Board of Ethics member, attorney recuse themselves in Braves stadium case
by Jon Gillooly
April 10, 2014 04:00 AM | 3823 views | 3 3 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb’s Board of Ethics met for the first time Wednesday to consider a complaint filed against county commissioners for committing public funds toward a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves baseball franchise.

During that meeting, ethics board attorney Lynn Rainey announced that both he and board member Robert Johnson would be recusing themselves from the case based on potential conflicts of interest.

The ethics board voted 4-0 to replace Johnson with attorney Angeline Mathis, a former chairwoman of the ethics board and the ex-wife of Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ben Mathis.

The four board members who voted in favor of the switch were board Chairman and retired Lt. Col. Mike Patellis of east Cobb, appointed to the board by the Cobb Civil Service Board; attorney Darrell Sutton, appointed by the Cobb Bar Association; attorney Doug Shaddix, appointed by the Cobb Board of Elections; and Richard Ziober, elected by the homeowners of Districts 2 and 3.

Rainey, who is also the attorney for the Cumberland Community Improvement District, a group that granted $10 million to better transportation improvements around the future Braves stadium, was next to recuse himself.

“I believe, under the circumstances there may be an appearance that I may be in conflict even though I’ll tell the board I don’t feel like that would be a problem or that I could do anything other than be fair and impartial in my consideration and advice to the board. But I think appearances especially with the Board of Ethics are very important,” Rainey said.

The board voted 5-0 to replace him with Marietta attorney Robert Grayson, a former member of the ethics board.

The board also set an investigatory review for April 23 at 6 p.m. Rainey explained what that means.

“There’s no live evidence or testimony presented. It’s simply a review on the pleadings to determine whether or not that’s sufficient to go forward on what has been presented up to that point. And if it does go forward at the later date, there will be a later date and hearing at which time evidence, sworn testimony will be taken, cross examination and the parties will participate,” Rainey said.

Ethics board members who were not in attendance Wednesday were Walter Moon, Robert Johnson and Deborah King.

Retired businessman Larry Savage of east Cobb filed a March 7 ethics complaint against county Chairman Tim Lee and commissioners JoAnn Birrell, Bob Ott and Helen Goreham, accusing them of violating their oaths of office, the county’s ethics code and the state Constitution by voting last November in favor of building a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves near the Cumberland Mall. About 45 percent of the total cost will be paid for with public funds, with the Braves picking up the remaining balance.

Savage argues the county does not have the authority to create the special tax districts to help finance the stadium.

Lee has dismissed the complaint as “silly and frivolous.”

County staff attorney Linda Brunt filed a response to Savage’s complaint Monday asking the ethics board to dismiss the complaint, which she called unfounded and based on non-legal claims.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Peter Tax
April 12, 2014
Boy, talk about the game being rigged!

All these folks with conflicts of interests? No, they"re not conflicts, this is in their interests to rig the game!

And the president of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Big Ben himself AND his law firm, is an attorney for various governments.

Folks, the game if rigged.
April 10, 2014
You bet they violated ethics. This was an underhanded deal, done behind closed doors. I can tell you (again) that this stinks of pocket lining and Tim Lee is going to have his personal bank account padded big time. Of course he thinks it's “silly and frivolous”. You commissioners had better start updating your resumes and looking for new jobs. Lot's of us are going to vote you OUT OF OFFICE over this.
Just Wait
April 10, 2014
What was the excuse for the board members who did not show?
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