Olens played a key role in this year’s successful rewrite of the state’s Open Meetings/Open Records Act. So when he offered a tutorial, as it were, on the new law in Marietta on Thursday, empty seats were few.
The event took place in the Cobb Commissioners Meeting Room of the County Administration Building, where he had spent nearly a decade as commission chairman. About 100 elected officials and employees of the county and cities’ governments, as well as the two school boards and other government entities, attended the 90-minute presentation.
He reiterated that all votes by elected officials must be taken in public session, and that minutes of meetings must reflect who made and seconded a motion, as well as how individual members of the elected body voted on each motion.
Minutes now must also be kept of all meetings in executive — read closed-to-the-public — session.
As for what issues can be discussed in executive session, Olens stressed that the “personnel” exception refers to employees of the government entity and those it is interviewing. On open records requests, the three-day clock for responding begins the moment a request is in the hand of an employee of the entity. And it makes no excuse for “that person is on vacation.”
“My goal is for the public or the press to get the documents,” Olens said. He also urged government employees to call his office any time they aren’t sure what to do about an open records request or when to post public notice of an upcoming meeting.
“Don’t put yourself in trouble,” he said.
CONSIDERING IT WAS A “RED-EYE” 7:30 a.m. meeting, the county commissioners room was packed. The meeting was co-hosted by county Chairman Tim Lee and Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin. Others attending included county Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Woody Thompson; District Attorney Pat Head; Mayors Mark Mathews of Kennesaw and Pat Vaughn of Powder Springs; School Superintendents Dr. Michael Hinojosa of Cobb and Dr. Emily Lembeck of Marietta City; Probate Court Judge Kelli Wolk; and Cobb DOT Director Faye DiMassimo, to name just a few. Others included Cobb schools PR spokesman Jay Dillon and his Marietta counterpart Thomas Algarin, Marietta Councilmen Philip Goldstein, Jim King and Grif Chalfant, and Holly Comer of the YWCA.
Four of the seven Cobb School Board members were there, though they were clearly still stinging from Wednesday’s Round Two bout over the Harrison High School building project. On Thursday morning board Chairman Scott Sweeney sat all the way to one side of the room, while Alison Bartlett and Kathleen Angelucci sat together all the way on the other side of the room.
POLITICS: Cobb’s six mayors will co-host a fundraiser for Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee from 5-7 p.m. May 29 at the offices of The Bottoms Group on Cherokee Street in Marietta. Marietta’s Steve Tumlin, Acworth’s Tommy Allegood, Austell’s Joe Jerkins, Kennesaw’s Mark Mathews, Powder Springs’ Pat Vaughn and Smyrna’s Max Bacon will headline the event for Lee, who in contrast with some of his predecessors, has maintained generally positive relations with Cobb’s mayors and cities.
Other hosts for the event will be Gary and David Bottoms, Bob Kiser, Ron Francis, Doug Chaffins, Steve Tanner, Rick Hamilton, Greg Morgan and Jim Rhode. Cost for the hosts (by either donation or raising the amount) is $1,000, with the suggested contribution from others pegged at $100. … A “meet and greet” for Cobb District Attorney candidate Vic Reynolds will be from 4-6 p.m. May 20 at Sam Huff’s BBQ1 at 4944 Lower Roswell Road in Marietta. ... The Madison Forum will host commission chair candidate Mike Boyce at its Monday lunch meeting, reports group spokesman/congressional candidate Michael Opitz. The group meets at the Rib Ranch on Canton Road. … Cobb Superior Court judicial candidate Van Pearlberg and Cobb State Court judicial candidate Marsha Lake have both been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 13. ... The Cobb Democratic Party will host state Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna at its 2nd Saturday Breakfast this morning. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Piccadilly Cafeteria, 536 Cobb Parkway.
