Around Town: This and that
by Bill Kinney and Joe Kirby
Around Town columnists
November 20, 2012 01:19 AM | 5302 views | 6 6 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHAT ELECTION? Former Cobb Commission Chair candidate Bill Byrne sounds like he’s back on the campaign trail, a scant four months after being defeated by incumbent Chairman Tim Lee in his quest to regain the seat he gave up a decade ago.

Byrne fired off an email to the MDJ over the weekend complaining that the newspaper and the Cobb Republican Party are “ignoring” several important issues. Byrne also sent the email to Cobb GOP Chair Joe Dendy and to Michael Opitz, head of the Madison Forum, a local tea party-type group.

Byrne complained that even though the TSPLOST was shot down by a two-to-one margin by Cobb voters in July, Lee is already thinking about a Cobb transportation SPLOST.

“The transit study (Alternative Analysis) is now complete and the $3 million Environmental Study is continuing, both requirements of the Federal Transit Authority and the response from Tim Lee was, ‘maybe we will propose our own SPLOST program to fund construction’ and not a single Commissioner responded at the time,” Byrne writes.

Byrne also predicted the county is looking at a tax increase to balance the budget.

“The 2013 budget passed by the Board of Commissioners last summer was never in balance and now a tax increase is needed to fix the problem,” he said. “I have estimated a need for $18 million to fix the problem. With the Federal Government in turmoil and the projections of increased federal taxes and a continued down-turn in the national economy, leadership and budget understanding is needed now more than ever. Are there any Conservative Republicans that care anymore? Where is the Tea Party?”

Byrne also reiterated the need for salary hikes for Cobb public safety employees to keep them from seeking jobs elsewhere.

“Leadership is needed now, more than ever, and the five member Board of Commissioners have been silent.”

For the record, the next election for Cobb Commission chairman is not until 2016.

MDJ columnist Dick Yarbrough put his spin on current events when addressing the Cobb Bar Association on Thursday. Referring to the feuding between retiring Cobb Superior Court Clerk Jay Stephenson and Clerk-elect Rebecca Keaton, he noted that columnists, like attorneys, are expected to do pro bono work.

“My project is to get Jay Stephenson and Rebecca Keaton together at the courthouse where we will hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya,’” he told the group.

Stephenson, who was in the crowd, reportedly told Yarbrough afterward that he enjoyed the joke.

Yarbrough also pointed out that he had not been the group’s first choice as speaker that day.

“They had actually invited former CIA Director David Petraeus, but he had to cancel at the last minute, saying he just realized he was involved in another affair,” he told Around Town. “That one elicited a major groan from the crowd.”

JOHN BOEHNER was re-elected House Speaker by his fellow House Republicans last week, but his nomination was not unanimous. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert offered up the name of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, formerly of east Cobb, but could not get a second. There is no requirement that the House speaker be a member of Congress.

“I just felt like it was time to change business as usual,” Gohmert said afterward.

THE MARIETTA TROLLEY CO. marked a milestone on Thursday when it made the final payment on its first trolley, the “Uncle Ruban.”

“I remember wondering back then if I’d ever see this day,” co-owner (with husband Brian) Cassandra Buckalew told Around Town. “I remember the weeks of our first employee, Charlie Webb, driving me around town before we opened trying to get the route right and all the little lessons I learned just riding around listening to him. It was like driving Miss Daisy, but in a trolley.

“It was an exciting and terrifying time. The ‘what ifs’ could eat you alive if you let them. I had never run a company before, managed a staff, and couldn’t even drive the trolley. I’m so grateful.”

THE FRIENDS OF BRUMBY HALL elected John Powers as president, Lonnie Love as VP, Dot Hindman as treasurer and Angie Green as secretary at their annual meeting Oct. 22. Two new members were welcomed to the board, Donna DeMarino and Jerome Garrison.

MARIETTA school Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck has been selected as Citizen of the Year by the Chi Gamma Gamma Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. The fraternity of college educated men, with a mission of community service, has been anchored in Cobb for two and a half decades.

Dr. Lembeck was recognized during the chapter’s annual Achievement Week Banquet on Sunday at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel.

“Dr. Lembeck has created an organization focused upon teacher performance and student achievement. Her work to create a climate wherein schools work better for more students is commendable,” said Dr. Joseph Sessum, former professor of mathematics at KSU and chairman of the chapter’s scholarship committee.

