Lee and Hankerson plan to quietly meet March 9 with the District Attorney's Office staff, as well as those of the Superior, Juvenile, State and other courts in Cobb. Lee and Hankerson are expected to direct those agencies to whack their budgets for Fiscal Year 2012, which starts Oct. 1.
Said Around Town's source, who leaked the news about Lee's hush-hush meeting, "I'll bet you he's going to read them the riot act."
That may garner cheers from Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, who played the Lone Ranger when she voted against Lee's FY11 budget in September because she felt that while other county departments were making deep cuts in their budgets during the economic downturn, the court system was flying high and not sharing the pain of other county departments - and that the Board of Commissioners was letting them get away with it, year after year.
"The total budget for the 2011 county manager's departments is over 6 percent less than it was in 2010," she said then. "When you look at the courts budgets from 2011 to 2010, there is only a reduction of 1.4 percent. That's nearly a 5 percent difference. They need to step up to the plate and, in my opinion, there needs to be shared sacrifice. "That figure shows quite a differentiation between the two areas and suggests that the departments outside of the court system, not including public safety, are expected to make more cuts in their budgets than the courts," Goreham said, in a follow-up article the MDJ published in October.
But at that time, Lee defended the court system's budgets.
"The court systems have been extremely cooperative over the past few years, since we've gone through this recession, to work diligently with the county manager, county staff and the finance department to get a budget that is commensurate with what they have to accomplish and considerate of budget constraints. The court systems are part of public safety and there's a commitment that's been made by this board to public safety. We need to make sure they have the appropriate funding needed for them to operate," Lee said.
But that was then and this is now. With Lee facing a $28 million deficit in FY11 and potentially an even bigger drop in funding for FY12; and with voters being asked to approve a 1 percent SPLOST referendum March 15, he seems determined to show he's putting the squeeze on any unnecessary spending.
THE MARIETTA BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, headed by Meral Clarke last week became the latest group to endorse passage of the Cobb Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax March 15. Others whose leaders have voted unanimously, like the MBA, to approve it include the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association (headed by Jason Waters) and the South Cobb Arts Alliance (headed by Derek Nowatski). It also has the support - to no one's surprise - of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the Town Center Area Community Improvement District and the Cumberland CID.
Meanwhile, the Citizens for Cobb's Future released another long list of new supporters of the SPLOST, including Allan Bishop, David Carriker, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's former spokeswoman Jaillene Hunter of Marietta, Jennifer New, Joe Trepke, former Cobb school board member Laura Searcy, Randy Wootton and William Adams.
THE WINDY HILL ROAD bridge over Interstate 75 North is likely soon to bear the name of former state Rep. Bill Atkins (R-Smyrna), a retired pharmacist who headed the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency during the Sonny Perdue administration. Atkins, one of the first Republicans elected to represent Cobb, back in the days when GOPers were a distinct minority in the state Legislature, nevertheless managed to maintain good relations with then-Speaker Tom Murphy, Gov. Zell Miller and other ranking Democrats, and was thereby one of the few Republican legislators of his era able to make much of a mark in the Golden Dome. He’s a co-founder (with current Cobb District Attorney Pat Head) of the Atkins-Head Band, a country music outfit that has been a fixture at Cobb political events for decades.
A resolution affixing Atkins’ name to the bridge has been introduced in the Legislature by a former colleague of Atkins, state Sen. Steve Thompson — an Austell Democrat — which itself is testimony that Atkins hails from a happier era when politics wasn’t quite so personal and when friendships and respect weren’t bounded by party lines.
GOV. NATHAN DEAL has named several Cobb educators to his new Education Advisory Board. That 53-member body includes Marietta school Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck, Mableton Elementary Principal Kym Yoriko Eisgruber, Marietta Center for Advanced Academics Principal Dr. Karen Smits, Griffin Middle School teacher Connie Jackson and retired Cobb teacher Elizabeth Rhodes. Other familiar names on the new board include Douglas County Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz (formerly associate superintendent of Cobb schools) and Gwinnett Super Alvin Wilbanks.
THE COBB YOUNG REPUBLICANS will host state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-north Cobb) at their 6:30 p.m. meeting tonight at Simpatico on Marietta Square.
WHICH COMES FIRST? A home’s interior design or its art? Sponsors of the inaugural Art & Design House planned for May 7 to 22 in Marietta contend as a fundraiser for the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art that the correct answer is “the art.”
The event will take place at both a new 16-room (decorated by 21 designers) show house built by Mark Kirk at 21 Whitlock Drive in his Walnut Grove development, and in the adjacent Lawrence House, which was built in 1870.
A candlelit party is planned for May 6 to kick off the show and will feature live music and silent auction.
Tickets for the party are $75, and tickets for the other days are $15.
The Lawrence House will serve as a gallery for Southeastern art and jewelry, as well as a cooking demonstration by Johnnie Gabriel.
Leading the design team for the show house are Kathy Kuruc, Melinda Heidt and Beth Meyer. Their roster of designers includes Leigh Ann Bushey, Cindy Davidson, Sue Dean, Ginger Gaddy, Jerome Garrison, Ann Gronewald, Susan Hardy, Nancy Hildreth, Chris Hutcheson, Molly Johnson, Clark Miller, Barbara Moran, Ann Morris, Yvonne Portwood, Kelli Wallace, Tony Whitlock, Debbie Withrow and Anne Young.
The show house also will showcase paintings and sculptures by Elizabeth Barber, Clara Blalock, Helen DeRamus, Claire Dunaway, Linda Flournoy, Seth Havercamp, Amanda Henrich, Mary Jane Huegel, Patrick McGannon, Lisa Moore, Anne Packard, Steve Penley, Eduin Rosell, Maci Scheuer, Belinda Sillars and Richard Thompson.
More than 400 volunteers will be needed to help pull off the event. For more, go to www.ArtAndDesignShowHouse.com.
RETIRED LOCKHEED MARTIN chief experimental test pilot Lyle Schaefer, 71, of Marietta is back from Denver where he was recently inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.
The 1957 Class B state basketball team had a starting lineup that wasn’t the easiest to follow since Schaefer was on it teamed with four brothers — three of whom were triplets.
It was Newton, Newton, Newton, Newton and Schaefer.
“It was confusing. They finally just started using numbers,” said Schaefer, who played center.
The four brothers actually had 16 other siblings, all from the same father and mother.
Schaefer recalled their winning score of 55 to 52. Of the 55 points, the Newton brothers scored 50.
However, “They wouldn’t have won without my five points,” Schaefer said with a laugh.
Schaefer said it was great to reunite with the Newton triplets at the ceremony.
The winning team, which was from the town of Mead, Colo., north of Denver, was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month.
Before he retired from Lockheed in 1999, Schaefer flew two tours in Vietnam with the Navy, often flying at low altitudes to drop flares, troops and provide protection.
He and his wife, Ginny Maude, who have five children and 10 grandchildren, live in Whitlock Heights and attend First United Methodist Church.