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Johns Creek City Council rift going public

September 17, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – As the Johns City Creek Council draws closer to city elections and the specter of the mayor's investigation lingers in the background, the tension among the councilmembers grows and has one member saying it is causing dysfunction in the council.

It became apparent at council's election Sept. 9 of Councilwoman Karen Richardson to be mayor pro tempore. The vote was 4-2 with Councilwoman Kelly Stewart and Mayor Mike Bodker voting against Richardson.

The post is largely ceremonial and designates who will preside over meetings in the absence of the mayor. Usually one nomination is discussed among councilmembers and in normal times, the outcome is assured. The vote is unanimous with no other candidates nominated to show collegial fellowship and a united front on the council.

But these are not normal times. At the council meeting, Councilwoman Kelly Stewart pointedly broke ranks with fellow councilmembers and joined Bodker to vote against Richardson for mostly the ceremonial post.

Asked after the meeting why she made such a gesture, Stewart's answer put her firmly in Bodker's camp regarding the City Council's investigation of him.

"I could not support anyone being mayor pro tem who has voted to investigate the mayor when there is nothing to investigate," Stewart said. "This investigation feels purely political and the taxpayers are funding this.

"Typically when you vote for a mayor pro tem, you would pick someone who would support the mayor, work with mayor and be in line with the mayor," she said.

Stewart said she does not believe there is any spirit of cooperation with the mayor and therefore can't support it.

"That is part of the dysfunctionality among the council now, and this is just going to perpetuate that," Stewart said.

She admitted that her vote against Richardson was to make a statement that there is a rift now on the council.

"It's very interesting to me that the person nominated for mayor pro tem is the one who has two opponents in this election," she said. "I think the investigation of the mayor is politically motivated, and that has been validated by [former Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem] Bev Miller running for mayor.

"So unfortunately, the majority of the council has brought politics into the policymaking body. And it has created dysfunction," she said.

Richardson bristled at the suggestion that her election was a result of council politics.

"I find it curious that Kelly would suggest that this was political when she offered no comment and no alternative [for the pro tem vote]," Richardson said. "I suppose I could speculate as to why they voted as they did. And perhaps it could have a little something to do with the fact that they support my opponents."

Richardson said the council has over the years "learned to value an independent and direct perspective."

"Either Kelly and the mayor are afraid of that, or they don't value it," Richardson said. "I really don't know which. But I tend to be independent and direct, and my fellow councilmembers have grown to respect that."

She said she was honored to have received the votes of her colleagues for the position.

"It was Kelly who turned this investigation into one of taking sides," Richardson said. "What we have been seeking is information and the truth behind allegations against the mayor. It was Kelly who chose to take a side.

"Yet she took a side when she did not take part in the conversation," she said.

Richardson referred to the June executive session when council discussed and agreed to initiate its investigation of Bodker for unspecified allegations. Stewart was away on vacation that week.

"I think it is really easy to Monday-morning quarterback when you don't have to put your neck out there and make the hard choices," Richardson said.

"And that is exactly what she has done," she said. "I think it is shameful that she would suggest that looking for the truth and the facts behind any allegation is simply political."

Richardson said if there is discord at the table, it comes from her.

"I think people can have discourse without being polarized," she said.

Asked if it is possible to launch such an investigation and not have it be political, Richardson said it does not change anything in the end.

"Minimized or not, it doesn't change it. If you say it is in a political environment, what does that change? I think it changes nothing for the people for whom it is an affront to the mayor. It changes nothing for the people who want the information and who want the truth behind the allegations," Richardson said. "I think it would have been more politically expedient to do what Kelly did, and ask to delay it.

"There is no political gain here for me," she said. "It's about doing the right thing."

Executive Editor, Appen Media.
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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    And the arguing continues
    September 17, 2013 | 09:21 PM

    Is there a point to all of this? It all sounds very personal, which is not a good thing.

    An Observer
    Johns Creek
  2. report print email
    September 18, 2013 | 11:14 PM

    Kelly Stewart: Yes, keep telling yourself that - that M. Bodker is innocent of any charges - because why? Are you privy to all the details of the investigation? Are you a detective?
    Bodker seems to be the dysfunctional member of the city council and serves to be investigated.

    1 voter
    Johns Creek
  3. report print email
    September 18, 2013 | 11:14 PM

    Kelly Stewart: Yes, keep telling yourself that - that M. Bodker is innocent of any charges - because why? Are you privy to all the details of the investigation? Are you a detective?
    Bodker seems to be the dysfunctional member of the city council and serves to be investigated.