COBB EMC Chairman Ed Crowell and CEO Chip Nelson visited the MDJ this week for a roundtable interview. One rumor AT keeps hearing is that Pitts Carr, who represented the members who sued the electric membership cooperative in 2007, will replace Bob Silliman as the EMC’s corporate attorney. Carr has previously said that is not the case, and likewise, both Crowell and Nelson also insisted this week that they’ve not had any such discussions. On the issue of open board meetings, Crowell said that the idea is not off the table, but that doing so would give a few members “special access” at the expense of thousands of others. Read more in Sunday’s MDJ, and go to mdjonline.com on Sunday to see video clips of the interview.
LEGENDARY UGA running back Herschel Walker left a crowd of 150 or so Cobb business leaders hanging on every word on Tuesday when he was the star attraction at a luncheon at the Vinings Bank.
The former Bulldog and NFL star spoke for nearly an hour and seemingly posed for pictures with nearly everyone in the room. The multi-talented Walker, who now has switched to mixed martial arts, told the crowd his next fight — his third — will take place in November and hopefully in Atlanta. His opponent will be former MMA and NCAA wrestling champion Mark Coleman, he said, who at 47, is just three years younger than Walker.
Walker told the crowd he can still run a 4.3 second 40-yard dash but said there were only two NFL teams he’d be willing to suit up for — the Minnesota Vikings, whose fans he said “never really got to know me” because the coaches during his tenure there “didn’t like me”; and the Atlanta Falcons, “because this is home.”
Walker’s phone doesn’t seem to be ringing off the hook, but it’s hard to see why not.
IN THE CROWD for the lunch were U.S. District Court Judge Tom Thrash of Vinings and former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden (D-Marietta), Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise Jr., Georgia Adjutant Gen. Jim Butterworth, former Cobb Commissioner Thea Powell, former Cobb school board member Dr. John Crooks, attorneys Nathan Wade and John Skelton, insurance exec T.W. Lord and Marietta Museum of History director Dan Cox, who departed early from that morning’s History board meeting in order to hear Herschel and who was sporting a pair of “dress suspenders.” Others in the crowd included newlywed John Strother, 98, and his bride Katherine Hamilton, 83.
Also on hand and sharing a table were Cobb Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa and his predecessor, retired Super Fred Sanderson (who like Walker, is a former member of “Dooley’s Dawgs”). It was a rare public sighting for Sanderson, who has let his once close-cropped hair (or what’s left of it) grow long and frizzy.
“Fred looks like he just walked in off the beach,” quipped an onlooker.
PEOPLE: Marietta native David Hamilton, former associate publisher of “Details” magazine and former publisher of Andy Warhol’s “Interview” magazine, is now chief revenue officer at NYC-based “Tasting Table,” a daily epicurean email publication. Hamilton is the son of retired dentist Dr. Reuel Hamilton and his wife, Virginia.
“Virginia and I soon plan to visit at the Lakeville, Conn., country home of David and his spouse, Adam DiPaolo,” Dr. Hamilton emailed Around Town. …
There’s a new director of Pastoral Care at WellStar Health Systems — Renee Owen. An ordained Baptist minister, she succeeds longtime director Phil Owens (no relation), who retired this spring.
MAYES WARD DOBBINS Funeral Home in Marietta will cut the ribbon at 11 a.m. May 21 on its new Macland Chapel at 3940 Macland Road, reports director Terry Pendley.
DON’T MISS today’s continuation of the Smoke on the Lake BBQ Festival, which started yesterday at Cauble Park along Lake Acworth and ends at 4 p.m. The free event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of North Cobb and features 25 teams of barbecuers as well as the Sons of Sailors, a Jimmy Buffett cover band, reports the Rotary’s Peter Jezerinac. For more, go to www.smokeonthelake.org. ...
And speaking of tasty food, crews from The Travel Channel will be on Marietta Square on Tuesday filming at Paul’s Pot Pies on Mill Street, owned by longtime Traveling Fare chef Paul Lubertazzi.