Imker: ‘Taxpayers are the victim, not the mayor’

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Before I start, everything I say below is my opinion. I usually don’t reply to letters or opinions, but when the editor of a paper comes after me, personally, in such a non-fact based diatribe, I believe I have to respond. This isn’t about me, it’s about the attempted theft of $10,000 from the citizens of Peachtree City.

If I’m the one who has to be highlighted by the editor of this paper, fine. But the editior has to be able to “take it” as well as dish it out. He has the advantage being the editor controlling what the readers see. But I’ll take it on anyway. I change tense from talking about the editor to talking to him. Please read carefully.

Reading editor Cal Beverly’s latest opinion piece diatribe, sure to be prominently placed in The Citizen newspaper, is an example of misinformed and lazy journalism in the highest form. Without researching anything, opinions are reached and uninformed speculation is rampant. My only hope is that this letter is prominently placed near Cal’s “Opinion” piece so readers can get both sides of the story.

I have already noticed a small number of simpaticos to the mayor based on Cal’s opinion piece. This is the power you wield, Cal, but it needs to be correctly focused and you should have done at least a little research to back up your opinion. I found you have done neither. But your opinion is your opinion. No one can change that.

Our inglorious mayor literally tried to sneak through a non-voted on tax payer expenditure hoping no one would notice. Any respectable council member would have freely brought this to the rest of council’s attention. The mayor purposely chose not to.

The mayor whines of non-communication with other council members. Where was the communication about his $10,000 bill to the rest of council? It NEVER happened.

Instead, we on council had to find this expenditure on a single line item buried in a 20 page bulk monthly report. I can pretty much guarantee no citizen would have found it on their own. Our mayor is clearly trying to portray himself as the hapless victim. In fact, it is the taxpayers who would have been the victim had these shenanigans gone unnoticed. Don’t ever forget that.

Cal, you try to paint me as the instigator of this. Guess what Cal, it wasn’t me. I await your apology. When I’m informed of something this egregious, and my fellow council members agree, who’s going to be the one to bring it up?

Since I’m the hawk on the budget it simply made sense for me to do it at the council meeting. How dare you insinuate it was me and only me that brought this to council’s attention? What gives you the right to say that without facts to prove it?

Admit it Cal, you are taking this opportunity to help your newspaper business by dredging up an opinion piece that is sure to be read and garner interest in your paper. You do a disservice however by spoon feeding innuendo to your readers without any background. I guess you’re getting your wish with my letter here. You can thank me later … after you apologize.

Cal, you say there is no legal basis for the council to reduce the mayor’s pay. Please show me your research that proves it. What, you can’t? Well when are you going to correct that misstatement?

Cal, you claim I am trying to humiliate and irreparably wound the mayor. The mayor is not my nemesis.

I see him miserably trying to discredit me with letters and in speeches, but I forgive him. I have come to realize the “confused” state in which the mayor lives.

Notice over the last year and a half I have said nothing negative in the paper about the mayor … until now. Why do you not point that out, Cal? I did, however, see a deceitful mayor try to steal $10,000 from the taxpayers.

I took no pleasure in being the one to make the motion to reduce the mayor’s salary. But somebody on council had to do it, so I did. If you know anything about me by now, you know that I refuse to be politically correct.

Go ahead, try to make my day bad. You won’t be able to because I wasn’t the one sued by a former mayor for slander. The mayor was. I’m not the one being considered for recall. The mayor is. I’m not the one being considered for ethics violations. The mayor is. I’m not the one having their salary reduced because I tried to steal $10,000 from the citizens. The mayor is. I’m not the one running for mayor next year. The mayor is.

Yep, this sorrowful mayor actually thinks the citizens are sympathetic to him because he was the victim. I can’t change that, but surly there are a majority of voting citizens who realize we elected someone totally unprepared to be mayor. There has been absolutely no leadership and clearly no sanity as to recognizing how to develop a budget. If you think otherwise, well, I can’t help you.

Cal, you say there was no due process in council lowering the mayor’s salary. That, Cal, is an outright lie. Did you not see the agenda item in the packet the week before? Where was the mayor’s agenda item to have us pay his bill? I don’t remember seeing that? Did you?

Did you not hear the agenda item called at the council meeting? When was the mayor’s $10,000 expense agenda item called? I don’t remember hearing that one. Did you? Did you not hear council discuss the item? Did you not hear the mayor tried to paint himself as the poor lonely victim?

I don’t remember discussing the mayor’s $10,000 bill in council before it was paid. Did you? Did you not see a motion made and voted 4-1? I don’t remember voting on the mayor’s bill. Did you? What part of council’s action and what part of the mayor’s action is due process?

You have one guess. If you were the mayor I know what the answer would be. If you’re anyone else, I think it’s quite clear.

Cal, you said there was, “no hearing of criminal or ethical charges, no substantive notice, no laying of a legal foundation or establishing what prior council precedents have been consulted and followed. Not even a legal opinion in public from the city attorney.”