    1 voter
    Johns Creek
  4. report print email
    Council is an embarrassment to the Creek
    September 19, 2013 | 08:37 AM

    Kelly Stewart should be commended for staying as far away from this disgusting abuse of power and misuse of tax payer money being comitted by the fantastic five Council members.

    The timing of this mysterious investigation right before Bev Miller announces a run for Mayor is a most beneficial coincidence for her. Before this investigation, the number of households in Johns Creek that knew her name was what, like 20? Now though, this investigation and the media coverage that comes with each orchestrated "action" from the fab five yields Bev Miller all kinds of media coverage she would never have gotten otherwise. Her day job is PR, is that correct? I'm still trying to figure out how she's going to pave everyone's subdivisions and give out unicorns with the 200k City resurfacing budget she just voted to approve. The cost of this investigation, now projected by the council to last until just days before the election (another crazy coincidence), could very well exceed the resurfacing budget.

    Richardson's nomination as Pro Tem... easy "thanks for playing" parting gift from her cronies. It's game over for her in November.

    I'm so relieved we don't have to deal with unethical politicians that put themselves before the citizens in Johns Creek.

    JC Citizen
    Johns Creek
  5. report print email
    Bodker is an Embarrassment
    September 19, 2013 | 10:13 AM

    To the person above: seem to know what the future holds..are you a psychic? LOL
    How do you know that Bodker is innocent? The results are not in yet!

    First of all, Karen Richardson was the ONLY nominee for Mayor Pro Tem. She is very qualified to be the MPT.

    The city is going to receive funds from the LOST tax fund of Atlanta...let's see, Atlanta will divvy up like 34 million dollars per year among the cities. That means that Johns Creek should get a hefty check...Maybe use some of THAT moola to repair our roads?

    JC Homeowner
    Johns Creek
  6. report print email
    To JC Homeowner
    September 19, 2013 | 10:51 AM

    Clearly you are biased with an anti Bodker agenda. My post had nothing to do with the Mayor's guilt or innocence. My issues are purely with the council and how/what they have done here. The council has yet to disclose to anyone what they are investigating. I would have no way whatsoever to form an opinion on guilt. You are right though... with the way shady and secretive way the council is going about this, one would have to be psychic if they claim to know anything of the details of what the is being looked into. So are you psychic since you infer to be in the "know" or on the inside? Seems like a general fishing expedition so far. And what does Richardson being the ONLY nominee have to do with anything? One of her cronies nominates her, they all go along, there you have it. Did you think they would nominate Stewart? LOL.

    JC Citizen
    Johns Creek
  7. report print email
    BTW... thanks for pointing out the
    September 19, 2013 | 10:54 AM

    terrifying reality that this very questionable council and possible future Mayor could be in control of the LOST windfall. Afterall, as this investigation illustrates, they are very responsible stewards of the tax payer's money. Wow.

    JC Citizen
    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    September 20, 2013 | 12:59 PM

    What everyone seems to fail to understand is that when the city holds executive meetings, NO ONE besides the council members have a right to know what transpired or what was spoken.

    The council must keep all the goings on in strict confidentiality. They cannot disclose anything until the investigation is complete. Is that too hard to understand?

    Johns Creek
  9. report print email
    To Investigation:
    September 20, 2013 | 02:33 PM

    Help me understand. Let's say I was at Bonefish seated at a table next to two council persons who were having dinner together (with spouses present) and I overhead them discussing the events during an executive session... If I report what I overheard, can I then demand that the City begin an investigation into these council persons on the grounds that they 1) shared it with their spouses, and 2) discussed it in open earshot of regular citizens in a public place without prudent discretion? Just curious.

    Johns creek
  10. report print email
    September 20, 2013 | 08:16 PM

    I believe what Dennis2 meant was that any information in executive meetings that could BENEFIT someone in any way could be construed as a conflict of interest. I think this is what the lawyer said were some of the potential charges against Bodker.

    Johns creek
  11. report print email
    It just keeps getting more embarrassing for the city
    September 21, 2013 | 04:39 PM

    With every week that passes, the actions of the JC City Council become more embarrassing for the city. We still don't know anything about the allegations. The investigator hired by the city spoke at Thursday's special council meeting, but only referenced unspecified conflicts of interest during his remarks. Why should Bodker turn over any documents to the investigator when Bodker has not been informed of the charges? He is right in asking for the specific allegations before he turns over any requested documents. And speaking of Thursday's special meeting, Kelly Stewart asked Karen Richardson at the beginning of the meeting why a special meeting had been called when a regular meeting was scheduled for Monday. Richardson could not answer the question, but she was one of the four council members who approved the call for the special meeting. What kind of leadership is she offering the city? The residents of Johns Creek need to take a close look at this circus and replace the city council members who called for this investigation.

