Around Town: Diploma difficulties have Lee, county waiting on Willie
April 27, 2013 12:00 AM | 5603 views | 5 5 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB COMMISSION Chairman Tim Lee announced last month that the county was hiring Pompano Beach assistant city manager Willie Hopkins Jr. to succeed Virgil Moon as the county’s new support services director. His expected start date was April 15. But that date is now two weeks in the rearview mirror and Moon’s old desk is still empty. So what’s up?

“He’s having a hard time finding a copy of his college diploma,” Lee explained on Friday.

Hopkins, a retired Army major, reportedly has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Alcorn State University in Mississippi, according to the MDJ story about his hiring.

Lee said he doesn’t think there’s anything amiss.

“He has given us permission to get it directly from the college, which we’re doing,” the chairman said. “Why would you sign a release for me to get your college certificate if you didn’t have one?”

If he fails to produce the document, Hopkins won’t be allowed to start, Lee said.

“But we have no reason to believe it can’t be produced,” Lee said.

Hopkins, 49, didn’t start on time because he is taking care of his son, who is undergoing open-heart surgery, Lee said.

The support services director manages a staff of 320 and is in charge of property management, information services, purchasing and government service centers. He also is the liaison with the tax assessor’s office.

The job has a salary range of $96,800 to $157,000. Moon, who retired in September to become the chief financial officer at Cobb and Douglas Public Health, was earning $146,700.

Hopkins is expected to notify the county on Monday as to what his plans are, Lee said.

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THE COBB BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS voted 3-2 this week to start Cobb’s first mental health court by accepting a $53,615 grant from the state to cover the rest of this fiscal year. The court received strong support from Superior Court Judge Mary Staley, court administrator Tom Charron and D.A. Vic Reynolds, among others.

Dissenting votes came from Commissioners Helen Goreham and Bob Ott, whose votes aren’t always in alignment. Both are concerned about cost overruns and unanticipated costs. The actual cost of startup government programs often comes in higher than original estimates. Initial projections are the court would cost $215,000 on an annual basis. But a full-year grant from the state would cover only $120,000 of that, leaving roughly $95,000 to be found elsewhere.

In addition, one of the biggest variables is how much treatment each client needs to undergo with the Cobb Community Service Board. Those state guidelines won’t come out until June, Lee said earlier this week.

While most in the community agree there is a general need for this type of court, there are wide opinions on how to pay for it.

Charron has committed to the commission to return if costs exceed the $215,000 original estimate. Then the question becomes what then? The commission would have to vote to increase the budget; the Superior Court could cut other services or expenses to cover the shortfall; or the program could be shut down altogether.

One courthouse watcher has already predicted to Around Town that this program will not last more than year, thanks to the high potential for cost overruns and a lack of appetite on the commission’s part to dip into the General Fund to pay for the new court.

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GOV. NATHAN DEAL gracefully sidestepped a potentially awkward start to finish strong in his remarks at Thursday’s Marietta Kiwanis Club.

The governor delivered a brisk 25 minute recap of his accomplishments to date before an SRO crowd of 220 people at the Marietta Hilton Conference Center.

And so what if Club President Bobby Tharpe mangled his name while presenting him to the audience, calling him Gov. Nathan “Dean”? The governor didn’t miss a beat.

“I’m traveling incognito today, so anything I say will be held against somebody else rather than me!” he quipped.

(For the record, Nathan Dean was a Democrat from Rockmart who spent several decades in the state Legislature).

And joked Tharpe to Deal as the latter reached the podium, “Hi, I’m club president Bobby Tharpe. I’m not nervous, am I?”

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POLITICS: Georgia House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey’s biggest advantage over most of his opponents in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) in Congress is his expected ability to tap into the deep pockets of many residents of his statehouse district in Buckhead. And Lindsey is wasting no time trying to do so. Though only officially a candidate for less than two weeks, he has already announced a major fundraiser for May 16 at The Georgian Club at the Galleria, featuring Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal. RSVP to Patti Peach at (770) 850-0165. ... State Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) announced his candidacy for Gingrey’s old seat this week, joining Lindsey and former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Smyrna). And sources close to former Georgia GOP Chair candidate Tricia Pridemore say she too is thinking hard of running for Gingrey’s old seat.

