Activist not happy with settlement with Smyrna
by Noreen Cochran
October 22, 2012 12:53 AM | 3653 views | 31 31 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mary Kirkendoll flips through some of the information she has kept about local projects and notes from city council meetings that she has attended, outside of her home in Smyrna. <br> Photo by Emily Barnes
Mary Kirkendoll flips through some of the information she has kept about local projects and notes from city council meetings that she has attended, outside of her home in Smyrna.
Photo by Emily Barnes
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SMYRNA — Smyrna resident and community activist Mary Kirkendoll said she is not satisfied by the $85,000 settlement in her lawsuit against the city and Mayor Max Bacon.

“The cronyism in the city of Smyrna will continue,” Kirkendoll said. “It is unfortunate for the citizens and taxpayers. Smyrna spent countless dollars trying to fight me instead of just doing the right thing. The right thing would have been to admit they conspired to silence me.”

The lawsuit alleged that the city violated Kirkendoll’s First and Fourth Amendment rights in 2009 when she was arrested at a town hall meeting after the then-52-year-old uttered an expletive. The city’s insurer, Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, paid the settlement.

She said she was ready for her day in court to fight, among other allegations, a police statement alleging she was under the influence of alcohol.

“Unfortunately, after three long years, the attorneys decided the fate, not me,” she said.

Kirkendoll said she does not believe her legal victory has effected any change in how the city conducts business.

“The mayor, the officers and several city workers got off scot-free and would be willing to abuse another citizen’s rights, if they felt the citizen was a ‘hindrance,’” she said. “It should send chills though the spines of all Smyrna citizens.”

While Kirkendoll would not say how much she got from the settlement — attorneys generally collect half in lieu of billable hours and expenses — she said it does not improve her quality of life.

“I have lost much more on my Smyrna Heights house than what I received after the attorney was paid,” she said. “The amount I got after attorney and taxes is insignificant, really. If I could get any money out of my house, I would move. I would sure put the money toward moving. But until something changes around here, I’ve lost a good 25 to 35 percent of my house value and would be foolish to give my house away.”

While the settlement, which was announced Oct. 10, does not bar Kirkendoll from attending and speaking at City Council meetings and town halls, she said she would only go “if my camera is turned on and recording.”

Counts wrote in the lawsuit Kirkendoll has been actively speaking out on topics like immigration, criminal activity, home prices, quality of life issues and redevelopment.

“Kirkendoll has fervently sought to expose what she perceives to be corruption within the city and to heighten public awareness of what she believes is the city’s failure to address or remedy important social issues,” Counts said.

Smyrna city officials declined to comment for this report.

Comments
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Tony Cain
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October 24, 2012
I first met Mary at a SPLOST protest meeting, you know, the last one that passed by less than 100 votes.

Mary took time from her job, as I and others did, to try to stop this madness of government taking our money for more ridiculous projects.

Mary and I and the other citizens never made a penny from this and paid all our own expenses. Only a couple of self-appointed "leaders" who took up collections made a buck. Watch out for leaders in the public and private sector!

Mary stands a little over 5 feet tall. She is not a physical threat to anyone. Arrested at a public meeting and charged with being drunk and disorderly because she spoke out?

Come on, folks. If they can do it to Mary, they can do it to the rest of us. Thank her for fighting for our rights. People like Mary make government work better FOR WE THE PEOPLE.

JKjr.
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October 23, 2012
I you are unhappy with your settlement....why did you settle?
Pat H
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October 23, 2012
The message she delivers to Bacon and the Board was not untrue, but the method and delivery of that message seems to be irritating to some.

The arrest concerned with highlighting the invasion of illegal aliens in Smyrna's apartments. Consider the state of the elementary schools in Smyrna and the destruction of neighborhoods and their value are difficult to accept.

A simple tour of empty buildings and razed shopping centers would indicate to anyone that the present policies are not improving the area. It may be considered whining or criticism to some residents, but the reality is that density and apartments eventually attracts crime and lower school scores. Rental units are scarce in the best East Cobb school districts and the feeder schools for the Franklin Road area, such as Wheeler, have suffered lower scores and a hostile environment for students from stable East Cobb areas.

