It was front-page news last week when the MDJ reported that Public Service Commission member Wise was the favored candidate to succeed embattled former EMC chief Dwight Brown. Wise, a former insurance agent who served a term on the Cobb Board of Commissioners representing east Cobb, is generally seen as a pro-utility member of the PSC board, which regulates Georgia’s public utilities (although not its electric power co-ops). Wise also was said to be Brown’s favored candidate for the Cobb job.
But Wise said via a statement emailed to the MDJ at lunchtime Monday via spokesman Shawn Davis that he was no longer a candidate.
“In recent days there has been much speculation over my possible candidacy for Chief Executive Officer of Cobb EMC,” Wise said. “I am not a candidate for CEO of Cobb EMC. The next CEO faces tremendous challenges, but I am convinced the organization’s leadership and dedicated employees are capable of restoring public confidence.”
WORD that the EMC board had decided to hire Nelson came from public relations VP Sam Kelly at 5:45 Monday afternoon. EMC board meetings are not open to the public.
Wise’s decision to withdraw prompted two schools of thought late Monday among EMC-watchers.
The first was that the board probably would have hired him had the MDJ not “spilled the beans” on the candidacy last week, a story that prompted a surge of comments — mostly negative — around town and on MDJonline.com.
The second was that the board, having unofficially decided over the weekend that Wise was too “hot” to hire, tipped him off in time for him to gracefully bow out before the actual vote.
Some EMC-watchers had suggested that hiring Wise — a close friend of Brown — might continue to fuel the controversy that has plagued the co-op for the past several years, and said a clean break from the past would be preferred. They also wondered why Wise would take the job when it was unclear how much longer the current board would be in place. Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster is expected at some point this summer to order new elections for the board, which now are three years overdue as a result of a lawsuit brought by EMC members against the utility board.
Meanwhile, Brown was reindicted by a unanimous Cobb grand jury on Thursday on 35 felony criminal counts, accusing him of a pattern of racketeering activity designed to “acquire and maintain interests” in EMC spinoff Cobb Energy “consisting of preferred and common stock, control of the Cobb EMC and Cobb Energy, and personal property, including U.S. currency.” The indictment also alleges theft of meter-reading fees and says he conspired to defraud the Cobb government and Cobb school district.
Incidentally, most, if not all of the charges say Brown acted “in concert” with the directors of the Cobb EMC. None of those 10 directors have been charged, although one legal source told Around Town last week the directors now can be considered “unindicted co-conspirators.”
On the other hand, one source sympathetic to the Cobb EMC leadership complained to AT that after Brown was re-indicted, the district attorney “issued an all-points bulletin and six police officers pulled Mr. Brown over while he was driving Thursday evening.”
The source insisted it was a “deliberate attempt by District Attorney Pat Head to be vindictive because the first indictment was thrown out.”
“That’s absolutely a falsehood, and whoever said it obviously doesn’t know anything about anything,” Head said. “I have never issued a bulletin. Mr. Brown was treated like anybody else, and he happened to be pulled over in his truck.”
Brown’s jail book-in lists his place of arrest as Roswell and Fairground streets in Marietta.
COMMUNITY LEADERS will host an appreciation event for ailing Marietta businessman and civic leader Winston Strickland on July 23 in front of his restaurant, “Strick’s” on Hunt Street. The street will be closed for the 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. event, which is open to the public.
Cartersville resident Strickland, who is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, has been a leader of Marietta’s African-American community for the past four decades.
“He was one of people that worked for the public good as well as anyone I’ve ever known,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin. “Take 25 or 30 years ago, when diversity was more of a challenge. He was a good liaison between different types of people. Brought people together from different backgrounds and he did it with a smile, without making threats. He had a good social awareness.”
His eatery has been a favorite of local politicos and others for years.
“You get good food and good information, if you wanted to know what was going on,” Tumlin said. “You’d find people from all walks of life, from someone who works on their hands and knees to a Supreme Court member (most likely Strickland’s old friend from Cartersville, Justice Robert Benham) to the governor. It’s a great ‘meat and three’-type place, and you can even get fish for breakfast.”
The event is being coordinated by All State Insurance agent Don Johnson of east Cobb and security system company president Clarence Pennie of MG Systems Inc. Strickland plans to pass his restaurant’s torch (so to speak) to Johnson’s stepson, Jamal Pattillo, a professionally trained chef.
“There’s a lot in the Bible about leadership, and he exemplifies the ‘servant leader,’” Johnson said. “We don’t use that title lightly. He’s passionate about young and senior citizens and the underrepresented population. He will leverage his contacts to help those people that cannot help themselves. And he does it without any fanfare or recognition. He works well with the faith community. He’s touched people in many sectors.”
A tent will be set up in Hunt Street for the event and hamburgers and hot dogs will be served, but there will be no formal program.
“He’s a humble person, so there won’t be any speeches or ceremonies,” Tumlin said. “It’s just a quiet way to break bread with him one last time.”
MARIETTA attorney Rebecca Keaton on Monday officially announced her candidacy for Clerk of Cobb Superior Court. Saturday’s Around Town reported that she had expressed interest in running for the job.
Longtime incumbent Jay Stephenson announced last week he will retire when his current term expires next December. Former Cobb GOP chairman Scott Johnson has agreed to chair Keaton’s campaign.
Birmingham, Ala., native Keaton has a business degree from Birmingham-Southern College and earned her law degree from John Marshall School of Law in Atlanta. She’s been a member of the Georgia Bar since 1994 and is a former assistant Cobb solicitor.
Keaton is founder and director of The Keaton Foundation, a non-profit created to assist older orphans and special-needs children find families of their own. She also serves on the board of Right in the Community, a non-profit organization that assists families of children with disabilities.
Keaton and husband, Darrin, have been married for 11 years and live in Kennesaw with their children Michael, Isabella and Elijah.
AFTER BEING SWORN in Monday as Cobb’s new school superintendent, Dr. Michael Hinojosa said things are already off to a good start:
“These transitional periods are difficult for everyone. My wife will be here next week to help me pick out a place to live. Mamma makes those kinds of decisions. She did want me to tell you that when she married me, I was handsome
“But being a superintendent takes its toll, and sometimes you get beat down a little bit. …
“I love my job, despite the challenges and pressures there might be in this job, being a super is a great job. I’ve had a great time. Every job I’ve ever had has been the best job I’ve ever had, and none of them started that way, except for Cobb.
“We already got so many good things going for us, that it’s going to be a much better start than what I’ve had in other places.”