Around Town: Goldstein's likely suit vs. city qualifies as a ... man bites dog story
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney, Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
March 15, 2011 12:00 AM | 2016 views | 4 4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
IT'S ONE OF THE OLDEST RULES of thumb in the journalist's handbook:

Dog bites man? No story.

Man bites dog? Now that's a story.

Governments get sued all the time by angry citizens. And government officials sometimes sue citizens and other governments. But it's a rare day that a government official sues the government he's part of. Then again, there aren't many elected officials like Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein.

Goldstein this week filed a boatload of open records requests from the City of Marietta under the Open Records law for all documents, letters, e-mails, etc., pertaining to the council's vote last week to put a lower cap on downtown building heights. At issue is the former site of the two-story Cuthbertson Building on North Park Square, which he tore down last fall for fear that the city would not issue him another demolition permit for it. Goldstein argues the site is "grandfathered" under the new law and that the new limits should not prevent him from erecting a five-story building on the site. City officials say otherwise.

It's obvious that Goldstein is laying the groundwork for a suit against City Hall. Not only is there his Open Records request, but the fact that he brought in a court reporter to Wednesday's council meeting and then served Mayor Steve Tumlin and the other six council members with a 10-page constitutional challenge - which, as City Attorney Doug Haynie explained, is basically a pre-lawsuit that is required before someone can actually file suit. The council voted 5-1 to impose the new lower limits at that meeting.

The Cuthbertson site is now an unsightly hole in the ground - six feet deep, Goldstein insists, though it looks deeper. Many see it as an eyesore and predict it will remain so for years. After all Goldstein has no financing for his planned building, no prospective tenants and the economy remains sluggish, at best.

Meanwhile, those who knew Goldstein as a young man recall him saying that his ambitions were to own all of the properties fronting the Square (a goal toward which he and his family have made substantial progress); and to erect one or more tall buildings there. He's never quite been able to meet that goal, but obviously has not given up trying.

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IF YOU THINK THAT after today's vote you won't be hearing the word "SPLOST" for a while, you're wrong. If it passes you can look for big smiles on the faces those who are laying the groundwork for next summer's crucial vote on the "T-SPLOST" - the state's Transportation SPLOST. That vote will determine whether regional governments will be able to tax residents and businesses to pay for transportation improvements that would improve regional traffic, not just traffic in one county. Leading that charge is Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead of east Cobb, with an assist from fellow ARC board member Mayor Mark Mathews of Kennesaw.

If today's vote fails it would put a damper on the ARC's efforts, and likely would put T-SPLOST backers in the role of underdogs. They're expected to have a tough sell regardless, as they are proposing a new tax. The SPLOST that Cobb residents will vote on today is merely a continuation of an existing tax.

The Marietta Daily Journal endorsed the Cobb SPLOST on Friday, but we can live with whatever Cobb voters decide. The most important thing is that they go to the polls and let their voices be heard.

THE FLAP SPARKED by Around Town’s reports about Kennesaw State University provost-to-be Dr. Timothy Chandler’s Marxist advocacy in a 1998 paper he co-authored for publication in an academic journal spilled over on Sunday to “The Georgia Gang” political talk show on WAGA-TV.

Guest host Phil Kent (filling in for Dunwoody Crier publisher Dick Williams) began discussion by describing Chandler (who admits to having written the paper through “a Marxist lens”) as a “crypto-Marxist” and said the paper read like “something straight out of ‘The Communist Manifesto.’”

Panelist Jim Galloway, a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, countered that the matter was being blown out of proportion.

“We have a single paper co-authored by this fellow — a sports education theorist — of dubious academic ability, and I think we have seen some leaking by people (at KSU) who are dissatisfied with the process by which Chandler was hired,” Galloway said.

Chandler’s degrees are in physical education, which some have noted is an odd background for a supposed Marxist, or a supposed radical of any political persuasion. Galloway added that Karl Marx was mentioned by name only five times in the paper’s 22 pages.

Kent agreed that Marx was barely mentioned, but said the paper is nonetheless “saturated with Marxism.”

Interjected Galloway: “Quoting Marx doesn’t make you a Marxist.”

To which Kent retorted, “No, but spouting class warfare makes you a Marxist.”

Kent also noted that Chandler had described the United States as “the most violent nation-state in history.”

But we are, Galloway answered.

“This is Atlanta. We’ve been burned to the ground. This is a violent nation.”

