Around Town: A Tale of Two Cities — and something’s ‘stinky’ in one of them
by Lee B. Garrett, Joe Kirby and Otis Brumby III
June 28, 2013 11:14 PM | 6901 views | 17 17 comments | 91 91 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity ….

RECENT DAYS have been the best of times for Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin, as a committee of the city council saw the wisdom of his redevelopment proposal for problem-plagued Franklin Road and voted to forward his plans up to the full council; and as the city’s bond consultant reported the cheering news that City Hall’s original calculation that a 2 mill general obligation bond issue for Franklin would generate $35 million was wildly off the mark and would actually rake in twice that amount.

But recent days have been the worst of times for Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews. Incredulous MDJ readers have had front-row seats to front-page coverage of the mayor’s bare-knuckle efforts to ensure a political ally was appointed to the Kennesaw Council to fill the unexpired term of his foe Bill Thrash, who died of cancer last month.

Thrash’s dying wish was to see his wife, Suzanne, appointed as his successor. But it was not to be. Mathews, who had numerous political disagreements with the late Thrash, cast the deciding vote (joined by members Tim Killingsworth and Jeff Duckett) to appoint Kennesaw Development Authority member Matthew Riedemann instead.

It’s customary, though not required, for widows to serve out the remainder of their husbands’ terms in office. In fact, that’s how Rebecca Latimer Felton of Cartersville — the only female thus far ever to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate — got there back in 1922.

But Mathews had other plans.

“How silly of me to think it would have worked out,” Suzanne Thrash told the MDJ. “I should have known better. Now everything is tainted, it’s dirty.”

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THRASH and Mathews had been at odds the past year or so over the question of which company should provide ambulance service to the city. The Thrashes were supporters of Georgia EMS, which provided that service to the city for 14 years. Mathews supported MetroAtlanta Ambulance — which interestingly is the same company for which he works as a government liaison.

It was later determined Kennesaw was breaking the law by not using Metro, which in turn prompted an effort by the council to pass a resolution (supported by Thrash) urging the state Legislature to change the law. The resolution was adamantly opposed by Mathews, Killingsworth and Duckett.

“(Bill) was fighting Mark all the time on that,” Mrs. Thrash said.

Mathews says the ambulance fight didn’t have anything to do with his preference for Riedemann over Mrs. Thrash.

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BUT THE “AGE OF FOOLISHNESS” in Kennesaw grew even more toxic with the emergence late this week (as reported in the MDJ) of damning text messages from this spring between Mathews and his former PR consultant, Debra Ashley-Williams, on the subject of Thrash.

One of the conversations involved Mathews’ assessment of Thrash’s ability to make a clear recommendation about his successor.

“Bill’s wish at the point of coherent abilities or at the point of hallucinating about dogs jumping out of the car?” Mathews wrote. “Any clue how many times he apologized for her comments or actions? I’ve yet to attend an event or been at a function that she didn’t have a complaint. #1 complaint was always the size of her lobster or not getting ‘appropriate’ recognition. It was never what she deserved. I’m sorry but the city already has a person that abuses the position and wastes money with no remorse ... and believe it or not it’s not me.”

Asked on Thursday by the MDJ about the texts, Mathews described them as “inside conversations, personal friend-of-friend conversations that were being had, and yes, he had hallucinations towards the end of his life,” Mathews said. “And it was joked about by him and by his close friends. … I had candid conversations with a friend, who I thought was a friend, that were the exact conversations I had with Mrs. Thrash.”

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THE EMBARRASSING TEXTS were released by Ashley-Williams. Some were quick to speculate that her decision to release texts showing her former client in such a bad light might have short-circuited her chances of being hired to do future PR work.

But as she apparently wrote on the “Reader Comment” area of the MDJonline.com website on Friday, “I worked on his Campaign the FIRST time, I wasn’t his Campaign Manager. I refused his requests the second Campaign because I witnessed events I could no longer support. …

“There are 4-5 people in this town who was (sic) with Mr. Thrash often in his final months when he was very lucid and he shared his desires with them. I was one of them, and if the Mayor considered me knowledgeable enough to ask for my feedback, suggestion, and guidance on what he should do following the June 12 meeting, then why did he not have that same belief when I shared with him Bill’s request?”

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THINGS ARE LOOKING UP in Marietta, where Tumlin is confident the council will agree (although not unanimously) July 10 to call a $68 million bond referendum for November.

It’s a different tale in Kennesaw.

