Marietta Lights and Water chief suspended for obscene comment
by Jon Gillooly
May 08, 2013 12:51 AM | 5529 views | 13 13 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bob Lewis
Bob Lewis
slideshow
Bob Lewis, general manager of the Marietta Board of Lights and Water, was suspended for three days without pay for cursing and uttering obscenities at another city employee during a City Council meeting.

During the council’s March 28 meeting, Lewis cursed at Sam Lady, the city’s finance chief, who was sitting in the audience, as he passed him in the aisle.

In an April 23 memo to Lewis, City Manager Bill Bruton writes that his actions violate the city code section on “gross discourtesy to coworkers, supervisors, department heads or the public.”

Bruton goes on to write that when he questioned Lewis about the incident later, Lewis denied making the comment, although it was witnessed by a second employee.

By denying that he made the comment, Bruton writes that Lewis violates another part of the city code, which relates to “willfully giving false statements to supervisors, department heads or the public.”

As a result, Bruton suspended Lewis for three days without pay from April 26 to April 30.

Bruton concluded his memo with this statement: “Any future violation of the City of Marietta/BLW Personnel Rules and Regulations will result in disciplinary action up to and including recommendation for termination.”

Asked about the incident, Lewis expressed remorse.

“I would just say that I made a mistake, and I apologized to Sam Lady for it,” Lewis told MDJ on Tuesday. “I made a mistake. I was angry because of what had happened at the council meeting, and I made a mistake in making a comment to Sam that I shouldn’t have.”

Lady declined to comment.

Tensions have run high with the city’s utility as officials decide what to do with the excess power it owns. With the excess energy and the environmental regulations, Mayor Steve Tumlin has predicted a 4 percent electric rate increase every year for the next five years unless alternatives can be found.

Lewis said the second charge Bruton leveled at him came about because he initially didn’t think he said such comments to Lady.

“When he first asked me about the situation, he quoted what I supposedly said, and I didn’t think I had said that, so I came back to one of my coworkers, and I asked them if I said that and they said yes. So when I sat down with him, I told him that,” Lewis said.

As general manager of the city owned utility, Lewis is paid a salary of $127,504. A three-day suspension cost him $1,471.

Lewis, who oversees a staff of 202 people and a annual budget of $167.5 million, has been general manager of the BLW since 2004.

“You know, I’m not a bad guy,” Lewis said. “And I don’t cause these kinds of problems. This is the first time since I was in the tenth grade that I was suspended for anything. I think I was laying out of school playing pool at that point in time. Regardless of how mad I was and regardless of how upset I was, I shouldn’t have used that language at the City Council. So that was my bad.”

Councilman Anthony Coleman believes Lewis deserves greater punishment.

“He got off lightly,” Coleman said.

“I think Bill has numerous incidents that occurred with Bobby,” he said. “It’s time to get some fresh blood in that leadership position. If you’ve got somebody that don’t have respect for the mayor and the City Council and the city manager, it’s time for them to go.””
Comments
(13)
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anonymous
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May 08, 2013
If I got punished every time I uttered a "bad" word at work, I would be history about 25 years ago.
A fellow citizen
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May 08, 2013
Marietta citizens, don't be fooled by Bill Bruton's (and Anthony Coleman, Philip Goldstein, Andy Morris) attempt to humiliate Bob Lewis to suppress the truth and cause a distraction. Anybody present at that meeting will tell you Mr. Lewis was provoked because they wanted a reason to silence him. Ask a MBLW Board member to explain their attempts to correct the way the city is mismanaging BLW funds at your expense. Demand an exact report from your city councilman

about how the city manages the BLW funding. And keep demanding until the truth is exposed.
Look Close
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May 08, 2013
I challenge the MDJ to reprint Larry Will's column about the Council meeting that night. You can see why Bruton wants to deep six Lewis and the information presented. How much is the city really taking out of the utility and charging customers in rates? Ask your Council person for a detailed explanation.
kennesawemplyee
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May 08, 2013
Guess it's a good thing he doesn't work for the city of kennesaw. The assistant city manager has a mouth like a sewer. The entire management staff would be lined up to file complaints.
Good Grief
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May 08, 2013
Good Grief,

What's the big deal? It's not like he slugged a council person...
kennesawemplyee
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May 09, 2013
That should get him an award, not a suspension
Watcher...
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May 08, 2013
I wonder if Mr. Lady may have deserved the comment.

More aggressive discussions might produce better government for us all! Rules that are described in the article STIFLE good government.
Hobnail Boot
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May 08, 2013
Anthony Coleman telling someone they "got off lightly"? A saying about a pot and kettle comes to mind here. Perhaps the good reverend ought to take his own advice. If you can't respect your fellow council members - and last time I checked assaulting someone is not very respectful - it's time for you to go.
firing for what?
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May 08, 2013
Hardly think making an inappropriate comment is grounds for firing. Maybe everyone should be fired since I doubt seriously that any of the little power brokers have been so angelic that nothing naughty passes their lips. Give me a break! This shouldn't even be a story!
Get Over It Boys....
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May 08, 2013
Granted, it was inappropriate, but it is hardly a ground for possible termination. AND, knowing some of these guys and personalities involved, do not for a minute think this is the first or last time such language will be used on either side. It is also sort of funny who the punishment is coming from.
Ynot sell it
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May 08, 2013
Why not sell the extra power? Even if it's sold for a loss, it's better than making us pay 100% of its price for not using it.

If selling it is impossible, how about following the laws of supply and demand? You got too much supply, you increase demand by lowering the price.

Let's think about lowering electricity prices during the summer rather than raising them. We could all be sitting around in 68 degree air conditioning rather than 82 degree because of jacked up rates.

Or how about offering "free electricity for a year" as economic incentive to manufacturers? How about free electricity if Lockheed makes their next military welfare job program project here in Marietta?

It seems there are so many ways to slay this beast, but the Mayor blathers, seemingly mindlessly, about making everybody pay extra for unused power? No wonder the Tax Collector BLW guy is angry!
anonymous
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May 08, 2013
WHO made Anthony Coleman head cook and bottle washer of the city council! AND Anthony Coleman has so much dirty laundry when it come to losing his temper and even hitting fellow members of city council recently. Wheww..talk about egos. If you don't watch Coleman he will be firing people to make sure he gets his pompous way and everyone remembers his pompous importance. There is not a single person in the city council (mayor) or other city hirelings that can't be replaced.

Irate in Marietta
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May 08, 2013
Anthony Coleman is the one that needs to go, in fact he should have left last year. I can't believe he had the audacity to suggest that Lewis should leave. To bad you didn't feel the need to report about his arrest and GBI investigation. Lets examine the facts a) foul language vs. B) assaulting a fellow city council member .
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