JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Mayor Mike Bodker said he has tried to take “the high road” while four councilmembers and one ex-member have called into question his honesty and integrity as mayor, but with the resumption of the investigation, he wants to put an end to it.
“I have felt this investigation has been improper from its start. There was always a proper method to pursue an ethical or a criminal complaint,” Bodker said. “This [investigation] just wasn’t it. Given the latest issuance of the subpoenas and the appearance of the continued investigation, then absent this action, I don’t know what it is going to take to get the four councilmembers who have pursued this to stop.”
Bodker’s attorney Michael Cross said he filed a petition for declaratory judgment in Fulton Superior Court last week challenging the lawfulness of the council’s investigation of the mayor and the subpoenas for his phone records and rent checks.
Cross said he couldn’t say how long it might be before the judge will respond.
“Of course the other side has 30 days to respond, and the court would set a hearing sometime after having heard from both parties,” Cross said.
Cross said it was surprising that the investigation had apparently cranked back up given the results of the elections.
“I would think a prudent response would be to see if the newly elected members of council would like the investigation to continue, rather than proceeding at a pace that is not prudent,” Cross said. “It makes all the sense in the world to me to go before the newly elected council [and see] what they want to do before you start engaging in work that is going to cost the taxpayers even more dollars, rather than continue based on the decisions by a lame duck council.
“Especially since it is clear from the results of the election that the taxpayers were not happy about paying all these monies for this investigation,” he said.
In Cross’s challenge, he submits that the council has gone beyond its powers (ultra vires) in launching the investigation and that the subpoenas are “unlawful and invalid.”
Bodker is also asking for “all costs, expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees” associated with the petition. Bodker said he was not asking for the city to pay for his personal attorney’s fees for the investigation leading up to the petition.
“At some time, the spigot has to be turned off. This has not only cost me a considerable amount of money in attorney’s fees, this has now cost the taxpayers well over $100,000,” Bodker said. “As I have said all along, there was a correct method that would not have been a direct burden on the taxpayers. But they did not use it, and I think it is because they knew it would fail.”
The last invoice released by the city was dated Sept. 30, of four payments for a total of $81,237. But as evidenced by the investigator’s subpoenas of the mayor for his records that came in December, the investigation and its costs are ongoing.
“As all of the events have transpired, I have concluded this was nothing more than a political witch hunt,” Bodker said.
The issuance of an “interim report” published two weeks before the election, followed by the fact that it appeared in every campaign piece, makes it impossible to come to any other conclusion that it was not for political purposes, the mayor said.
The overwhelming results of the election in which not only Bodker was re-elected over former Councilwoman Bev Miller, but the other two incumbents Randall Johnson and Karen Richardson were soundly beaten by newcomers, show the community supported the results of the investigation, he said.
“I wish this [new round of the investigation] hadn’t happened. Because I truly believe the right thing for the city of Johns Creek following the finality of the runoff was to begin the healing process and to find a way for this council to come together,” Bodker said.
“We need to recognize that our job is bigger than us as individuals, and bigger than any personal agenda,” he said. “The only agenda that matters is that of the people, and this continues to get in the way of good government.”