Around Town: Jail probe continues and Goreham wants IMAGE task force
by Bill Kinney & Joe Kirby
February 16, 2013 12:00 AM | 5203 views | 3 3 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEPUTY Cobb District Attorney John Melvin will be the lead prosecutor in the case against two Cobb Sheriff’s sergeants at the Cobb Adult Detention Center recently arrested on charges of sexually assaulting inmates.

Sheriff Neil Warren is conducting an internal investigation of the incidents and has promised to get to the bottom of the problem. He has consulted with Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds as part of his investigation, and particularly with Melvin, who is the department’s Public Integrity prosecutor, according to Reynolds’ spokeswoman, Kim Isaza. But the district attorney’s office is not conducting its own investigation into the matter, she said.

Sgt. Kristopher David Travitz, a 14-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Feb. 2 and charged with assaulting a female inmate between Oct. 21, 2010 and March 7, 2011, as she was being moved from one building to the other at the jail. Sgt. Blake Sutherland was arrested Jan. 18 on charges of aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery against a female inmate on Jan. 11.

High-placed court officials privately have told Around Town they have heard there have been additional instances of jailer-inmate sex, as well as such relations between jailers.


IMAGE: Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, who’s been on the hot seat as of late regarding her upcoming vote on whether the county should require contractors with whom it does business to apply for IMAGE certification to assure those they hire are citizens and not illegal aliens, explains her position in a guest column in Sunday’s MDJ Opinion section.

Goreham supported last year’s vote to seek IMAGE certification for the county government, but says she opposes the pending ordinance because it, in essence, would declare that all companies and vendors who do business with Cobb “are guilty of hiring illegals until proven otherwise.”

She instead hopes to convene a task force of the various interested parties — including outspoken local IMAGE advocate D.A. King — to recommend a more “practical course of action,” she writes.

The Commission is slated to vote on the ordinance Feb. 26 after a third and final hearing on the measure. At present it appears doomed to fail, considering that she, Commission Chairman Tim Lee and southwest Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid all oppose it. Only east Cobb’s Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell are in favor. …

Incidentally, Goreham will host a town hall meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the West Cobb Senior Center on Dallas Highway.


SPEAKING OF KING, the City of Acworth almost rolled out the welcome mat for the immigration activist this week, then rolled it back up just as fast.

Acworth is one of several Cobb cities that have shown no interest in the IMAGE program until recent days.

City Clerk Regina Russell called and emailed King on Wednesday to get contact information for Special Agent Rick Beamish of ICE so he could make a presentation to the council Monday about IMAGE.

Added Russell, “In the event Mr. Beamish is unavailable, we greatly appreciate your time and assistance in this matter” — in other words, inviting King to make the presentation if Beamish was unavailable.

King wrote back 30 minutes later affirming that he would be happy to fill in.

But King got another email from the clerk an hour or so after that one, stating simply, “Please disregard this request. Thank you, Regina.”

When questioned by the MDJ about the about-face, Mayor Tommy Allegood, an ally of Lee, emailed us the following Thursday morning: “As you know IMAGE is a ‘voluntary’ partnership between the federal government and the private sector/business and we are doing some research on IMAGE in order to present to our Council Members at our Work Session on this Monday night’s agenda … thanks so much for your help! Tommy.”


SICK BAY: Chairman Lee is back home this weekend after spending four nights in WellStar Kennestone Hospital fighting the effects of the flu. He’s expected to be back on the job on Monday, according to county spokesman Robert Quigley.


ATTORNEY Glenn Brock — who at times became a lightning rod for controversy in connection with his work on behalf of the Cobb County School District — is leaving the downtown Marietta firm he co-founded and helped build into one of the city’s biggest.

Brock Clay Calhoun & Rogers attorney H. Scott Gregory Jr. announced Thursday that Brock is departing to become a partner in the Atlanta office of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough. He’ll continue his education practice there and also work on national education policy issues.

Brock Clay’s education group will henceforth be headed by Clem Doyle, who has 10 years of local experience as a school-board attorney. The firm’s name will soon be updated as well.


BROCK WORKED with seven Cobb superintendents and more than 40 school board members between 1989 and 2011 and has the battle scars to prove it. He was a central figure in most of the controversies that ensnared the CCSD during the past decade — from then-Superintendent Joe Redden’s $100 million scheme to use SPLOST funds to give every middle and high-school student a take-home laptop computer; to the promotion as high school principal of an educator under investigation for sexual harassment; to the fact that the board voted in secret back in 2007 to let its contract with Brock Clay roll over automatically every four years unless the board voted to cancel it. Cobb’s school boards never put that contract out for bid during Brock’s long tenure, which became an additional source of controversy.

Brock also made unwanted headlines when he admitted in 2009 that the school board had voted 55 times behind closed doors in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act between 2007-09. Brock conceded that, “Mistakes have been made. … ” Left unsaid was whether he had told the board those votes were legal, or whether the board had overridden his advice to the contrary.


SPEAKING OF COBB Schools, one of the district’s best-remembered superintendents is moving “back home” — to Cobb.

Kermit Keenum, who served two lengthy stints as superintendent, had moved to Booneville, Miss., after his retirement. That’s where he and his five siblings had grown up as sharecroppers on farms (a dozen of them, actually) outside Booneville. That experience formed the basis of his recent autobiography, “From Sharecropper to Superintendent in One Generation.”

Keenum, 76, moved to Cobb in 1960 to teach at Marietta High School and wound up serving as Cobb super from 1973-80 and from 1989-93.

He told Around Town he and wife, Billie, are coming back to Cobb in order to be closer to their four children, all of whom are in education in the Atlanta area.


MARIETTA’S industrial transformation sparked by the Bell Bomber Plant during World War II will be the subject of a panel discussion featuring retired Kennesaw State University history professor Dr. Tom Scott and MDJ Editorial Page editor / “The Bell Bomber Plant” author Joe Kirby.

The event will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sturgis Library at KSU. Call (770) 423-6289 for details.


COBB SUPERIOR COURT Senior Judge Conley Ingram “came prepared” when he moderated Wednesday’s much-anticipated gun control “debate” at the Marietta Rotary Club meeting between former Congressman Bob Barr of Smyrna (an NRA board member) and outspoken liberal MDJ columnist Kevin Foley.

“I brought my pistol just in case, and almost brought a bayonet, too!” he joked. “I hope I don’t get caught in the crossfire. I almost brought my courtroom deputy just in case.”

He also noted the irony of Foley being a resident of Kennesaw — the only city in the country that requires adult residents to own a firearm. Foley then noted that although his column bio describes him as a resident of that city, he actually lives just outside it and is thus “a proud resident of unincorporated Cobb.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Cobb Resident
February 16, 2013
Conley - you can be for gun control and still own a gun.
Just Wait
February 16, 2013
It's beginning to look like the Sheriff's office is nothing but a big sex cesspool. Maybe our Sheriff needs to be a bit more concerned with what is going on in his house and not so much about guns in the citizens houses.
February 16, 2013
Foley always has to have the last word, huh.
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