I have been watching the Johns Creek City Council closely for the last 6-plus years, attending most work sessions as well as council meetings since they started in 2006. In that time I have developed a lot of respect for both our elected officials as well as the staff. Without exception, all seem to have the best interest of the City in mind with their decisions.
It is now, with great frustration, that I am watching this discussion of “unspecified charges” against Mayor Mike Bodker. While I trust the council to authorize an investigation that is not specific, I cannot remain silent now that the mayor’s veto has brought into focus what is required for this investigation.
After reading the published waiver of attorney-client privilege and the Mayor’s veto message I was concerned about the waiver and what impact it might have as indicated in the veto. I have talked to a number of individuals, including an attorney and a non-Johns Creek elected official and found that they, too, were puzzled as to why the investigators had asked for the wavier since all those specified work for the same client – the Johns Creek City government.
In fact, without exception they thought the veto was the correct thing to do and urged caution in the wording of the waiver. Even the city attorney’s quote in the news article regarding the waiver implied he had a negative opinion of this waiver.
Reading the waiver statement, even as a non-lawyer, I can see that it waives the mayor’s privilege as well as the council’s without any specific limits. It does not specify subject matter or a beginning or end time. Based on the opinions I have heard and my own research on waivers, once attorney-client privilege is waived, even in the smallest degree, it cannot be rescinded and the courts won’t sustain it. This document, as stated, could allow any and all litigants with a case against the city to investigate the city’s discussions on their cases.
The discussion of improved transparency deriving from the waiver also puzzles me. To me, transparency implies visibility into what is going on now, not some report after the investigation is complete. It implies that specific charges are stated up front so the investigation can be focused. It allows too much leeway for the waiver and possibly investigations into situations that may create very serious and costly unintended consequences to the city.
I am hoping that the City Council continues to think of the best interests of the city and the long term affects this may have and takes the route of caution with respect to this waiver.
David M. Kornbluh
Johns Creek, Ga.