JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Johns Creek City Manager John Kachmar got into a loud, and witnesses say, abusive argument with a woman who had spoken earlier during the public comment portion of the Oct. 7 City Council meeting and is now being investigated by the Johns Creek Police Department for an assault charge (poking a finger in another man’s chest) in an altercation stemming from the same incident.
The incident began in the parking lot around 9:30 p.m. where people had congregated after the council meeting.
That’s when witnesses say Kachmar came out of the building and approached Christine Johnson. She had complained at public comment that she was not able to get any information from the city about the proposed traffic roundabout on Sergeant Road.
Kachmar began challenging her for comments about the lack of response from the city.
Then he said, “You are a liar,” and walked away.
As he left, Johns Creek resident Gerald Bush said he thought that was inappropriate and yelled an offensive remark as Kachmar walked away. This angered Kachmar, and he turned back to confront Bush.
“I turned around and we got in each other’s faces,” Kachmar said later.
Kachmar admitted he then called Bush some offensive names.
Bush alleges Kachmar then said he would have him arrested. Kachmar said he thought Bush was going to hit him.
“He had his fists clenched. I said, ‘Go ahead, hit me, because I guarantee you will spend the night in jail with Benny the Butt—,” Kachmar said.
Kachmar admitted he made an allusion to Bush being raped in jail.
“Yes, I said it. I probably shouldn’t have, but I was angry too, and I didn’t want to be intimidated by some guy,” Kachmar said. “Then I just walked way. It just wasn’t worth my time or anybody else’s. ”
Kachmar said he never threatened to have Bush arrested, only that if Bush hit him he would be arrested.
Kachmar admitted to calling Johnson “a liar” in the parking lot for her remarks during the council meeting. He said he was angry when he then unleashed an abusive tirade moments later on Bush.
Bush also admitted calling Kachmar an offensive name when Kachmar turned to walk away from Johnson.
Kachmar stood “with his nose in the face” of Bush, according to one witness. After his initial outburst, witnesses say Bush did not respond further to Kachmar’s raunchy expletives, which included the likelihood of anal rape (in explicitly crude language) if he (Kachmar) had Bush arrested.
Now Kachmar says this is all politically motivated because he has been called as a witness against Mayor Mike Bodker as part of the mayor’s investigation. He said Johnson and Bush are blowing this out of proportion because they are Bodker supporters.
Bush said he intervened because he thought Kachmar was being abusive. He denied being a political tool of anyone.
“I don’t know who I am going to vote for,” Bush said.
Councilman Brad Raffensperger was a witness to the entire event, but he would not say much about it. Instead, he wanted to see what the police report discovered. Asked if council held city personnel to a standard of conduct, Raffensperger replied, that they were “a high standard of conduct.”
When Raffensperger was asked by a reporter how Kachmar’s conduct compared to that standard, he just turned and walked away.
David Kornbluh, a member of the Johns Creek Community Association Board and frequent attendee at council meetings, was one of the witnesses in the parking lot. He had stayed to see what Johnson’s concerns were about the Sergeant Road roundabout.
“I saw [Kachmar] walk up to [Johnson] and stand for a few moments and hurl insults at her – and in effect called her a liar for making comments that were untrue,” Kornbluh said. “I heard what she said and found nothing untrue in what she said, although they did not cast city staff in a favorable light.”
Then he saw Kachmar come back and approach Bush. Then there was a lot of puffing up of chests, and noses within an inch of each other.
“For the city manager to come out and take issue with what a citizen said in public comment is unacceptable in my mind,” Kornbluh said. “[Kachmar] stood in our little circle while we were talking, and he began saying she should not have said such lies or whatever.”
Johnson said she never said the city did not respond to her requests about the project. Her complaint was they never provided any of the information she sought. Asked if she felt intimidated by his comments, she said she was “frightened and intimidated.”