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CH2M Hill cancels city party after owner speaks out

Accuses retaliation for comments at council meeting

October 25, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Residents may wonder what it might cost them to speak their minds at a City Council public comment section, but Chris Cupit, whose family owns Rivermont Country Club, says he knows how much it cost him when he spoke to at the Oct. 22 City Council meeting – about $15,000.

CH2M Hill, the company that handles much of the outsourcing of jobs for Johns Creek, has cancelled the annual Christmas party for city employees and CH2M Hill employees who work for the city. Rivermont had hosted the party for eight years in a row and CH2M Hill had hosted the Christmas party. The company had put down a $5,000 deposit for this year.

They said the reason for the sudden change is employees had been asking a change of venue for the party.

Cubit stood up at the council meeting to add his concerns about the inappropriate behavior of City Manager John Kachmar and Councilman Randall Johnson. He related his experiences in his personal dealings with City Manager John Kachmar.

Weeks before the incident involving Kachmar in an altercation with two citizens critical of the city's lack of response to information requests, Cupit said he contacted Kachmar to help in his attempts to get a wait staffer a pouring license to work in the country club's dining room. She had a misdemeanor arrest as a teenager that was preventing her from obtaining a license to serve in the dining room.

"She is a great young woman who is going to school and needs a job. She's really turned her life around," Cupit said.

Cupit said he his phone calls went unreturned, but Kachmar did return a letter requesting a phone interview. In two discussions with Kachmar, he said he was inappropriately profane and was unprofessional in handling what Cupit thought was a reasonable request.

Cupit also said Johnson, whom he had supported in past elections, not only asked Cupit to support him this year but to report any information he had about the mayor to Robert Wilson, the attorney heading up the council's investigation, and gave him Wilson's card.

"I told Randall I didn't want to get involved in anything political. I also told him that I wasn't going to support him this year. I didn't like this investigation, and I have known Lenny Zaprowski [Johnson's opponent for the council seat] for many years and would vote for him too."

Two days after he spoke at the council meeting, Cupit received an email from Wayne P. Wright, program director at CH2M HILL, confirming the company was canceling the party.

"The reason we are cancelling 52 days in advance is that many staff have told us they will not participate in an event held at your facility. We have had complaints for the past two years because we have held the party at the same venue over and over again. The staff has made it clear that we need to move to a different location," Wright wrote.

He then asked for the return of the CH2M Hill $5,000 deposit paid in September to reserve Saturday night.

Asked if CH2M Hill was changing the venue because of the way Cupit spoke out at council, Wright said no.

"We've had a number of folks over the years complain that we go to the same place every year. So we just decided to mix it up a bit," Wright said in a phone interview.

Asked if it wasn't too coincidental that the cancellation came on the heels of his speaking out, Wright said his email explained the rationale.

Wright was asked if complaints were so bad, why re-book this year and put down a deposit? Wright said they heard additional complaints from employees after booking the venue and decided to change it.

"We are asking for our deposit back because he still has time to book the weekend," Wright said.

Cupit said it is quite late to book the date, since most event planners book months in advance. He hasn't decided whether to return the deposit as requested.

"I am just very disappointed about all of this. I never wanted to get involved in politics at all. We have lived here for 41 years, and I was honored to serve on the committee to form Johns Creek. I wanted to be part of the new city.

"Now it seems you can't even speak up if you feel you have to without retaliation."

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

  1. report print email
    Who does Johnson work for now?
    October 25, 2013 | 02:11 PM

    This is terrible and I'm sorry that a citizen feels this way. Retaliation by anyone from any organization is very unprofessional and I would love to see Johns Creek turned around after the election. I am concerned though, about who Mr Johnson works for? Is it thr citizens of Johns Creek or is it for the firm that Mr. Wilson works? Passing out business cards for Mr Wilson looks like he is investigating and looking for things. Could this possible describe the "witchhunt" that is taking place in the city? Just a thought......

    Johns creek
  2. report print email
    minor correction
    October 25, 2013 | 05:27 PM

    Thank you for the report. One slight correction is that the server was not a teenager--her misdemeaner mistake was within five years of her applying for a permit. But she had recently applied for and received her permit from Roswell and I was confused as to why Rosawell gave her a permit and Johns Creek would not--that was the reason for my original call to the city.

    I know the city is now saying that they were looking for sights on Oct. 17th before I spoke on the 21st. Well, on the 16th I sent an e-mail to Randall Johnson and the entire city council relaying my bad experience with John and my frustration that the council had not acted on John's Oct. 7th behavour. I made it clear I would be speaking out on the 21st.

    The city claims that no staff was made aware of this letter. If that is true Rosemary Taylor's langauge that they looked for alternative venues because employees were "uncomfortable" coming to my club (after five straight years) seems odd. Uncomfortable why? If it truly was about wanting a different place, why use the word "uncomfortable"?