Meanwhile, Around Town has learned that state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) plans to jump into that race in the not too distant future. The 6th Congressional District might be a better fit for Hill, but a run against incumbent Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) probably would be politically suicidal. And if Price runs for U.S. Senate instead, as many expect, politicos say the odds-on favorite to replace him in Congress would be former Fulton County Commission Chairwoman Karen Handel of north Fulton. Handel has been campaigning as if she’s running for Senate, but would drop back to run for the 6th instead if ally and mentor Price announces for Senate, politicos say. ... Republicans elected officers at last Saturday’s 6th and 11th District Conventions in Cobb. New 6th District Chair is Michael Fitzgerald, with Larry Savage, Brian Anderson and Helen Story as vice chairpersons. New 11th chair is Scott Johnson, with Robert Anderson, Matt Watson and Billie Dendy as vice chairpersons.

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MORE POLITICS: Cobb Democrats will hold their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner May 11 at the Doubletree Hotel in Atlanta with state Sen. Jason Carter, grandson of President Jimmy Carter, as keynote speaker.

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FRIDAY’S CENTENNIAL of the murder of Mary Phagan passed with little apparent notice. The slaying of the 13-year-old Marietta girl at The Atlanta Pencil Factory on April 26, 1913, set off a frenzy of events that culminated with the lynching two years later of her former boss, Leo Frank, just off Roswell Road near the modern-day Big Chicken. The case was a blot on Marietta’s reputation for much of the 20th century and has served as the basis of countless books, movies, TV shows and even a Broadway musical.

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PEOPLE: Congratulations to Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harris and Helen Hines of Marietta, who Wednesday welcomed their fourth grandchild, Preston Harris Hines II, namesake of his grandfather. The proud parents are Hap and Kelly Hines. Hap is a Marietta High School graduate and was a standout kicker for four years for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. The couple now lives in Newnan where Hap coaches football and Kelly works for Piedmont Hospital. ... Marietta businessman Larry Ceminsky is improving at WellStar Kennestone and might be headed home today after an unexpected hospitalization after his diabetes flared up.

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EATING, DRINKING: The Pressed Panini Bar will open in June in the former Blimpie’s space in the old First National Bank Building on Marietta Square, reports landlord Philip Goldstein. Paninis are pressed, toasted sandwiches. … The Starbucks that opened Friday just off the Square on Whitlock Avenue — the first-ever in downtown Marietta — is bigger than most other Starbucks. And Goldstein, father of the coffee shop’s landlord Joseph Goldstein, tells Around Town its opening was pegged to coincide with Sunday’s “Taste of Marietta” festival, which is expected to bring more than 100,000 people to the Square.

Comments
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Where's Willie????
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April 30, 2013
WELL.....did Willie decide to stay put or is he coming to Cobb? OR....did he not have a diploma?
Taxpayer in Cobb
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April 28, 2013
The recent leak from 100 Cherokee St is that Willie is entertaining the Fulton County Manager position that David Hankerson was being pursued for. He may be holding out for that position instead of committing to Cobb County. Keep him in Fulton, why is Cobb County even considering people from The City of Atlanta or Fulton County with all of the negative press these agencies receive? Our government identity will suffer as they have in the future. Start looking internally for qualified candidates who are familiar with the internal workings of our county government!
Timely Tim Lee
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April 27, 2013
Did Tim Lee really ask "Why would you sign a release for me to get your college certificate if you didn’t have one?"

The only reasons you would sign a release for someoen to get your college diploma is because you didn't have one: Either you don't have one on hand, or you don't have one at all and you are bluffing. Does Tim Lee our County Commission Charmin really not understand the bluff? God help us all! Speaking of the bluff, why is Mr Lee calling it a "college certificate?" Nobody holding a diploma would refer to a diploma as a "certificate." A "certificate" is what you get for taking two night classes your employer required.

Since he seems not to know the difference between a diploma and a certificate, one has to wonder, does Tim Lee have a diploma? Have we seen it?

Or is it that Mr Lee is trying to reframe the expectation for Hopkins from "diploma" to "certificate" because perhaps Hopkins admitted he maybe fibbed a little?

...

Doesn't Starbucks know the area? Anyone local will go to the Cool Beans, and the "drive everywhere" people from West Cobb already went to the Starbucks outside of the Targets on their way to come throw their drive-thru garbage in our yards. I predict the shortest lifespan allowed for a Starbucks by Corporate before this one shuts down.
Just Sayin'....
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April 28, 2013
It would seem Mr. Hopkins would have needed to prove his degree with his current or past employers???? My bet is, it does not exist. The better question is who knew and how long have they known? Hankerson? Lee? HR?
w in marietta
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April 27, 2013
J. Hill, a talented guy who can talk out of all three sides of his mouth at the same time, and yet say nothing of value
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