Snellville mayor dismisses attorney

SNELLVILLE -- No, it isn't deja vu all over again.

Snellville's mayor has once again dismissed the city attorney, 13 months after Tony Powell lost the job the first time.

But after a lengthy letter questioning his professionalism, Powell is not taking the firing lightly.

In fact, Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts says the city council does not believe the mayor has the power to fire the city attorney at all, causing another battle over the position months after the city council refused to pay the mayor's pick for the job.

"I can confirm that I have appointed Cruser & Mitchell as the new interim city attorney. It is common practice for the mayor to make appointments at the end/beginning of each calendar year," Mayor Kelly Kautz said in an email. "Several factors influenced my decision. The biggest factor is that the city has consistently been over its monthly budget for legal fees after receiving bills for approximately $14,000 for August work, $17,000 for October work and $23,000 for November work. Given the current economic times and my stewardship of the city budget, I feel it is in the best interest of the city and the taxpayers to conduct a search for a new city attorney."

But in a letter to Powell about the dismissal, Kautz said the city attorney has pushed for lawsuits instead of giving opinions on city matters and did not learn about a suit filed against ethics watchdog George Anderson until reading about it in the Daily Post.

Kautz declined to discuss the letter, saying Powell has threatened a defamation suit.

Powell did not return a phone call and email seeking comment Tuesday.

Witts said council members who back Powell believe the mayor does not have the power to remove him from office without a vote, and that cannot happen until the city council meets again Jan. 14.

"He's a capable attorney. He hasn't done anything wrong," Witts said, adding that the dismissal letter had "an awful lot of speculations, half-truths and inneundos."

He denied Kautz's accusations that four members of the city council met in violation of the Open Records Act. In fact, Kautz attended a meeting called by three councilman after she refused to call for it. Another vote she questioned occurred after she left an open meeting early, he said.

The city has struggled to keep an attorney over the past year, since Powell left in November 2011. The Lawrenceville councilman returned in April, after the council refused to approve payments to another Kautz pick and another attorney served a short tenure.

Kautz said she would begin taking resumes and appoint a permanent city attorney in the new year.


R says...

You folks looking to unseat GJAC as the source of local entertainment?

Sell the popcorn franchises!
This is almost as good as pay-per-view wrestling, Second City television or maybe even Clayton Co...

Posted 18 December 2012, 11:26 p.m. Suggest removal

CGHSgrad says...

R- you are correct. This mayor is an embarrasment to the city of snellville.

Posted 19 December 2012, 7:48 a.m. Suggest removal

BrendaLee says...

So if another firm shows up, will they get paid?

Kautz appears to be using the city cofers to fund her legal opinions, which seem to be contrary to most of her peers.

Posted 19 December 2012, 11:08 a.m. Suggest removal

Danielle says...

I have not posted in a long time because the nonsense in snellville goes on and on but this is a new kind of crazy. The more I read the more I dont understand how this poor excuse for a person got elected. She is like a spoiled little brat that will say anything and do anything to get what she wants and does not care at all about the city. She is more than an embarrassment she is a liability Kennethstepp is right she is not fit for being mayor.

Posted 19 December 2012, 11:28 a.m. Suggest removal

MichelleCouch says...

Danielle, No one in Snellville, and neighboring communities, will ever understand how Kautz was elected. Snellville voters made a serious error in judgment when electing Kautz over Barbara Bender. Now they pay the piper. Anyone who has witnessed Kautz over the years as a council member finds her behavior as Mayor, "typical" and "same old - same old".

Ken - most in Snellville know exactly who is in the Kautz regime :)

Posted 19 December 2012, 12:15 p.m. Suggest removal

jack says...

Kautz was elected by the same masochistic voters who keep reelecting Balfour, Johnson, Woodall, etc.

Posted 19 December 2012, 7:11 p.m. Suggest removal

news2me says...

Her next abuse of power just might lead to *Kautzville*.

She is her own worst enemy.

Posted 19 December 2012, 12:52 p.m. Suggest removal

R says...

Maybe we can move "it" to the Jersey Shore?

Posted 19 December 2012, 8:50 p.m. Suggest removal

lawmon says...

Tony Powell is an excellent attorney. Snellville should be pleased to have an attorney of his caliber who is willing to represent it. The Mayor is out of line. Her behavior is giving the City a bad name and worse, exposing the City to liability because of her actions.

Posted 19 December 2012, 3:08 p.m. Suggest removal

SurelyNot says...

Can't vote in Snellville, but just curious: how many terms has this mayor served? It seems like Snellville is always in the news for something rediculous. It seems like there is continuous fighting (decades worth) and actions that result in such a bad reputation for the city. Don't the residents know how all this makes the city look? Compare Snellville and the potential it had with the progress and growth of Suwanee. Something has gone terribly awry.

Posted 19 December 2012, 9:03 p.m. Suggest removal

MichelleCouch says...

Surely Not - This is the first term for Kautz; prior, she served two terms (I think) as a council member. Prior to Kautz, Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer served two terms, and Mayor Brett Harrell served one term prior to Jerry.

Before Mayor Brett Harrell, Mayor Emmett Clower had been in office for over 20-something years. Clower and several of his old-time Snellville supporters are the force behind Kautz.

I interviewed Kautz (for my old newspaper) when she first ran for office. I warned her of the Clower force that wanted to regain control of Snellville. Kautz stated that she was going to remain independent. That did not last very long, unfortunately.

If Kautz had not aligned herself with the Clower faction, I feel that she may have actually been an okay council member. She does sometimes suggest some great ideas - but her follow-through has usually been lacking.

Effective leaders surround themselves with good people who are willing to serve for the right reasons; Kautz is a definite example of what not to do. This aspect coupled with the God complex that she consistently demonstrates is extremely harmful for the City.

I am in total agreement with another poster; Tony Powell has always demonstrated absolute professionalism and wisdom while representing Snellville. His reputation is impeccable. A City could not do better.

The real issue is that he is does not play favorites and does not cower to Kautz. He actually does his job as it should be done.

We can only pray that Kautz will be a one-term Mayor.

Posted 20 December 2012, 8:37 a.m. Suggest removal

SurelyNot says...

Thanks for the great explanation, MichelleCouch. Is there someone worthwhile to run for mayor and who has the guts, finesse, and courage to change the status quo and instill some dignity to the office in Snellville? I think that is a starting point for turning around the complete breakdown of respect that the office should hold. The city needs terribly to be progressive, safe, and become a leader of development. I've lived in the area for over 40 years and Snellville had so many great lay leaders for so long. The one thing the Clower people accomplished was the park. But other than that, they would have preferred that Snellville remain stuck in the 50s, 60s. Time and opportunity passed Snellville by. Such a shame. For as long as I have lived in the area, Snellville folks have been fighting.

Posted 23 December 2012, 9:33 p.m. Suggest removal