The Bacon(s) dynasty are responsible for both the approval and destruction of low rent apartments.

Insofar as the First Amendment is concerned, it is first in importance to protect those citizens who illustrate problems and perceived failings of government officials. You may disagree with either the message or method, but you need to honor the right of all of us to exercise our right.

I believe thousands of illegal aliens marching and demanding rights they are not entitled to have while burdening the taxpayers with benefits which should be reserved for citizens to be much more offensive. They do have the right to complain; however, far too many remain silent on this issue.
Ms. KookyDoll
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October 23, 2012
MK:

Exactly how much did you and your lawyer make from YOUR settlement?

Exactly how much of this did you donate to a worthy cause?

Until you show some transparency - you have no business criticizing anyone and I'd suggest everyone just ignore your comments.
Socialism Erupts
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October 23, 2012
Exactly how much did Croy Engineering contribute to a worthy cause from the millions of SPLOST funds?

Who decides what is a worthy cause anyway? Is a contribution to MUST to support a van delivering free food to illegals worthy?
mary kirkendoll
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October 23, 2012
I owe you absolutely nothing, my dear! By the comment you have made, you are clearly the KOOK!

( but knowing exactly who you are, it is you and your husbands simplemindedness that is helping to hold Smyrna in the dark ages)
mary kirkendoll
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October 23, 2012
No-one in Smyrna Heights should be content w/ the poor conditions here! And there is no excuse! The Concord Road mess has destroyed any hope of quality development, or anything positive coming into the area! The city picks winners and losers,.. just like the Obama administration.

Why would any small business locate to Smyrna, the way they're treated?

The gentleman's car wash on South Cobb Drive , as example- here's a bungalow, turned car wash along a struggling rundown part of town, flanked by empty stores, fast food resturants and the Smyrna Heights neighborhood. So he paints his business a very nice deep blue and code enforcement and the city harrassed him, made him repaint his business a beige color and actually took him to court & fined him 50 dollars! Concord Road sits virtually deserted because the city bought the small businesses all out (or TOOK them), razed the properties, so now we have another desolate, deserted area in Smyrna.

If the city had put a few million in trees, paths, landscaping and store front grants, this might have ENCOURAGED businesses and resturants to LOCATE to the Concord Road Corridor. But it's not about helping the cities image or citizens,.. it's all about a SLUSH fund to dole out this 20 million to friends and cronies!!!

You can't DICTATE to every person and business in your city how they must abide by your strict, uniform set of RULES, and then expect entrepanuers , businesses and young folks to flock to your city!

You want a city where everything looks the same, where noone is allowed free expression, where there's no signs of life, no art, no style, no new money, no innovation, no fresh ideas? Treat them w/ your heavy boot on their neck like you do mayor, and you get exactly what you asked for,.. a dead city that businesses steer clear of!
Concord85
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October 23, 2012
Just wondering why Max Bacon won his reelection with 75% of the votes. I guess 75% of the voters like what he is doing or couldn't find someone else who could do better?
mk- to concord 85
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October 23, 2012
The answer to why Max has been mayor 30 years,... apathy, cronyism, his daddy & absolute power! Look around your city,.. people don't get involved, don't question authority, nothing ever changes or progresses. Because of this, Smyrna will remain poor and unable to attract quality businesses.

Max is King!
Mickey Mouse
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October 24, 2012
Max Bacon won a majority of a very, very low voter turn out. That is how he won.

If a few more percentage points of voters had bothered to go to the polls, Max would be out
@ just wondering
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October 22, 2012
You asked where Smyrna Heights is. It is the '50's ranch homes north and south of Concord Road, between South Cobb Drive and Atlanta Road. West Smyrna Heights are the brick ranch homes west of South Cobb Drive. It could be attractive to young married couples and singles, but unfortunately, the city has been careless and allowed the area surrounding this neighborhood of 400 or more homes to become rundown and unattractive. The neighborhood elementary school is closing this year which will further turn away young families. There are no signs of development coming this way and no attempt by the city to freshen up the aging strip centers or Toleson Park, for that matter.

