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Johns Creek Council members shed light on mayoral charges

Answer critics'charges of secrecy

August 06, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- At the Aug. 5 City Council meeting some nine citizens – many supporters of Mayor Mike Bodker – chastised the City Council for its reluctance to come forward with some tangible allegations against the mayor.

After the council meeting, those detractors got what they asked for.

Resident Bob Frame said the investigation was tainting the image of Johns Creek, while Norman Board came forward to say he was "frustrated at being kept in the dark" by council.

"If we had some idea of what he's done, we could get some idea that the money we're spending is worth it," Board said.

One resident told the council to "put up or shut up." Resident Don Hiltner said it appeared council "was trying to micromanage the mayor."

After weeks of pressure to be more forthcoming, the council members decided to break their silence.

Councilwoman Karen Richardson said the council had taken on the role of "protectors" of the city during the investigation.

"We find ourselves in a pickle or a quandary because in the years on the board we have become very protective of the community and the perception people have of the city," Richardson said. "We wanted to handle things quietly rather than disclose things that would be embarrassing to the mayor.

"Perhaps we've gone overboard in being protective."

After the meeting Richardson and Councilwoman Bev Miller held an impromptu press conference in the meeting room to spell out in general terms at least some of the allegations the mayor is facing.

Among the charges under investigation are that the mayor had direct involvement in police affairs and that he bullied staff, even going so far as to threaten their livelihood. Other allegations under investigation are that the mayor may have "crossed the line" in asking favors of people with business in the city.

He is alleged to have pushed forward a personal agenda and personal goals versus the city's public agenda.

Miller said this all came to a head at the council's retreat May 10. That is what is driving this investigation before the elections.

"So we got on [the allegations] right away, and now we're getting beaten up for it," Miller said. "We thought the potential costs without going forward would be far greater than the costs of not investigating. That's what we're afraid of."

Councilman Randall Johnson said they have been getting many calls of support for the investigation.

Richardson said it was not their intent to make the allegations public, but she felt they had choice given the public voice to know more.

"How can that unsubstantiated information be helpful to those who support the mayor? How can that be helpful to his character, his legacy as a mayor," she emailed later. "We have been under attack for being silent. Do people really believe that it isn't more prudent, decent and frankly respectful, to allow the investigation to come to a conclusion of fact rather than speculation? I really believed it was the more appropriate path. But I am left asking myself, if even the mayor and his supporters don't want the benefit of a concluded, factual investigation, then who are we protecting?"

Told of the allegations, Bodker said it was hard to respond to general statements.

"But I know I don't get involved in police matters. I know that I have a great deal of respect for our staff and how great our team is. I even encouraged any member of our team to speak openly about any issue without fear of retribution," he said. "I don't believe any of these [allegations] are true."

Bodker said what disturbs him is the way the council seems to demand strict orthodoxy once they have taken a stance on an issue.

"Many of the actions taken by the council tell a different story to me," Bodker said. "I think they are not looking out for the best interests of the citizens. They could have handled this investigation that would not be so costly to the city.

"You can look at the way we have treated our neighbors which creates ill-will with neighboring governments. It's not about whether we're right, but how we conduct ourselves in the process."

He said council is potentially abridging free speech because council may not want to hear the message that comes with it.

"It inhibits discourse on issues. It's the antithesis of why we formed this city. In their world, you can't advocate. You get nailed for just raising the question," Bodker said.

This article was published in the Aug. 7 Johns Creek Herald.

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

  1. report print email
    Still don't see the light
    August 06, 2013 | 10:33 PM

    This article, for all its words, still sheds no light on the issue. It seems we need to vote out the Mayor and the city council to clear up this problem. They have all been there too long. If they truly cared about the city instead of themselves they would all move on.

    An observer
    Johns Creek
  2. report print email
    Give us all the specific charges
    August 07, 2013 | 01:13 PM

    Mr. Hurd, in every article you have written regarding the investigation of the Mayor, you make it a point to label those requesting the council spell out the specific charges against the mayor as supporters of the mayor. I do not understand why this needs to be mentioned or even matters? Who a person either does or does not support has absolutely no relevance to the fact that the citizens of Johns Creek are asking for transparency from their elected officials. I am not a supporter of the mayor and support the investigation of the mayor if he has violated his oath of office, but I also feel in the interest of full transparency all the charges should be laid out with specifics. Trust in all elected officials is at an all time low, and the hiding of the facts to “protect” the city and city officials’ image is not up to the council to decide for the citizens. By presenting all the charges specifically up front and providing a completely transparent and objective investigation can trust in the city’s elected officials begin to be repaired. At that time the citizens can decide for themselves if this was a political witch hunt or if the mayor violated the trust of the people who elected him. The only thing I as a Johns Creek citizen is interested in is the truth and that can only be obtained by examining all the facts not just those the council wants us to see.

    Johns Creek Citizen
    Johns Creek
  3. report print email
    JC Citizen
    August 07, 2013 | 06:36 PM

    Hiding the facts? What don't you understand about the law.

    The investigation must be properly conducted with information obtained legally. Then you see what rules or laws were violated. Then and only then can charges be brought forward.

    Everyone will be able to see those since it will be "public".

    If you go onto other sites, you will see potential charges against the mayor for threatening the JCPD and other unethical matters.

