I will say that the number of intrepid public servants that could get me to put on a coat and tie and sit through a state-of-anything speech at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m. is rarer than singing frogs. Mayor Tumlin happens to be one who can.
The mayor could serve as a role model for all those self-important, humorless and thin-skinned politicians who feel that I am always picking on them. Bless their hearts. I pick on them because they are — well — self-important, humorless and thin-skinned.
I consider Steve Tumlin the antithesis of the glad-handing and glib politician and I enjoy his self-deprecating humor. For example, he related to the crowd the telephone call he got from Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee while en route out of town. Lee had called him to tell him that the Braves were moving to Cobb County.
“I knew that,” he answered the chairman, “I have already heard the rumor that the Rome Braves are thinking about moving here.”
No, he was told. It was (and is) the big-league Braves.
He admitted his surprise at the news — as well as his feigned shock that the team was planning on moving to perhaps the only spot in the county that real estate mogul and longtime Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein didn’t already own. Goldstein, who has been known to cross swords with the mayor, laughed as hard as everybody else in the audience.
The mayor talked about the city’s response to the recent snowstorms and how school system personnel and city staffers worked around the clock to ensure the safety of the children and teachers who were unable to get home because of the treacherous conditions. Unable to traverse the hills on his way home, he had to walk the last mile or so. Even so, he admits as a politician it was better to be seen by the voters trudging along in the snow as opposed to his counterpart in Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed, who was being whisked around in an official vehicle.
Nothing sums up the man’s authenticity better than his reaction to the several mentions made at the breakfast about his having received the Cobb Chamber Leadership Award for his efforts to promote the $68 million bond referendum for the redevelopment of the crime-infested Franklin Road area, one of the largest economic development improvements in the history of Marietta. All of this while running for re-election.
In November, voters approved the bond referendum, including up to a two mill increase in property tax as well as re-electing him to office.
Had the bond issue lost, his re-election would not have mattered, he says, because he would not have wanted to be the mayor in a city that didn’t see the importance of redeveloping an area that has been long in need of improvement. As a result of the passage, the redevelopment located between I-75 and Cobb Parkway will be two exits from the proposed Atlanta Braves stadium and has the potential to bring a huge economic boost to Marietta’s bottom line.
I am not deeply into city of Marietta politics, but I know enough about what is going on in town to know that you underestimate the man at your own risk. Steve Tumlin is smart and has a keen political sense hidden behind his good ol’ boy image. It is obvious also that he has a great pride in his hometown, as well he should.
There are a lot of cities around our state that would like to have Marietta’s problems. The city has long had responsible political and business leadership and a strong sense of community, and it continues today.
As he ended his speech, the mayor noted that the General Assembly was winding up the legislative session and that meant I would be without some of my favorite targets and perhaps looking around for new ones. He hoped he wouldn’t be among them.
He needn’t worry. Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin is going to have to become a lot more self-important, humorless and/or thin-skinned than he is now if he is going to make my hit list. I just don’t see that happening. The guy makes my job very difficult.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.