    Frustrated JC Citizen
    Johns Creek
  12. report print email
    More embarassing?
    September 23, 2013 | 07:27 PM

    Is it any more of an embarrassment for the city with the mayor refusing to submit his records?

    Bodker knows the charges, as do most of us, because they have been on the news, in the newspapers, and on the internet.

    His records were subpoenaed because of his refusing to submit these records. More embarrassment for the city and more expense CAUSED BY Bodker.

    Johns creek
  13. report print email
    WOW...WOW...WOW...Everyone should read this....
    September 24, 2013 | 11:08 AM

    The "attorney/investigator" for Bev and the City Council was forced to publicly admit HE LIED LAST WEEK ABOUT BODKER not cooperating! At the council meeting last night, he was forced to tell the truth on the record during session. Turns out... it had only been 15 days since they officially requested the documents from the Mayor, not the famous 40 quoted over and over last week in front of the news cameras. He was also asked then if it had been 15 days why the "emergency special meeting" two days before the regular meeting to compell a supoena? After lots of dodging and spinning, he finally said something very close to "because I asked for it and I wanted the documents". HUH? We had two council persons request and second an over 1k emergency meeting on those grounds? Sounds like the attorney fell on the sword for all of them. And there was more... much more. When questioned, it also appears that the "investigator" was hired and began interviewing BEFORE the City Council met and voted to authorize the hiring of an attorney. He was asked "since you work for the city council, who contacted you and authorized you to begin an investigation"? Drom roll... answer: City Mgr John Kachmar! Questions were also raised about why there wasn't an RFQ for the hiring of an attorney? Then about how Randall Johnson may know Bob Wilson or his law firm and whether Johnson has any direct relationships with the firm. I'm guessing someone will make sure the public gets a specific answer to that soon. It's impossible to recap all the seedy info and unanswered questions that came out last night about this investigation. Oh, and Karen Richardson was accused of violating the City Charter last night by voting to fund an organization that she sits on the Board of (you can't do that). Not pretty for the council last night at all. As for me, after seeing and hearing everything, there is no longer any doubt in my mind that this is entire dubious affair is a an orchestrated political ploy to get Bev Miller elected by tarnishing the reputation of the Mayor. It's ugly, and it's very expensive for all us. I forgot... the allegations I saw out here that it was Mike Bodker's misuse of the police department... the council said on the record last night the investigation had nothing to do with that. Say what? So whoever that was beating the "Bodker bullies and misuses the police" drum can now stand officially standed corrected by the City Council themselves.
    It's tough being a supporter of the city council on this deal, they will just keep making you look like a fool and a kool-aid drinker.

  14. report print email
    Quote from Randall Johnson regarding police
    September 24, 2013 | 01:28 PM

    Quoted from Neighbor newspaper on August 28th in article titled (Bodker investigation continues, could go until November). Quote: "Though he did not want to name the situation which brought him to the breaking point, Johnson disclosed some of the unsubstantiated allegations against Bodker include that he directed staff and police in violation of the charter, he bullied or threatened staff and their jobs, and he received benefits outside those stated in the charter."

    ***This quote add as reference info to my previous post***

  15. report print email
    September 24, 2013 | 02:45 PM

    15 days, 40 days, 3 days, who cares. The mayor is not cooperating. End of story.

    Johns creek
  16. report print email
    For me, it does matter
    September 24, 2013 | 04:26 PM

    I have been trying to understand this whole mess and figure out what is actually going on. For me, it's a very big deal that the Mayor had only been asked 15 days prior to the supoena to gather and provide an enormous amount of personal information. When the people are lied to, it really, really matters to me.

    Johns Creek
  17. report print email
    It's not for us
    September 25, 2013 | 03:36 PM

    It's not for us to figure out. It is the attorney's, the subpoenas', and then the court of law's jobs to figure that out. We can't figure out anything until all the information that the attorney is requiring is turned over.

    Johns creek
  18. report print email
    At this point, it's clear
    September 28, 2013 | 12:56 PM

    WITCH HUNT: 1) a rigorous campaign to round up or expose dissenters on the pretext of safeguarding the welfare of the public, 2) An investigation carried out to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views.

    John Johnson
    Johns Creek
  19. report print email
    To John
    September 29, 2013 | 07:23 PM

    Not a witch hunt. It is an investigation into the wrong doings of Bodker. Of which he is charged. Too bad Bodker didn't keep his nose clean in the first place.

    Johns Creek
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