JOHNS CREEK, GA. – The Johns Creek City Council stunned those who stayed late at the June 17 council meeting when they announced after an executive session that they would initiate an investigation of Mayor Mike Bodker for conduct or actions that they refused to specify.
After the regular agenda was completed Monday night, the council members announced an executive session and retired to deliberate. After about 45minutes they returned and Councilman Randall Johnson made the announcement that the council would appoint an attorney from a firm outside the city to, “Investigate certain actions by the mayor.”
The vote was 5-0 to appoint an investigator. Councilwoman Kelly Stewart was absent on vacation.
Bodker had recused himself from the meeting once he discovered the purpose of the meeting. Bodker was invited to stay for the executive session, but reportedly declined saying he would not be present without being represented by legal counsel.
After the meeting, Bodker said he did not know what prompted the charges.
“I can tell you that anything I have done as mayor has solely been to do what I thought was in the best interests of the citizens of Johns Creek,” he said.
Johnson said after the executive session that he was the driving force behind the call for an investigation. But he obviously had the full support of the other four council members. He said the council is not filing any charges.
“We just need to remove this cloud. It is a belief of a pattern of behavior,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bev Miller. “The timing might be questionable, but it is not intended [to be]. The council has been in protective mode, and it’s time to take action.”
The timing Miller refers to is the coming council elections this fall when the mayor is up for re-election to a third term. In the first two elections he was unopposed. This action could encourage a potential challenger to get off the fence.
“Over time there have been incidents when [the council] has approached him. There have been public and private reprimands,” she said.
Asked if there were any suspicions of criminal actions, Miller said she would not speculate.
“We just need some answers,” she said. “It’s something that has been building up over a long time. You get to a point where you say enough. There are recent things that came to a head and need resolution.”
Miller said she didn’t want “to accuse” the mayor of anything – although she and fellow council members have certainly put a cloud over the mayor. She said as recently as the council’s retreat earlier this year they discussed the issue with the mayor.
Johnson said the council members want an “independent third party” to look into the matter.
“I don’t know where the investigation will lead. We will see where it will head. They will talk to staff individually,” he said.
Asked if he thought the mayor was overstepping his powers, Johnson said he didn’t know. Asked if this will affect the running of the city, Johnson said no.
“The city manager has control of the operations of the [day-to-day] operations of the city, and the council will continue to direct policy,” he said.
After the meeting, Bodker said he did not know what specific actions prompted the actions of the City Council. He recused himself from the executive session.
A supporter said later it was understandable that the mayor would not sit in on such a meeting without his own counsel to represent him.
With election qualifying coming up in August, the mayor was asked if he thought this was politically motivated, he said it “certainly feels politically motivated.”
“I don’t know the details. They are not saying anything specific. It feels like a witch hunt” Bodker said. “I know I have served the city in several capacities starting as president of my homeowner association in 1999,” he said. “Nothing has changed since then. I have tried to represent my constituencies in a transparent and unbiased manner.”
Bodker said he was confident that no matter what actions he is accused of, it was for benefit of the citizens.
In light of the council’s statements that he had been “reprimanded” for past actions, could he state what their specific concerns might be, Bodker refused to be spokesman for his accusers.
“I would be foolish to speculate at this point,” Bodker said.