    Here is my opinion:

    After months of working out the details of this year's party (confirmed dates in July, met with staff and party vendors and did walk throughs with staff and the band and others, received partial payment and a deposit on Sept. 9th) we were all set and ready to host the event.

    I alert the council to my planned comments on the 16th and someone alerts staff that I may be speaking out against their boss.

    They start calling the next day in case I actually do speak out and the next business day we are open after I speak out, the city calls to cancel!

    I will leave it to you to etermine who is telling the truth!

    Chris Cupit
    Johns Creek
  3. report print email
    October 25, 2013 | 05:28 PM

    Sorry--I thought my name was listed--Chris Cupit

    Chris Cupit
  4. report print email
    October 25, 2013 | 05:50 PM

    I thought that members of the Johns Creek City Council had reached an embarrassingly low level of pettiness in releasing details of their apparently largely mythical issues with Mayor Bodker only days before the upcoming election. But no! The seemingly spiteful decision regarding the venue for the city's Christmas Party has plumbed new depths. Is this Middle School?! I am embarrassed for the anti-Bodker faction in the government of our otherwise lovely new city. Lets all just try to behave as grow ups, shall we?

    Johns Creek
  5. report print email
    October 25, 2013 | 05:54 PM

    I did want to point out that I have offered to return $4500 of the $5000 to the city.

    We do ask for a $500 non refundable deposit but our deposit works this way:

    If I can re-book the December 14th date I will return the final $500. If I can't re-book that $500 deposit the city would have one full year--until Dec. 14, 2014 to re-book another event at my club (dinner, luncheon, breakfast...) and they could apply all of the $500 towards that event.

    My family business has always offered that to our events and despite the city's actions, we are not going to change how we do business. I e-mailed Wayne Wright on 10-24 letting him know this and I am bringing him the check for $4500 this upcoming Wednesday.

    Chris Cupit
    Johns Creek
  6. report print email
    Johns Creek Melt Down
    October 26, 2013 | 10:31 AM

    After receiving Bev Miller's campaign letter in the mail yesterday ... and all she did was bad mouth our mayor I know I will not vote for her. She had but a simple single paragraph explaining what she would do as mayor. The entire balance of her two page tirade simply outlined her "allegations" against the mayor. There are NO criminal charges.

    What a sad state of affairs the city council has created in JC. They have nothing to charge Bodker with and have resorted to public bashing since there could not possibly be any legal charges against the mayor.

    Bev - you timed this perfectly in front of the election. What an underhanded and evil person you are.

    Mayor Bodker has worked tirelessly for the better part of a decade to build Johns Creek into the great city that is is.

    Bev Miller and the other council members are tearing this city apart.

    Se ya in the polls.

    Johns Creek
  7. report print email
    Whoaaa Wait Now
    October 26, 2013 | 05:39 PM

    What is a vendor doing paying for a city party? I thought there were strict laws concerning vendor gifts for city officials. Does this 5k fall within the legal guidelines? So the cancer spreads. As if Kachmar, Taylor and council weren't allegedly dealing out retribution in epic levels by themselves, now vendors of the city are being dragged into the mess? They are all out of their minds. CH2M Hill may talk to their former employee, John Kachmar on a regular, but WE fund the fees paid to them. Great. Another possibly improper relationship to deal with! Think of the absurdity. We actually voted into office people that would turn the entirety of the citys' resources against citizens if it was to their personal benefit. Outrageous. This has to stop. Please, everyone get out and vote no matter what it takes.

    Fred Baker
  8. report print email
    Isn't Kachmar a former CH2M Hill employee?
    October 27, 2013 | 03:37 PM

    Wasn't cussin' Kachmar an employee of CH2M Hill when JC hired him? I'm sure they are very impartial.

    Jane S
  9. report print email
    On the right track
    October 27, 2013 | 03:40 PM

    Fred--you are on the right track and I hope interested citizens will not let this issue drop.

    What is the REAL reason Kachmar is untouchable? Why won't Bev, Randall, Ivan or Karen speak out?

    CH2MHill pays about $5,000 towards the $15-$17,000 party every year. To be clear my club provides the food and drink (no rental or site fees...). Part of this total cost that goes to the entire $17k party amount is other vendors as well--florist, valet parking, entertainment, games(the theme has often been a "Casino Night" so a gaming vendor brings in blackjack tables, craps tables etc. They are NOT playing for real money) and prizes.

    There is a lot more to this story. I am a VERY small part of it for sure.

    Stay interested and keep demanding accountability. But be careful, the city will retaliate :)

    Chris Cupit
    Johns Creek
  10. report print email
    Wait until all the Cards are Played
    October 28, 2013 | 06:05 PM

    Folks, the investigation is far from over.

    Already there are several well-documented causes to be concerned about Bodker's pattern of behavior and personal dealings w/ developers where he should have excluded himself from voting at all--much less n the developer's favor.

