has not been discussed," though he insists the change is not a reflection of Green's work or abilities.

"With any new administration there are personnel changes. It's a time where many state leaders choose to explore new opportunities," Robinson said.

And in fact, one well-placed Capitol source said Green will be highly sought after as an economic development consultant.

That source says Deal didn't believe that economic development was a very high priority with Perdue, and wanted his own person in the job. Gov. Deal will also be more personally involved in ED, along with Cummiskey, our source says.

Other politicos have wondered out loud whether Perdue's support of Karen Handel in the GOP gubernatorial primary may be a factor in Green becoming one of the first casualties of the Deal administration. But in his announcement Monday, Deal pointed to several other Perdue-era leaders who will keep their jobs, including GBI director Vernon Keenan, and Todd Long, planning director at GDOT.

Readers will also recall that Perdue recently appointed Green's husband, Reuben, to replace the retired Ken Nix on the Cobb Superior Court bench in late August. Judge Green's job pays $120,000 a year. ...


Meanwhile ... Washington politicos say Sen. Isakson may in line to be appointed to either the powerful appropriations or finance committees in the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January.

He now serves on six committees: foreign relations; health, education, labor and pensions; commerce, science and transportation; veterans' affairs; small businesses and entrepreneurship; and ethics.

Isakson, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004, easily won re-election on Nov. 2, earning 58 percent of the statewide vote over Democrat Mike Thurmond, who took 39 percent.


When you mess up, you should fess up ... AT messed up a few weeks ago when we wrote that State Court Judge Toby Prodgers was interested in running for the Superior Court seat now held by Dorothy Robinson. Prodgers says he has no intention of running for Superior Court, but will seek re-election to his State Court seat in 2012. Still, he said, "people have been real nice to me since that appeared."

Rather, Juvenile Court Judge Gregory A. Poole says he will run for the Superior Court seat, but only if Robinson does not seek reelection.

"Things are going great in Juvenile Court. I've been there almost eight years, and we do about 8,000 cases a year," Poole said. He also said he spends one week a month in Superior Court, assisting those judges.

State Court Judge Roland R. Castellanos and Marietta City Councilman Van Pearlberg are also expected to vie for the Superior Court seat, if it in fact opens up ...


Sick bay ... Dianne Butler is continuing to recover from several serious injuries suffered when she fell from the stage of the Earl Smith Strand Theatre on Sept. 24. Butler, the marketing director of the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, had just given the welcoming speech when the spotlights turned off, she said. She couldn't see anything and was disoriented, and only took a few steps when she stepped off the stage and fell 10 feet to the concrete floor of the empty orchestra pit, she said.

Butler broke an arm, a leg and a knee in the fall; dislocated her shoulder and hip; and her pelvis was fractured, among other injuries. She spent nearly a month at WellStar Kennestone, but now is back at her home in midtown, and using a wheelchair to get around.

"I'm going to be fine," she said by phone on Friday. "People I didn't even know have been inquiring how I'm doing, and that is so sweet. My colleagues ... we've never been closer. Everybody loves to be around you when you're fun, but there's nothing like a difficult circumstance to reveal who your real friends are, and my coworkers have just been phenomenal."

Brandt Blocker, executive director of the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, marveled at his colleague's spirit.

"She's a real trooper," he said of Butler. "She's already told me that once she recovers, we won't be able to keep her from doing the welcoming speeches again." ...


Want to start off the week with an uplifting and inspiring message from one of America's most respected business leaders? Then plan to attend the Cobb Chamber's First Monday Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest where retired Synovus Chairman of the Board and CEO Jimmy Blanchard from Columbus is speaking.

Tickets are $35 for Chamber members, and $50 for non-members, and the Marriott is at 200 Interstate North Parkway, 30339.

Blanchard, a 1965 graduate of UGA Law School, joined Columbus Bank and Trust Company as a top executive at age 28, shortly after the death of his banker father, and guided the bank into a $33 billion multibank and financial services company before he retired in 2006.

Under his leadership, Synovus was recognized by Fortune magazine as #1 on the list of "The 100 Best Companies to Work for" in America. Blanchard was also repeatedly recognized for instilling a culture of servant leadership throughout the Synovus family.

Kessel Stelling, former Cobb Chamber president and president of the Bank of North Georgia, a Synovus affiliate, is now CEO of Synovus Financial Corporation and divides his time between Columbus and east Cobb.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
w in maietta
February 11, 2011
now that loser Wiles lost this post...maybe he can keep his mouth shut (doubtful) and go away...what a LOSER he has been
December 11, 2010
Wiles is one of the ELITE he can't just go away. After all think of the WALKER students. Who would defend underage drinking?
w in maietta
December 09, 2010
can't wiles just GO AWAY?...what a only have to meet him once to know him, scum
el paso
December 08, 2010
I think everyone is sick of Wiles.
I agree
December 07, 2010
I agree with Just wondering... it IS time for Mr. Wiles to give up on politics. I guess it is hard to give up that power.
Just wondering
December 04, 2010
Does this mean Senator Wiles, who can't seem to figure out that he lost his senate race, is willing to represent DUI cases? After all he is a state senator and wants to be on the DOT Board. Might just be time to spend with his family and say goodbye to public service (and some private service) for Mr. Wiles.
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