Chandler has not signed any contract with KSU, Kent said, adding that he was told by KSU President Dr. Dan Papp that he was going to ask Chandler to put out a statement about the issue and his beliefs.

“And it will be interesting to see if he apologizes,” Kent said.

Chandler has been mostly incognito since the story erupted, though Galloway said that “We’ve talked to him and I think he still plans on coming down here.”

The controversy is emblematic of how liberal most faculties are, argued the third panelist on the show, Orit Sklar of Frontpage.com.

“What we’re seeing are deep problems in universities, and professors and administrators who are hiring their own,” she said. “They are putting forth a philosophical litmus test and hiring their own rather than focusing on professional standards. This paper was poorly written and (search committees) need to take a look at who these people are and what their qualifications are rather than their ideology.”

RUTHE LEVY, who ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb) last fall, is the new president of the Cobb Democratic Women. She was elected at the group’s meeting Thursday night. Other new officers are first VP Candace Spence, second co-VPs Anderia Bishop and Doris Caroll, secretary Barbara Jaycox, treasurer Carol Stephens and parliamentarian David Lombrozo. Levy, who had served as interim president following the resignation of Connie Taylor in January, held off a floor challenge from unexpected nominees, Linda Schwartz and Joan Davis, to win the presidency.

***


CONGRATULATIONS to the MDJ’s Katie Berry and husband, Jamie, on the birth of their son, James Dodd Berry, on March 3. Katie is a sales exec in the MDJ’s Retail Advertising Department.

The proud grandparents are Mike and Janice Wilson and Jimmy and Kate Berry. James Dodd Berry also has a proud great-grandmother, Mary Wilson.

***


TICKETS are still available for Saturday’s “Southern Notables” celebrity luncheon at the Marietta Country Club to benefit the Cobb Symphony Orchestra, now in its 60th season. Among those taking part are CSO director Michael Alexander; Holly Chute, executive Chef at the Georgia’s Governor’s Mansion; “Dogtown” author Elyssa East; Johnnie Gabriel of Gabriel’s Restaurant and Bakery; gardening expert Mickey Gazaway of the “Pike’s Pick/Walter Reeves Show”; “Cracker Queen” author Lauretta Hannon; WSB meteorologist Karen Minton; “Southern Living” editor Lisa Mowry; Santa woodcarver Ron Ransom; DJ Greg Talmadge of “Atlanta’s Greatest Hits: 106.7”; Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Walker; and AT’s Joe Kirby.

***


GEORGIA Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb and Cobb District Attorney Pat Head are honorary hosts of the “Go Green for Green” fundraiser on Thursday for new Superior Court Judge Reuben Green of Marietta.

The event will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the law offices of Brock, Clay Calhoun & Rogers at 49 Atlanta St., Marietta.

Others on the host committee include Fred Bentley Jr., Tom Browning, Tom Cauthorn, Clem Doyle, Bill Dunaway, Dr. James Fleming, Rob Garcia, Ben Mathis, John Moore, Jim Rhoden, Heather Teilhet, Rose Wing and Diane Woods. Suggested contribution is $100.

Green’s only announced re-election opponent thus far is Nathan Wade.
Comments
(4)
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Cobb Alum
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March 15, 2011
Dr. Chandler, please withdraw your application and look elsewhere. You are not a good fit for KSU.
High Tide
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March 15, 2011
Wouldn't it be nice-I don't know about other GA cities, but Daytona Beach Shores now limits the height of buildings along the beach. Will that do?
Wouldn't it be nice
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March 15, 2011
Wouldn't it be a nice refreshing change of pace to see the Goldstein story reported on the basis of the issue involved rather than personalities. Like - how many communities in Georgia limit building heights in their downtowns? Has it worked? Is there evidence that this is a good idea? What can be done to encourage redevelopment of the former Cuthbertson building rather than make sure it remains a whole in the ground for years? What is the economic future of Marietta Square in light of this economy? What can the City do about it? But who cares about such mundane matters. A completely vacant boarded up Square would be an insignificant price to pay to "get" Philip. This is a man bites dog story - no sense muddling it up with the unimportant.
Anti-Goldstein
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March 15, 2011
Does anyone think that Goldstein actually wants to do anything good for Marietta? He is only doing this for his one selfish reasons, not that it will be good for Marietta. Maybe he would feel more at home being in politics in Chicago.
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