    As this investigation has legs, the bad rap the city is getting could go on for months.

    Might I suggest we wait and see before jumping to conclusions--one way or another?

    But I am holding off judgement until all the cards are on the table. There is more to be seen, here.

    Just Mean & Nasty
    Johns Creek
  11. report print email
    Bad Poker
    October 29, 2013 | 01:55 PM

    Mean & Nasty,

    "Cards on the table?" The Johns Creek City Council needs to stop playing political poker and start running a city. Is that really what Johns Creek residents want - a bunch of politicians spending their time vying for power and position?

    Boot them out!!

    Former JC'er
  12. report print email
    October 29, 2013 | 08:18 PM

    Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, it does. What more can JC city hall and council people do to embarrass the city even more? This is amazing.

    Johns Creek
  13. report print email
    Tell it like it REALLY was!
    October 31, 2013 | 01:50 PM

    OK Mr. Cupit lets get the story more truthful:
    1) You contacted Mr. Kachmar for a special favor (Good Old Boys Club method) and John would have none of it as he is NOT THE TYPE OF INDIVIDUAL THE CURRENT MAYOR HAS BECOME. You were pissed!
    2) Many more employees had already been declining to go to the holiday party at your facility because the FOOD QUALITY HAS BEEN GETTING WORSE AND WORSE AND YOUR WAIT STAFF HAS BECOME "LESS THAN GRACIOUS" AND YOUR FACILITY HAS BECOME MORE AND MORE RUN DOWN. Your distorted attack on John and Randall was just icing on the awful cake you have been serving. The invitees now declined to attend in mass. What good is throwing a party when no one wants to come.

    Its time more people started to pay attention to the observations of the hard working city staff about their motivator and leader and less to the BS that comes from those who expect favors from the current Mayor!

    Johns Creek Supporter
    Johns Creek
  14. report print email
    I can't wait :)
    October 31, 2013 | 07:17 PM

    I have little doubt the entire story will have ample opportunity to be told. I welcome it. You will see that your city behaved quite poorly and certainly unethically.

    I never asked for a favor for myself or my business--I had a potential server who had recently received her pourer's permit in Roswell, and yet a week later was denied it in Johns Creek and I simply was asking 1. Why--what is the standard and 2. Is there an appeal process and, if so, what is it.

    The great thing is that I sent this in not just by phone but in a letter as well so there is a written record of my request!

    As for my attacks--John's actions this year and throughout his "distinguished" City Manager career speak for themselves. Randall's support of him tells me he is not someone that deserves the role of representing and serving the citizens of Johns Creek.

    PS My issue is not now, nor has it ever been with staff. The only person who has behaved poorly on staff that I am aware of and who I would like to see fired is John Kachmar.

    Chris Cupit
    Johns Creek
  15. report print email
    One quick question
    October 31, 2013 | 07:26 PM

    IF the city employees felt this way then why did they re-book for a fifth consecutive year?

    IF there really was this ground swell to go somewhere else the city employees certainly knew the woman in charge of the party year after year--why not simply say--hey, how about let's go somewhere ele this year?

    There is no answer just as there is no defending the indefensible--but keep trying :)

    Chris Cupit
    Johns Creek
  16. report print email
    October 31, 2013 | 07:42 PM

    Johns Creek Supporter,

    As I read your post again, it seems as if you prove my point that the city retaliated.

    You say, "Your distorted attack on John and Randall was just icing on the awful cake you have been serving. The invitees now declined to attend in mass. What good is throwing a party when no one wants to come."

    You seem to have first hand knowledge and am I correct is summing up by saying that the party was in fact cancelled because many on staff were upset I called out Randall and asked for John's resignation?

    That is exactly the point I have been making! Thank you :) If you can confirm this point that would be most appreciated in the future. Thank goodness IP addressess can't completely shield those "brave souls" who post comments anonymously :)

    Chris Cupit
    Johns Creek
  17. report print email
    November 12, 2013 | 10:28 PM

    Someone doesn't get their way and naturally they assume there is a conspiracy against them. Mabye this club should focus on bettering their business instead of trying to drag others through the mud. Mabye trying to avoid hiring criminals and leaking stupid I'm pouting stories which lead to bad publicity. Just my two cents...

    Random Dude
    Not Johns Creek
  18. report print email
    Back to English class
    December 02, 2013 | 03:13 AM

    Mr. Hurd should really try to remember his lessons from Intro to English Comp #101 class. Aside from the substantive faults of the article, there are numerous typos and other obvious grammatical/style errors. A simple proof reading by any one with a pulse would have gotten most of them (hint: try MS Word or OpenOffice), which shows me Mr. Hurd published an article without even a first draft. Unacceptable for the Appen Media Group's Executive Editor. Rank laziness.

    Johns Creek
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