  4. report print email
    There are no facts to hide
    August 09, 2013 | 10:04 PM

    Hello, your comment about keeping the investigation secret is completely wrong. This is not a criminal investigation by the DA but a non criminal investigation by a private law firm. Of course we have the right to know what is going on since we as taxpayers are paying for it and it involves an elected official of our city. The result of the investigation, if anything legitimate comes of it, would not be criminal charges but a removal from office not jail time.

    When Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon were up for impeachment the charges and accusations were very public. No hiding and there should be no hiding now. Iran Contra scandal the same way, etc. etc.

    In fact, if there was really anything material to this matter a local private law firm would not be doing the digging but rather the FBI or GBI or similar agency.

    As best I can tell our city council is made up of overgrown micro managers who don't like the fact the mayor might not agree or support their every position. So what? This is politics.

    The Mayor does not work for the city council. He is independently elected by the people of Johns Creek. If the people don't like what he is doing then the people can vote the mayor out. Instead, it appears the city council is trying to trump up some charges to have the excuse for an removal from office or to sully his name right before an election.

    Does Obama do what Congress wants all the time? Heck Obama won't even instruct the Department of Justice to defend Federal laws he does not agree with even though they are the law of the land! I have heard of no charge against the mayor of intentionally violating a Johns Creek law. Does Governor Deal toe the line of whatever the GA legislature thinks is their "policy"? Answer- No.

    I could be dead wrong and perhaps there really is meat to this investigation. But the fact that the City Council can barely even explain the issue uses vague generalities means to me there is no real issue. To initiate the investigation of a elected official who may also be a political opponent without detailed charges or accusations is open to rife political maneuvering and that appears to be the case here.

    If the final finding is the mayor for example still discussed or advocated for things like a bridge that the city counsel decided against is not improper. That's just politics by an independently elected official advocating for what he believe in. By comparison, no matter what Congress passes President Obama is under no obligation to agree with it or not fight to overturn it. This happens all the time in a democracy.

    I am not an insider and are not allied with any of the parties involved but I can say that the decisions and approach of our city counsel on this matter make me think they are the ones that should be removed.

  5. report print email
    August 13, 2013 | 10:52 PM

    You want to know what the charges against the mayor are? Well, after the investigation is completed, maybe we will know the charges.

    One does not go and blab about POTENTIAL charges until the investigation is completed and there are ACTUAL charges filed. The investigation needs to be done FIRST. Then after all the FACTS are in, then information can be released to the public. Robert, Seems like you want the "cart before the horse".

    Johns Creek
  6. report print email
    You're getting what you voted for
    August 14, 2013 | 10:29 AM

    I moved out of Johns Creek after telling all my neighbors to vote 'no' for creating a new city.

    Extra layers of government bring extra layers of bs and corruption. And taxes and "fees". And the State will never let you fully separate from Fulton County.

    Enjoy your little town. My family will do everything possible to stay out of your little police-state that doled out 70 hours of community service for a first time minor traffic violation. It was interesting watching your solicitor publicly hand down different levels of punishment after asking college kids where they attended school. Stay classy JC.

  7. report print email
    The city
    August 14, 2013 | 03:34 PM

    Johns Creek is still a little burb trying to compete with Alpharetta.

    Gee, where are all the businesses that were going to come to Johns Creek. They are going into Alpharetta. They are going to the newly formed city of Peachtree Corners. They are going everywhere but Johns Creek, it seems. What does Johns Creek really have to offer? I do all my shopping in Alpharetta and Roswell.

    We don't even have a central city hall, we are still leasing offices. Why? We don't have giant events like the other cities have. I have to go to Roswell to see a 4th of July parade or fireworks.

    So what does Johns Creek really have?

    Johns Creek tax payer
    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    The City
    August 19, 2013 | 08:01 AM

    Wow angry guy. What Johns Creek has is the lowest millage rate in the metro area. I guess you would prefer to move over to Alpharetta or Roswell and pay those taxes--beautiful towns, wonderful people, but it's a choice. Frankly, I would prefer to keep my money and decide when and where to spend it. If I decide to spend it in Alpharetta, Roswell, Milton, Sandy Springs or even Atlanta, that is just fine. It supports our outstanding schools which are what keeps all our property values stable. I will always look in JC first however. If we actually support out local economy instead of whining about it, it will grow. That isn't government's job. It is ours.

    Johns Creek Resident
    Johns Creek
  9. report print email
    August 19, 2013 | 11:58 AM

    Actually since Alpharetta has many businesses for a tax base, the taxes are lower there.

    Does Johns Creek have a giant mall with stores and businesses all around it? Does Johns Creek even have a city hall that isn't a rented building? Alpharetta has those!

    Johns Creek property owner
    Johns Creek
  10. report print email
    Tax Facts
    August 19, 2013 | 04:14 PM

    Just want to get the facts on taxes. Alpharetta's property tax rate is, in fact, higher than Johns Creek. The Alpharetta total millage (all line items) is 35.003 and Johns Creek is the lowest in Fulton at 33.867.

    Gabriel Sterling
    Sandy Springs
  11. report print email
    August 20, 2013 | 02:13 PM

    and just what benefits do we get by living in JC?
    Our neighborhood and some main roads are shot! We don't have half the parks and activities for kids that Alpharetta has. We don't even have a city hall, we rent office spaces.
    So even if Alpharetta has a slightly higher millage rate, so what?

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