JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said he got a surprise last week when he was informed that he had been subpoenaed by the City Council’s investigator Robert Wilson for his phone records and his check history with a local developer.
Wilson asked for and was given subpoena powers Sept. 20 in a special called meeting, because, Wilson said, the mayor and his attorney were not forthcoming in making that information available. However, Wilson never presented Bodker with any subpoena for his phone records or rent receipts, which Wilson claimed was crucial to proving or exonerating Bodker of allegations against him.
Bodker’s attorney Michael Cross maintained all along that the charges were so vague and long past the statute of limitations that no judge would ever order the subpoenas served.
Then shortly before the election, Wilson presented a “preliminary report.” Most people, including the mayor, thought the investigation was over – especially since he defeated Councilwoman Bev Miller who resigned to run against him, and the two other councilmembers who supported the investigation, Randall Johnson and Karen Richardson, were soundly defeated for their seats by first-time candidates.
None of the members of council who sponsored the investigation returned phone calls or emails in regards to the reappearance of the investigation.
Although Johns Creek has been sent a request for the amount of the cost of the investigation, it has not yet presented a tally since the June through August bill of $67,132. Bodker said he recently signed a check for another “$18,000” for the month of September, but evidently the meter is still running through November and now December.
Bodker said he was surprised to see the subpoenas from the city show up. He said as far as he knew, the investigation was over; now suddenly, it is on again.
“Of course this could be considered pre-authorized under the original investigation, but it is curious that this suddenly appears out of thin air,” Bodker said.
If someone ordered it to happen, it raises the question of whom and under what authority? Neither Bodker nor Councilwoman Kelly Stewart could recall any special meeting or executive session that authorized the reinstitution of the investigation.
In Bodker’s mind, the election settled the question at least in the public’s mind whether he had committed any egregious acts worthy of being put out of office.
“I think the election results speak for themselves. The citizens all but brought a car up to drive them away from City Hall. I have been trying to set a civil tone, but as soon as I do it, I get kicked in the teeth,” Bodker said.
Stewart said she was angry that the majority of the councilmembers are supporting the continuation of the mayoral investigation.
“That is completely uncalled for. The people have spoken. This investigation has to be finished,” Stewart said. “This investigation needs to be over and done with. I am not for spending one red penny more on this investigation that is going to take us nowhere.
“There have been enough taxpayer dollars wasted, and it’s time to call an end to it,” she said.
Stewart said she wanted to know why there was such a hurry to confer subpoena powers on the investigator.
One has to wonder why they had this special called meeting Sept. 20 for investigator Wilson to get this information and then waited nearly three months to exercise it, she said.
“It just doesn’t make any sense. But then this whole thing didn’t make any sense. But I think the voters saw what was going on,” Stewart said.
The newly elected councilmembers say they don’t understand the reason for this investigation to resurface after the elections.
Councilwoman-elect Cori Davenport said she felt that the most damaging issues of impropriety or ethics violation would have been revealed in the initial report from the attorney investigating the case.
“This seems to me to be an overflow of what we already know is of no value to the taxpayers in our city. This election clearly showed their disapproval of this investigation as a whole, and to further waste taxpayer dollars on more investigation is a complete waste of our hard-earned dollars,” Davenport said. “We have to move on. We have to get to paying for services and infrastructure improvement – not who the mayor spoke to on his personal time over the last seven years.”
Asked why she thought the council was pursuing this, Davenport said she believed there are those on the council who have an agenda and who want to continue to look for details to justify this investigation.
“Let’s move on,” Davenport said.
Asked if she thinks the investigation should be stopped, she said yes.
“We’ve spent almost $100,000 on this and what have we gotten from the results?” she said. “Voters seem to support the performance of the mayor despite what has been revealed of this investigation.
“Our reputation was built upon his leadership and vision during important events such as the PGA that exposed the city to the world and other opportunities to show our city at its best,” she said. “I think voters responded to a paralyzed and bitterly divided council.”
Asked if in large part the election was a referendum on the mayor’s conduct, she again said yes.
“The election had many parts,” she said. “Many surprising parts, but, yes, it was a referendum. Not only for the mayor, but for the incumbents and the city manager. The citizens have spoken, enough is enough.”
Councilman-elect Lenny Zaprowski said he had been out of town and only just heard about the subpoenas and said he didn’t understand the timing of the thing.
“I don’t understand. The timing is weird,” Zaprowski said. “These [subpoena powers] were allowed months ago and now they come out? Is there some new information we don’t know about? If there isn’t, then I would rather not spend any more money on [the investigation].
“It’s hard to comment on something like this because we don’t have all the facts,” he said.