“There’s something wrong here,” Suzanne Thrash told the MDJ. “There’s something really stinky in Denmark.”

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. … It just depends on where you live.

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COBB BOARD OF EDUCATION member Scott Sweeney of east Cobb was supposed to be a reformer, a breath of fresh air who came from the outside, not a rubber-stamping insider willing to do the central office’s whim. At least that’s how Sweeney campaigned in 2010.

During that campaign, Sweeney criticized then-Superintendent Fred Sanderson for his “lack of authentic engagement in numerous areas; including grand jury investigations, employment recommendations, support of unwarranted financial perks, and curriculum decisions,” hinting that he would not favor extending Sanderson’s contract.

Now Sweeney rarely returns calls from the media and is seen by many as a rubber stamp for the superintendent’s office.

Current Super Michael Hinojosa has described Sweeney as the best chairman he ever worked with. And Sweeney’s tour as chair clearly hastened his evolution from “reformer” to Central Office surrogate.

Now Around Town is told that Sweeney is threatening board Chairman Randy Scamihorn behind the scenes — warning that he’ll sic the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (better known as SACS) on Scamihorn for allegedly violating his role as a board member.

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THE Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is a nongovernmental, non-elected agency that accredits about 13,000 public and non-public institutions worldwide. It is well known for advocating that school systems be run by strong superintendents and subservient boards.

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SO WHAT IS SCAMIHORN’S “CRIME”? Having the courage to stand up to the superintendent and Central Office educrats. Namely, he insisted at the June 12 meeting board meeting that Hinojosa send an email to all county staff correcting misinformation about the board’s vote on the controversial Common Core Curriculum. The misinformation was spread in a May 28 email blast from one of the super’s top underlings, who also urged recipients to lobby the board to change its mind.

Hinojosa sent the email as directed — but didn’t do so until Tuesday, nearly two weeks later. Most people don’t take such a blasé attitude about carrying out orders from their boss. And yes, the superintendent works for the board, not the other way around.

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FORMER Marietta Council veteran Betty Hunter will be grand marshal for this year’s July Fourth Parade, which steps off at 10 a.m. Cobb Democrats will hold their annual Herb Butler family picnic at the IAM Local 709 Union Hall next to Southern Poly. The Republicans’ picnic will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jim Miller Park. Headlining will be Gov. and Mrs. Nathan Deal, reports Cobb party Chair Joe Dendy. Also due are U.S. Reps. Tom Price plus four candidates for U.S. Senate: Phil Gingrey of Marietta, Jack Kingston of Savannah, Karen Handel of north Fulton and Paul Broun of Athens.

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HAVE A HAPPY FOURTH! Around Town will be back next Saturday, July 6.

Comments
(17)
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Eileen Alberstadt
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July 03, 2013
First off, I do not hide behind any alias. This is me and me alone. Mark Mathews, I am so ashamed to tell people who our Mayor of Kennesaw really is. It should not be you. You have proven that you are out for you and you alone. The City of Kennesaw and its business owners and its citizens are nothing to you or to your two cronies. How many people do you actually go to visit in your community? How many businesses do you stop in to say hello to? I can answer those questions for you. Unless they have a free golf game attached to something for you, they are nothing. People do not want you here anymore. What do you not understand? Metro should get tired of seeing your name in a dark limelight! Do us all a favor and resign so that you will not have petitions dumped in your lap asking you to leave. You run every business out of this town, by your lack of caring who is here and who isn't. Your politician days are limited. Back to doing what you do best and who knows what that is! Wake up and smell the coffee Mark and by the way, take your two cronies with you on the way out. None of you will ever be re-elected again.
Joe Bozeman
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July 03, 2013
Please tone it down a notch or two Eileen, in my opinion you are doing more harm than good
TruthWatcher
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July 02, 2013
It never ceases to amaze me...People jump to attack the ones trying to shed light on dirty politics. Instead of holding the ones who made the promises to them responsible... Their elected officials. The citizens of Kennesaw should be furious. Mayor Mathews has continuously embarassed the city. He has run decent business out of Kennesaw in droves. The only ones left are on his side of political contributions. He is currupt along with his lackys Jeff Duckett and Tim Killingsworth. Which he manipulates like little puppets. Well, in Councilman Tim Killingsworth defense, he's probably just to dumb to realize he is being manipulated, but he is and continues to be a disgrace to the US Marine Corp. The other cities in Cobb County are laughing at the City of Kennesaw. What a CIRCUS! The voters need to clean up this mess.
Eileen Alberstadt
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July 03, 2013
Hey Truth Watcher:

This is one citizen in Kennesaw who IS furious. I can not stand the BS that is always going down in this beautiful little town. Mark! My grandma had a saying "There is nothing lower than a snake in the grass" You and your two cronies are all snakes. You are all out of here!
Maybe he was lying?
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July 02, 2013
I didn't know the man, but I do know he was a man. So maybe he told his wife "yes honey of cousre I want YOU to take my position after I pass on" while telling everyone else "whatever you do, do NOT replace me with HERRRRRR!"
Debra W
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July 02, 2013
How absolutely inappropriate you are!!!! You are right - YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE MAN. Could this possibly be a personal character trait you possess and therefore believe it exist in everyone else? After all, you are hiding behind a alias so that proves quite a lot.
It's true
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July 03, 2013
It is true, a character trait I possess is that I do try to make nice with even the worst of the awful cows I encounter dail. You call them Southern Belles, I call them Awful Cows, but never to their faces, only to their friends, because I fully understand Southern culture.
Debra W
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July 03, 2013
It's True: I highly doubt you actually know anything of Southern Culture. Bless Your Heart!
sorry for Kennesaw
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June 29, 2013
I feel sorry for the people in Kennesaw. This is a stereo typical story of a small town politician letting perceived power go to his head. The question I have is how long will Metro Ambulance put up with this comedy of errors. Certainly they regret becoming involved with Mr. Mathews as it's mentioned that he works for them every time there's a story about his clownish activities.
two thoughts
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June 29, 2013
First, I don't see why this paper seems to think the idea of the city, "us", that is, buying up the Franklin Road property is going to work out hunky-dory. The private sector needs to be encouraged to buy and improve the area, not the taxpayers.

Second, if Hinojosa continues to ignore the authority of the Board, he needs to be replaced. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Debra W
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June 29, 2013
Clarification on a part reported. I've NEVER been hired by anyone sitting on the Council, nor the City of Kennesaw for PR work. I've NEVER been paid for PR work by the City, the Mayor, or any Council member. I volunteered on his first campaign for free. Refused his request to Manage his second campaign and I was NEVER his PR Consultant. We need to keep facts clear and gossip and speculation out of journalism.
Hobnail Boot
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July 01, 2013
Yes, by all means lets keep gossip out of journalism. Especially things like scandalous text messages and petty personal attacks on grieving widows or elected officials. Oh wait, you already "released" all that to the paper didn't you? Keep it classy, Kennesaw, keep it classy.
Oh please
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July 02, 2013
Debra- Let's have a modicum of honesty from you, shall we? You've been Mathews' shill for many years, whether you were paid or not. Well known, case closed, move on.
Debra W
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July 02, 2013
Hobnail Boot (You are familiar, I've heard those words from you recently. Need I say where. Please set a meeting with me) Re-read for who was 'attacking' the grieving widow. Class for Kennesaw begins with the leadership - you are the face of our City and that which we are judge by, and Wednesday's meeting showed no class whatsoever in Leadership. As far as class, the fact you use an alias shows no class whatsoever. I'm easy to find if you would like to meet me to talk face to face. Gossip is words that are not true - the text speak for themselves.

Now, Oh Please - you obviously know very little about me (although you feel your opinions are 'well known') and are sure to be part of the unknowing gossip group in Kennesaw. Guess those of us who have the fortitude to say enough is enough and willing to sign their name to it bothers those who continue to hide behind a false pretense.
Joe Bozeman
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July 03, 2013
Go get em "little Debbie", who are these masked men who post under assumed names? I believe them to think they are modern day versions of the Lone Ranger, but instead of leaving silver bullets, they stab you in the back. What a crowd of nit wits!

Your pal,

"Jody"
Eileen Alberstadt
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July 03, 2013
You know I willing to bet a dollar to a dime that Hobnail Boot is the One and Only Mayor of Kennesaw, GA "Mark Mathews". Why hide behind a mask or a name? If you want a name to use Mark, use "SNAKE". Wake up people in Kennesaw! Do not be afraid to stand up and say that we have slime representing us now in The Three Muskateers.
Joe Bozeman
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July 05, 2013
Eileen,

I ask you again to tone this down. If you can prove something, then prove it, but the name calling helps nothing. I have had conversations with the Mayor and all the Council Members about the recent uproar. The key to moving on is to disagree in a honorable way. Remember, you sat on the ethics committee and resigned when you were asked to do your job.
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