Goldstein, power rates and chickens: Mayor Tumlin — Surveys the city
by Dick Yarbrough
Columnist
December 01, 2012 12:02 AM | 1259 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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I went to see Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin this week with a complaint. One should always be careful when complaining to a guy who is several inches taller than you, who answers to the name “Thunder” and who has the police on speed-dial. I knew the risk I was taking.

Anyway, I thought he should know that since he became mayor, he has taken a lot of controversy out of city council meetings and that makes my job much more difficult. I hate difficult jobs.

I made my case to the mayor over shrimp and grits at Willy Rae’s on the Square. As I was doing so, workers were putting finishing touches on the Christmas tree in Glover Park that he and his grandkids would light that evening after special music and a visit from Santa Claus. The sun was shining. Kids were playing in the park, most of the parking spaces were filled with holiday shoppers going in and out of the stores and restaurants and everybody seemed to be having a great time. Rats. I have to time my complaints better in the future.

Turning serious, I asked him why the decibel level seems to have lowered since he took office.

“The council and I still have our disagreements,” the mayor said, “but I think we have a mutual respect for each other. I am not much for arm-twisting. I try to be more businesslike in my dealings with the council.”

Does that include Councilman Philip Goldstein?

“Philip and I are having a truce right now. It has been at least four hours,” he smiled. He was kidding. (I think.)

Mayor Tumlin seems to have gotten some of the histrionics out of the brouhaha over widening Roswell Street in front of Roswell Street Baptist Church. With former Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher mediating the dispute, the mayor seemed encouraged and chalked some of the previous problems up to a lack of communications.

One of the city’s key initiatives is the 20-20 committee, headed up by local businessman Kee Carlisle.

“The group started out to study the parking situation in downtown but have been given pretty much carte blanche to recommend whatever they choose to look at and see where we would like the city to be in 2020,” Tumlin says.

He is also pleased with the results of the health clinic for employees and dependents which he estimates has brought savings of over $500,000 since April 2011 due to employees visiting the clinic instead of private doctors.

What is the issue that most concerns him today? The Marietta Board of Lights Water will bring its recommendations before the council on Dec. 10 and will likely recommend a price hike of maybe “four to five percent” because of the utility’s suppliers passing along their increased costs to the city.

“We are not talking about adding people or buying trucks,” he says, “it is purely the increased cost from the providers. Some cities automatically pass along the utility increases. Marietta does not. We will discuss it in a transparent manner.”

Tumlin clearly is not happy with the prospects of raising rates, but it seems inevitable.

I had hoped the mayor would tell me that he and the council were going to allow chickens their constitutional rights to live anywhere they chose in Marietta as a couple of citizens had requested recently. Alas, that is not to be the case.

“I must tell you,” Thunder Tumlin said, “Chickens in the yard is not a priority with the city of Marietta now or in the future.”

The guy is just no fun.

I get amused when people grump about Marietta’s “problems.” When they do, I suggest they visit my hometown of East Point. There, parking is no problem because there is nothing there, except a dysfunctional city government. There is no First Friday Art Walk, no weekend farmers market, no Earl Smith Strand Theater, no square for kids to play in, no art galleries, nobody strolling the town at night, no 20-20 committee looking at the future of the city and no local newspaper to see that they get it right.

Ironically, Reggie Taylor, the former executive director of the Marietta Redevelopment Corporation, is leaving to become city manager of East Point. Wish him luck. He is going to need it.

As for Thunder Tumlin, will he run for mayor again when this term is up? He says he will let us know early next year. I’m betting the answer is yes. Who wouldn’t want another four years of dealing with Philip Goldstein, constitutionally-challenged chickens and a modest and much-beloved columnist ready to provide advice and counsel at the drop of an egg?

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
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