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Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

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Sandy Springs: The Barbarians Inside The Gate-Part 1

by Bill Simon

Prelude

If you are a fan of Chinese food, you might be familiar with the little table game played upon reading the fortune contained in a fortune cookie. The ‘game’ is that whatever the fortune says, you add a statement at the end of it that says either “…in your own mind.” or “…in bed.”

In a parallel fashion to the myriad of crap going on in the City of Sandy Springs (“SS”), whatever problem you observe occurring in SS (e.g., if you’re stuck in traffic in SS, if you’re wondering why you are being saddled with what will likely end-up being $300 million in taxpayer debt once the bonds are all paid-off 30 years from now, or if SS government appears to be run like the Obama Administration), here is a way to mentally deal with it: State the problem, and then finish your sentence with “…Because of Mayor Rusty Paul.”

So, to practice here, let’s ask the question of “Why did SS recently have to go thru a voting process run as though it was the year 1960 in Blount County, Alabama?”

Answer: Because of the direct actions of Mayor Rusty Paul.

Another practice question: “Why did the voting process for District 3 Special Election process resemble a 55 year-old election procedure?”

Because….due to the screw-up of Rusty Paul trying to gain more power to stuff the pockets of himself and his clients with more money, he personally caused three major issues with the voting process:

1) On May 24th, voters had to visit TWO different physical locations in order to cast votes–because there was a regular statewide primary scheduled for May 24th, and a Special Election for District 3 of the Sandy Springs City Council…and due to Rusty Paul’s personal cluster*f*ck of governing, the City was unable to have the Special Election integrated within the normal Fulton County Board of Elections process. Not everyone got the message that they had to visit two different places, separated by more than 1 mile, so not everyone voted who would have normally voted in the Special Election.

2) For both the Special Election, and the Special Election Run-off, rather than have electronic accounting of who voted, the City of Sandy Springs had to employ paper tracking sheets for the list of voters. This consisted of a triplicate Voting List form being filled-out by election personnel…some of whom it is clear never learned how to print names, or forgot that skill along the way in life. This is an example of the forms used (names have been deliberately blurred-out by me, but the PDF documents exist with the City Clerk’s office): Run-Off Example.

BIG question for #2 above is how are these voters going to have their appearance at the voting booth be tracked by the Secretary of State’s office since they were written-down and not ‘checked-off’ whereby their ID would be scanned into a system (as it is done when elections are held by counties)? Thank Rusty Paul for that.

3) Rather than electronic voting machines being used, paper, fill-in-the-bubble ballots were used, and then stuffed into a ballot box. In the case of the May 24th election date, it was observed by several people that the ballot box disappeared behind a closed door with multiple City of Sandy Springs personnel with the box. After about an hour or so, the box was carried out from the room it was in, and then the paper ballots were hand-fed into a tabulation machine. What happened to the box of ballots while it was out of sight of people concerned with the honesty of an election?

Also…in the run-off, while the ballot box was at Hammond Park for early voting…what happened to it a) at night with the poll was closed?, and 2) over the weekend and the Monday before the June 21 Election Day?

NOW…as a side note to you folks in the Fulton County Republican Party who have bitched and whined about the appearance of a lack of competence in how the Fulton County Board of Elections run elections…well, after the Rusty-Paul-cluster-f*ck of this Special Election, you folks now have NO ROOM to complain since Rusty is Mr. Republican, and there is a massive shadow of incompetency and dishonesty hanging over this Special Election in Sandy Springs under his watch.

Wendell Willard: Barbarian Henchman

The City of Sandy Springs has a 19-page section of their City Code devoted to Ethics whereby every term is defined well, and what constitutes “conflicts of interests” and all that related stuff. Here is a link to the most current PDF version from the MuniCode website: http://www.politicalvine.com/sandysprings/CodeofEthics-SandySprings6-11-2016.pdf

What I found to be one of the most notable sections is that at any time any member of the city council, or any employee, or whoever might have a question concerning what is “ethical” or what isn’t, that ALL inquires get routed to the City Attorney for his/her review of the city ethics code…and if the city attorney says something is ‘ethical’, then it’s okay to engage in the activity, corrupt though it may be to anyone outside of SS.

Now, as most people know, the City’s Attorney is Wendell Willard, and he has been in that position since the city’s inception.

What a lot of people in Sandy Springs are not likely aware of is that the approximate total cost of $100,000 for the Special Election to replace former city council member Graham McDonald is all due to…Wendell Willard not having a clue as to how to read and interpret the city’s code on behalf of the City.

You see, Mayor Rusty Paul had a plan in mind when he encouraged McDonald to run against House District 52 Rep. Joe Wilkinson. He was going to use McDonald to defeat Wilkinson in the May 24th AND with initial advice from his henchman, Wendell Willard, after McDonald resigned from the city council, Mayor Paul thought he was going to be able to appoint McDonald’s replacement on the Council. (That planned appointment was Chris Burnett, the ultimate winner of the June 21st run-off.)

Silly rabbit, that Rusty Paul is, to rely on Wendell’s reading of the city code. It’s right smack dab in Sec. 2.03. – Vacancy; filling of vacancies; suspensions:

“….A vacancy in the office of mayor or city councilmember shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a special election if such vacancy occurs 12 months or more prior to the expiration of the term of that office. If such vacancy occurs within 12 months of the expiration of the term of that office, the city council or those members remaining shall appoint a successor for the remainder of the term. This provision shall also apply to a temporary vacancy created by the suspension from office of the mayor or any city councilmember.”

Now, qualifying for that State House seat was back in early March of 2016…and sometime in the interim between McDonald qualifying for HD 52 and…this March 29th meeting of the City Council, someone else decided to read the City Code…and start counting months and determined “Heyyyy! Where I come from, 20 months is more than 12 months! We gotta have a Special Election to fill this seat!”

And that, Ladies & Gentlemen, is how Sandy Springs came to be spending $100,000+ on a Special Election…because City Attorney Wendell Willard cannot read and do simple math. So, how would Wendell Willard be possibly qualified to read and interpret the city’s Code of Ethics? Answer: Wendell Willard isn’t qualified. At. All. (Neither, apparently, is the assistant City Attorney, Cecil McClendon.)

If Willard was qualified…then he would easily be able to recognize why Mayor Rusty Paul has a MASSIVE conflict of interest between who he works for as a registered lobbyist, and his ‘presumed’ (cough!-cough!) role representing the best (cough!)…interests (cough!-cough!) of the voters and taxpayers of the City of Sandy Springs, rather than his clients. So, let’s introduce…

(Continued in Part 2…)

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Today's Deep Thought

To us, it might look like just a rag. But to the brave, embattled men of the fort, it was more than that. It was a flag of surrender. And after that, it was torn up and used for shoe-shine rags, so the men would look nice for the surrender.



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