Are you lying on purpose or is your lack of investigative responsibility just that lazy? There clearly is no hearing required. Substantive notice was given at the proper time by adding it to the agenda packet the week before. We did not try to hide what was happening. The mayor did with every one of his actions. Every agenda item in the history of PTC council, to my knowledge, has been legally put on the agenda at least 24 hours in advance.

No laying of a legal foundation? Please cite the appropriate law that says we can’t lower any council member’s pay. You can’t because it doesn’t exist.

I did not want to compound the agenda item by bringing up case law. We were there to make a budget decision. I am not a lawyer so I don’t go around telling people this or that is legal or illegal like the mayor. However, I do ask for legal advice (from folks with law degrees) and you better believe I did my homework.

If the mayor thinks he can win a lawsuit he will wind up spending thousands more out of his own pocket because that type of lawsuit is not covered under indemnification. If fact, when he loses the case, I will encourage the city to ask for attorney fees. The mayor will be out even more thousands.

Thanks for whipping up the frenzy of public opinion. Prior council precedents? OK, did you ask for or obtain any precedent setting action in other cities in Georgia? Of course you didn’t, otherwise you would have written something different.

I did my homework. You took the lazy editor way out and didn’t do any homework. I found and documented four different legal opinions, all independently saying the same thing. There’s nothing that prevents a council from lowering salary. Where are your legal opinions saying otherwise?

You’re just spewing opinion, which you have a right to do, but you present it as fact. That is misleading and a disservice to your readers. You’re doing a great job of non-research and spewing speculative horse manure. Remember that politically correct item I mentioned above.

Your opinion piece is like the mayor’s actions. Deceptive. How can anyone present so many skewed opinions, pretend they are fact and spoon feed it to their readers as if they had some knowledge of the subject. Of course you and the mayor can always say anything you want. The mayor can pretend it’s city business (BTW , it’s not) slandering a former mayor.

But when that action results in unauthorized, illegal expenditures of taxpayer money, what is council suppose to do? Just say, “Oh, that’s OK. You made a mistake and we’ll forget about it.”

Is that what you want us to do, Cal? How about asking the mayor why he didn’t avoid all this and simply talk to the former mayor and say, “I was wrong, can we put this behind us?”

What is wrong with someone who can’t do that? There’s something going on here that many of us have come to realize very quickly about the mayor.

We have a mayor who is out of control, wants us to believe he is the victim here, has no experience managing a large number of people, no experience managing a large budget and clearly has no leadership skills. We voted for him and we got what we got.

When the mayor is essentially asking me to personally pay for his stupid actions, I say NO. That’s what he’s doing.

If you (or a group of citizens) want to pay for the mayor’s stupid actions, pay the city the $12,155 he cost us and I’ll consider making a motion to restore the mayor’s salary.

How’s that, Cal? Should I hold my breath? Are you willing to pay for the mayor’s personal stupid mistake? If not, who is? Before last week’s council action, YOU WERE paying for the mayor’s personal stupid mistake.

We need not waste time and taxpayer money suing the mayor for the numerous egregious acts he’s made. We took the least expensive way of making it right for the taxpayers.

Again, I did my homework, but remember, I am not a lawyer. I asked about case law regarding the city’s responsibility for the mayor’s personal slander against the former mayor.

The research revealed case law: Tootle v. Cartee, Citation:280 Ga.App. 428, No. A06A0803. June 20, 2006. It dealt with defamation not being considered city business and was ruled that way, even on appeal. If you had done your homework, Cal, maybe your opinion piece would have been written differently.

Yes, Cal, we could recall him. To what ends? The matter wouldn’t be settled until next year and what would that have gained us? A few months with a temp mayor?

Yes, Cal, ethics charges could be filed. To what ends? Jail time? We’re already getting our money back. Again, the timing would put this well into next year when we vote for a new mayor anyway.

Besides, the mayor could once again run up large legal bills that we the taxpayers would have to pay for his defense. Tell me you really want us to waste our tax dollars that way?

Yes, Cal, we will all be voting our own way on council. If it turns out 4-1 for the next year, so be it. That’s how the majority in this country run things.

I’m usually all for forgiving mistakes, but when that mistake could have resulted in no impact to the taxpayers and when that mistake was compounded by trying to sneak through a $10,000 payment without any notice, then you’re on your own, buddy.

I keep thinking of my January 18, 2011 letter to the editor last year encouraging folks to run for city council. There was an eight step process for running for office. At the end it talked about lawsuits and being protected as a council member. However, the very last sentence was, “Now if you do [do] something stupid, that’s your own problem.” Prophetic, wasn’t it?

I am a professional program manager and engineer. I voluntarily ran for city council. Where were the citizens lining up to run last election? I think this mayor has created an environment where no one wants to have to sit on the same council with him. I’ll be extremely interested to see how many folks run for PTC office next year when they know the mayor’s term will be over. Trust me, better days are ahead and soon.

Eric Imker, councilman
Peachtree City, Ga.