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June 25, 2013JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – After the Johns Creek City Council fired off a broadside at Mayor Mike Bodker, convening an "investigation" of unspecified charges, the mayor is firing back.
He says he believes the motive behind the council's investigation is to lay the groundwork to "vote me off the island."
By that, he meant to take the unusual step of ousting an elected member of City Council for cause. Bodker pointed to such a move by the Stockbridge City Council in 2012 that under that city's charter could remove the mayor with a majority vote. This they did alleging incompetence, negligence and intentional misconduct by that mayor.
Bodker said he thinks that is the road the council will ultimately follow to remove him from office.
"But their allegations won't wash. What they are counting on is for the citizens to be asleep at the wheel," Bodker said.
The Johns Creek Council did not reveal specific grievances it has with Bodker, only saying that the investigation concerned "violating the city's charter and ethics ordinance."
To that end, the council has hired a Decatur law firm, Wilson Morton and Downs, to conduct the investigation.
"This action follows several reprimands of Mayor Bodker about certain questionable actions he's taken over the last several years," said City Councilmember Randall Johnson. "Unfortunately, that approach didn't work and now the council is left with no other choice but to turn to the investigative process as allowed under the city's charter."
In a statement Johnson released, he said the city charter specifically states that the mayor represents the will of the council.
"However, there have been allegations that he's repeatedly involved himself in actions and situations that were outside the will of council," Johnson said.
Once the investigation is completed, a report will be made available to the public at that time, he said.
Bodker said he did not quarrel with the notion that his views and the council's views have often been at odds, but he questioned whether that meant he could not express his own views however contrary that might be "to the will of the council," when speaking expressly for himself.
"Ultimately, I am accountable to the people, not to the council," he said.
The friction between the council and himself is in the city charter, which is a "strong mayor" system, he said.
"They have developed a hubris among them that they know best. They are bent on reducing the power and authority of the mayor because of me. It is just part of a bigger pattern actually," he said.
It is evidenced in their inability to get along with any of the neighboring cities. He gave as three examples:
• The council's unwillingness to undertake the cross-swearing of officers with Alpharetta, which would allow them to send officers into Ocee Park. Since Ocee Park is completely inside Alpharetta, its residents are the ones who usually call about suspicious activity in the park. But council calls it a "liability issue," and has steadfastly refused their sister city's request.
• The council declined to participate in the new public safety radio net with the North Fulton cities due to objections in how the project was bid. Nevertheless, everyone admits it would be better to be in the net with its contiguous cities than with Fulton County or Forsyth County – the only other available partners in cost sharing.
• The council has pulled out of the Brumbelow Road traffic light project because members were incensed when Roswell questioned the way Johns Creek Public Works was installing the light. Rather than clear up the differences, council withdrew its work order and literally left tens of thousands of dollars in equipment by the side of the road.
"The issue was not so much whether we were right or wrong in those instances. It is the way we reacted. We were rude and accusatory. We have not been good neighbors lately," said Bodker.
If he has rubbed council members the wrong way, it was because he was trying to do what is best for the city and its citizens, he said.
"I'm a hard charger and a worker," Bodker said. "I believe the mayor's job is to lead, and that is what I try to do. That is why I am involved at the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"That is why I have been appointed to committees by the governor and the lieutenant governor. That is because I have earned my stripes doing the work that is involved – by being knowledgeable, being a strong voice of advocacy."
He said he has earned respect and respect for the city around the state. He was elected second vice president GMA and is on track to become the first North Fulton mayor to be president of GMA in its 80-year history.
"I would say that is a measure of what I'm doing. But the City Council doesn't see it that way," Bodker said.
If things get shaken up, things can get broken, he said.
"But that is part of leadership," he said. "And as mayor, I'm not going to apologize for leading."
Bodker said he will defend himself "vigorously" against any charges, but he calls the investigation a waste of taxpayer money.
"If they have ethics charges to bring against me, then there is prescribed method for bringing those charges forward," he said. "And they don't cost the taxpayers a lot of money. Let them file specific charges if they like. This investigation is open-ended. That is why it looks like a witch hunt to me."
This was published in the June 27 issue of the Revue & News.
Executive Editor, Appen Media.
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