My daughter lived in the home I owned there for a while, but considered her option to buy from her mother and took a different route, moving to the Oakhurst area of Dekalb County, close to her job at the CDC. The home is now a rental, like most others in the area are going.

I'm not sure what the city could do but it does seem altogether neglected by the city leaders. There is an abundance of low priced homes selling to investors which will add more to Smyrnas higher rent to owner occupied ratio.

Not good for the neighborhood nor the city as a whole.

Dora I.
Grandson of Flubber
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October 22, 2012
MDJ quotes Ms. Kirkendoll as saying: “Unfortunately, after three long years, the attorneys decided the fate, not me." This statement is quite remarkable given that a lawyer cannot settle a case without the consent of the client.

Be Careful
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October 22, 2012
The same thing happens in Kennesaw. The city government is corrupt and moral in City Hall is horrible. Yet, any citizen who tries to speak up is instantly labeled a nutcase or a trouble maker and told "they don't understand" how things work.

Small town elected officials think they are "big men on campus" and abuse their power accordingly.

Here in Kennesaw, the mayor and 2 council members couldn't drag themselves off the golf course in time for a city council meeting.

It's disgraceful and I hope citizens finally wake up and vote them out of office.
Amy Barnes
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October 22, 2012
Activists like Ms. Kirkendoll are actually doing work for the benefit of the public - at no pay. When so-called "troublemakers" are targeted for elimination or ejection from a meeting, it should be a signal for others that the administration is hiding something.

And yes - let's follow the money trail, shall we? Look AT Smyrna - and run a comparison financial analysis of Return on Investment paired with actual spending - and AT the rest of the Metro ATL area. You will see numbers that the administration does NOT want others to see.

The Kirkendols of this world are desperately needed - their speech point the way for angry taxpayers to claw back some of the value being stolen from their lives via wrongful spending. It's starting with the banks (gasp! not our *revered* financiers!) and the cat-fight is spreading through to Small Town Administration.. All it takes is just *ONE* mouthy person, *ONE* detailed mind, and the whole house of cards comes flying down. That, my friends, is what Mr. Bacon is seeking - to keep his fragile situation afloat. Because? People are losing their MONEY, and they are ANGRY.

About that intersection - HAS anyone checked to see if Mrs. Kirkendol was correct?
bloodsucker
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October 23, 2012
Ha! Nice blog, 'Amy Barnes.' (aka...Cynthia Counts!!) Trust me, I've met Amy Barnes and she couldn't write her way out of a wet paper bag, let alone use correct grammar. Cynthia Counts is just foaming at the mouth, ready to latch onto her next foul-mouthed client. And am I the only one to notice that this article by Noreen Cochran doesn't event mention the attorney's first name? Simply refers to her as 'Counts'. Is that kinda like Madonna and Cher? This ambulance chaser-style attorney is already void of a first name? Shameful.
Joyce M
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October 22, 2012
Activist?

Snort.
no real surprise
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October 22, 2012
...that Mary Kirkendoll and her ilk are seldom happy about anything...unlkess they are being a Royal Pain!
mk- the truth
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October 22, 2012
Look, I was walking OUT of a townhall meeting. An undercover cop came up from behind and grabbed me! At that time, I should have been allowed to leave the meeting.

Instead, I was to be taught whose BOSS in Smyrna and was hauled off to jail! To justify my arrest, the police wrote that I smelled like alcohol on my breath and person, on the police report.

Oops, tho', one minor detail,.. they forgot to inform me, or ask for a breathalyzer, before they handed me my keys and watched me drive off!

Before the meeting started, I was told by city employee, Jennifer Bennet, to 'sit down' or she would have me personally 'escourted' out of the meeting!

The fix was in!

If this isn't a strongarm, bullying, dishonest government,.. I don't know what is!
Proud Smyrnian
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October 22, 2012
Smyrna just buy her house at whatever price and get her out of our great City. What a dreary lady that has nothing positive to say, but instead complain, complain, complain. We have a great city with a vibrant future and I am so proud to live here.
mk--only if..
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October 22, 2012
...you are a city employee and/or benefactor of citizens taxes,.. used to make city employees life quite 'cushy'!