PUGNACIOUS POWELL: Thea Powell, who butted plenty of heads during her years on the county commission and the Development Authority of Cobb County, now is a member of the Cobb Schools’ Facilities and Technology Committee, which is tasked with overseeing SPLOST-related projects. And last week Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa got a taste of the Powell “medicine” she previously shared with the likes of Commission Chairmen Tim Lee and Earl Smith and Development Authority head Don Wix.

The Super at the Nov. 5 committee meeting was discussing the proposed career academies that would be funded by SPLOST IV, but his answers were not going down well. Interjected Powell: “I’ve sat through the (Cobb School Board) meeting and I feel like I’m reliving the day that Nancy Pelosi got up and she said, ‘You have to vote for the healthcare bill so you can find out what’s in it.’ I feel like that that’s what I’m being asked to do and as a voter I feel that way also because we can’t get any straight answers.

“We’ve asked lots of questions in the past and we’ve been told that the career academy is modeled after one in Brunswick and I asked how many students, but nobody could answer that. To me, that’s a basic question. You’re building 95,000 square feet of space. What is your expectation as to how many students you can teach? There’s gotta be a rationale,” she said.

Hinojosa tried to interrupt Powell to answer the question about enrollment, eventually saying, “I guess you don’t want me to answer the question?” to which she replied, “No.”

However, she eventually relented, and Hinojosa said the school would be somewhat equivalent to the size of an elementary school and could house about 1,000 students.

The district has said they’re hesitant to give exact figures regarding any projects, for example where to put a replacement elementary school in east Cobb or what pathways a career academy might entail, because they don’t want to be tied down by the resolution. For instance, if in seven years when the district decided to build a replacement school and growth wasn’t at Powers Ferry Elementary but they said that’s the school they should replace in SPLOST IV, the law requires the district to do so.

NEW Cobb Superior Court Judge Rob Leonard will be sworn in at 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26 at the state capital in Atlanta.

At age 38, Leonard will also be the youngest sitting judge on the Superior Court bench. Judge Reuben Green is next youngest at 41.

AROUND TOWN will be enjoying the holiday weekend on Saturday, but will return next week. To all our readers, the warmest of Thankgsiving greetings!

Comments
(6)
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Few days late
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November 21, 2012
Too bad Byrne could not have read todays paper about the 15 million before he wrote his letter. I know Byrne said 18 million is needed to balance the budget, but when you add the transit study (Alternative Analysis)and the $3 million Environmental Study back into the budget, that gives the 18 million plus needed if you keep things the same.

If you want a little padding, get rid of Hankerson, who should have known this, coupled with eliminating the Magistrate Court that has a clerk of court that should be in the State Court like all the other Magistrate Court functions, and that would give you another 5 million plus. Cobb is still, "Sitting on high cotton", that's why Hankerson wont leave.
Mairzy Doats
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November 20, 2012
If Powell does not get the basic concept that some leeway needs to be allowed for due to changing demographics in the next several years then why in the world is she in this starchamber? She and her ilk would be the first to complain if a school was built where it might not be needed several years from now. And if it is made of of people who don't have a clue, why does this committee even exist? We elected the board to make decisions and don't need any wannabe political hacks doing it for them. Disband this joke - now!
BO 12
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November 22, 2012
Thea and her kind need to live out the rest of their lives sitting in a rocking chair. She is a has-been and still makes stupid comments for petty attention. Move her on out. Speaking of making stupid comments for attention, move private Ott on out as well.
anonymous
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November 20, 2012
Pugnacious is an understatement for Powell's belligerent attitude...

Powell - “I feel that way also because we can’t get any straight answers.”

Hinojosa - “I guess you don’t want me to answer the question?”

Powell - “No.”
Watcher...
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November 20, 2012
I don't blame Ms. Powell for her tough questions of Dr. Hinojosa!

She generally has fair, tough questions and better ideas/solutions than most people I know.

why jump on Byrne?
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November 20, 2012
Why jump all over Byrne? He is a citizen and has the right to express his opinions. And frankly, I am more interested in hearing his ideas than Lee's which usually mean he wants more of our money. He, Mike Boyce or Larry Savage, would have been able to serve us better than Lee.
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