Around Town: City Surprise — Tumlin makes change on BLW board
by Bill Kinney & Joe Kirby
January 05, 2013 12:00 AM | 5142 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
IN A SURPRISE MOVE, Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin has named Ward 3 Councilman Johnny Sinclair to represent the Council on the Marietta Board of Lights and Water. Sinclair will succeed Ward 6 Councilman Jim King, who has served on the BLW for the past decade after being appointed by then-Mayor Bill Dunaway in 2001.

“It is true that Councilman King did and does an extraordinary job on the BLW, but my goal was to allow more councilmen to participate in a hands-on way so as to strengthen the council’s overall understanding of this enterprise that affects all of our citizens,” Tumlin told Around Town Friday.

Tumlin also announced the appointment of newly elected Councilman Andy Morris of Ward 4 as mayor pro tempore (i.e., vice mayor), and Ward 1 Councilwoman Annette Lewis as presiding officer. Those two jobs were held last year by Ward 2’s Grif Chalfant and Ward 7’s Philip Goldstein, respectively.

Marietta operates under a “weak mayor, strong council” form of government, with the mayor able to vote only in case of a tie or to cast a veto. The ability to make appointments is one of the few concrete ways by which the mayor can exercise his power. The changes will be officially announced at Wednesday’s first council meeting of the year. That’s when the city’s mayors usually announce a reshuffling of council committee chairmanships — but not this year.

“The yearly rotation among members at these positions is a commitment that I think gives more the opportunity to participate and contribute,” the mayor said. “(But) the committee chairmen are not being rotated because our council and the committee chairmen do an extraordinary job in allowing all eight of us to have input. Though structured as three-person committees, the interaction by everyone is something that is extraordinarily successful and inclusive. Therefore, with full involvement, there is no apparent reason to change.”

COBB COMMISSION CHAIRMAN TIM LEE plans to provide details on the county’s financial future when he delivers the annual “State of the County” speech on Jan. 14. It will be the program of the Chamber’s First Monday Breakfast, even though Jan. 14 is the second Monday of the month. The event is at the Cobb Galleria Centre, and begins at 7:30 a.m. General admission is $60.

MAYOR TUMLIN will unveil his annual State of the City Address at the noon Feb. 4 meeting of the Marietta Metro Kiwanis Club at First United Methodist Church in Marietta. Cost to attend is $20 and reservations are required. Call Roy Vanderslice at (770) 974-3482 or Bob Binkley at (404) 797-5901.

The venue will be a first for the talk. The annual reports began with Mayor Joe Mack Wilson in the early 1990s, and he and successors Ansley Meaders, Bill Dunaway and, till now Tumlin, have delivered them at meetings of the Marietta Kiwanis Club, Marietta Rotary Club or the Marietta chapter of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

“I have had the privilege of speaking at the Marietta Kiwanis, Chamber and Rotary and wanted to give a medium-sized club a shot, as all of our organizations are important to our city,” Tumlin told Around Town. “Not without coincidence, they meet at First United Methodist Church where our church’s food manager serves dynamite food.”

“As I contemplate a second run for mayor later this year, I like being in my church while I consider the next four years, notwithstanding the First Amendment. History, church, near the square, good friends in this club and love and appreciation of taking advantage of the different opportunities afforded us in this community lead me in accepting this club’s kind offer to speak.”

THE COBB GOP is holding its annual legislative breakfast this morning with many local and state legislators and legislators-elect expected to be on hand, according to Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy. The event starts at 7:45 a.m. at the Cobb GOP HQ at 799 Roswell St., Marietta. … U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), back from the “fiscal cliff” debacle in D.C., will be speaker at Tuesday’s Vinings Business Association luncheon at Social Vinings restaurant.

SICK BAY: Marietta Kiwanis Club stalwart Kent Gildersleeve has been moved to hospice care. ... Retired Cobb Superior Court Administrator Skip Cheshire spent the New Year’s holiday recovering from surgery needed to repair a torn quadriceps resulting from a fall earlier in the year. The procedure was performed by Marietta’s Dr. Stan Dysart with Pinnacle Orthopedics.

TURNING A NEW LEAF? The Cobb School District got an “A+” ranking on Friday for its public transparency from Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit government watchdog group.

The organization has analyzed more than 6,000 state and local government websites for ease of access to public information, grading each on a 10-point transparency checklist since 2008. The CSD website met all 10 of the group’s standards for accountability, including access to information regarding taxes, budgeting, meeting records and minutes, elected officials, contacts for administrators, contracts, audits, academic information, background checks and procedures for records requests. For more, go to,_Georgia.

Interestingly, the watchdog’s report comes against a backdrop of a decade during which the District’s superintendents and school board repeatedly thumbed their noses at the public when it came to transparency and accountability issues. In fact, as the MDJ reported, the board admitted that it had voted 55 times in executive session between 2007 and 2009 in obvious violation of the state’s Open Meetings and Open Records Act. And as recently as mid-2010 the board, in another violation of that law, failed to place on the agenda its plan to outsource a large number of the employee-dismissal tribunals that resulted from the system’s mass layoffs; was forced to admit that it reached a “general consensus” on the plan during an executive session; and was forced to admit that it had hired a deputy superintendent in secret in violation of the law. And amazingly, those 2010 actions took place barely a year after Senior Assistant Georgia Attorney General Stefan Ritter — in an extraordinary move — was brought in by then-Board Chair Dr. John Abraham to lecture the board on the requirements of the sunshine law.

So while the watchdog’s report is a welcome development, one can’t help but wonder.

THE MARIETTA SCHOOL BOARD will elect its chair and vice chair for 2013 on Tuesday. Speculation has it that present Vice Chair Randy Weiner will move up to chair to succeed incumbent Jill Mutimer.

HARD AS IT MAY BE to believe, it has been four years since The Strand Theater reopened following a lavish renovation. And to mark the occasion, what’s now officially known as The Earl Smith Strand will celebrate tonight with “Movie Magic and Birthday Bashes,” taking note both its anniversary and the 82nd birthday of namesake Smith.

The black-tie fundraiser starts with cocktails at 7 p.m., followed by a musical revue at 8 and then drinks and desserts at the home of former Gov. and Mrs. Roy Barnes on Whitlock Avenue. Strand executive director Earl Reece is requesting that attendees dine at one of the neighboring restaurants prior to the event. Money raised will go to help pay down the remaining $1.6 million in debt for the renovation of the Depression-era Art Deco jewel. What for decades was Cobb’s premiere movie house closed in the early 1970s, then deteriorated for decades while standing mostly empty. That changed after a $5 million fund drive launched in 2002 resulted in its restoration and reopening four years ago. What for too long was a blight on the Square is now the economic engine driving the Square’s nighttime status as an entertainment destination and has hosted more than 1,600 events since its reopening, according to Reece.

As for former Cobb Commission Chairman Smith, he’s on the mend from follow-up surgery in connection with the broken hip he suffered during a fall in late 2011. Doctors operated successfully four days before Christmas last week to remove a titanium rod from his hip, reports Reece.

“When I spoke with Earl on Friday, in true Earl Smith form, he informed me that he might have to walk with a cane at the birthday celebration, but added that he would be on the golf course without a cane soon,” Reece said.

For last-minute tickets or information, contact the Strand at (770) 293-0080 or

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