Driven through Smyrna Heights lately??

How 'bout all the rundown townhomes and neighborhoods off Spring Road and along Village Parkway! Have you seen the rundown conditions along Windy Hill, South Cobb and Concord??

It's a disgrace, the conditions of Smyrnas neighborhoods!

And whose idea was it to turn the front of city hall into a circus,.. w/ all the horrible lights?

Does the mayor think if the city is flooded w/ lights,.. it will make it look alive??

What a waste!!

just wondering
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October 22, 2012
what part of smyrna is Smyrna Heights located??
Saying Coo=Coo
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November 10, 2012
mk equals "coo-coo." mk equals "obsessed." mk equals "needs to move and pick on another city." mk needs to get a life.
WeNeedMoreLikeHer
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October 22, 2012
Mayor Max Bacon had Kirkendoll arrested to silence her. Boy did that bite him in the butt. Cost him some money too. We need more Kirkendoll's in Smyrna and in every city. Government oversight. Especially in Georgia. Corruption and cronyism is systemic.
Coo Coo
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November 10, 2012
Clarification: Mayor Max Bacon was not there when Kirkendoll was arrested. I guess he had the crystal ball there in his place. You cannot blame a city official for the fallen price on your house. If that were so, all of America can blame every city official there is. We ALL have fallen prices. Not just Mary Kook.
East Atlanta
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October 22, 2012
Maybe East Atlanta would be a good place to live? They are pratically giving away houses down there, and it's a short Marta ride to Decatur or downtown.

Ahh, but like Smyrna, East Atlanta is not perfect. Nor is Decatur. Neither is downtown.

Nowhere is perfect, no matter how much greener the grass may look.

If one is bound and determined to be unhappy in life, that life can definately be lived in Smyrna.

When Smyrna has everything you need to be unhappy, why move?
Spot On
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November 10, 2012
EXACTLY. RIGHT ON. Mary Coo-coo is coo-coo wherever she moves. Smyrna just happens to be place that has to put up with her.
mk- no comment...
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October 22, 2012
,,,from the city,... EVER! The city of Smyrna is simply not involved w/ its citizens. They just use them as a cash cow to feed their spending habits.

It's really ashame to see no businesses & basically no quality of life in Smyrna.

After spending the day biking along the Atlanta Beltline, there is a STARK difference!

The lofts, the gardens, the architecture the office buildings, the artwork, the eateries, the neighborhoods, the shops and patios ,..all mesh to make a complete community.

And then to top the day off, spending an evening in VIBRANT Roswell, as the city streets are flooded w/ people enjoying the vibes, the music and the food,.. it really makes it hard to come home to city that is as dead as a doornail at 10 p.m. on a Saturday nite!

We have a city that thinks quality development for its citizens is a GAS STATION!
Smyrna Guy
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October 22, 2012
MK,

You are way too dramatic and it is getting very old. It must be tough to be mad at the world all the time. Life is tough for all of us and no place is perfect.

I am not sure what involvment you are looking for from the elected officials but if you want the mayor and council to fawn over you and get involved in your daily life, that is your business. Maybe it is time for you to grow up a become a big girl and try to find your own happiness. You are pulling down the rest of us.

Off The Rocker
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November 10, 2012
Lady, you are off your rocker. This bliss you describe in Roswell that is not in Smyrna -- take a short bike ride off the city square and you will see run down apartments, immigrant filled houses, etc. You are simply off your rocker and you hate Smyrna for some reason. Roswell has more immigrant, crime, and low rent districts that Smyrna can ever imagine in its worst nightmares. Did Max Bacon spurn you as a girlfriend? I am beginning to think so.
VFP42
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October 22, 2012
Wait, the lawsuit was something to do with the loss of value on her house? MDJ previously reported it had something to do with her running her mouth to the displeasure of the local gun toters. Which is it?

Everybody with a house lost value on their house.

If she's figured out a way for that the be the local government's fault, let us know!!!!
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