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Haddix, Imker disagree on prospect handling

Even as new Peachtree City Economic Development Director Joey Grisham reported headway in luring new business and industry here, there remains a difference of opinion on the City Council as to how potential business leads should be handled.

At council’s retreat Friday, Grisham reported that professional marketing materials are in the process of being prepared, and that the city is having a solid presence at trade shows, where relationships are crucial to help land prospects.

So far so good. That is until the question arose about how the City Council handles inquiries from potential new businesses.

Councilman Eric Imker said the most important thing was for Grisham to serve as the city’s single point of contact for new businesses inquiring about locating here.

The way the process works, Imker said, is that Grisham will be able to hold the businesses’ requests in confidence while working with other city agencies to make sure the new businesses’ needs are met, Imker said.

Mayor Don Haddix, however, contended that one-size-fits-all approach will not work in some circumstances, and if a company comes to him first as mayor, he will submit the information to Grisham. And if that company prefers to continue working with just the mayor, that’s the way Haddix will keep it, he said.

It is incumbent upon the mayor to suggest that the company work with Grisham, Imker replied, especially with the understanding that Grisham can keep the inquiry confidential.

Haddix insisted that the prospect is the party that calls the shots, and if those company officials prefer working with him instead of Grisham, he was fine with that.

“I agree it will get to where it needs to go eventually, but you can’t set an iron-clad 1,2,3,” Haddix said. If the city does so, it risks losing prospects, Haddix added.

Soon after, Imker said he had a problem with “the mayor taking on the job of the person who says here are the options for you.”

Of Grisham, Imker said, “He has the background and the experience ... and he’s the one person who has to be contacted.”

Haddix then suggested he would not hoard the business prospects to keep for himself.

“If that opens the door to take it to Joey, or take it to the county, or whatever I am not going to close that door and say, ‘Oh, I’m am the only one person who can look at it,’” Haddix said.

The discussion moved on after new City Manager Jim Pennington jumped in with an analogy about the wildcat offense in football and how the quarterback, even when removed from behind center, always seems to be involved in the play in one way or another.

Using that analogy, Haddix has pledged to hand the ball off to Economic Development Coordinator Grisham when the time is right depending on the wishes of the prospect. But as with the wildcat offense, the timing of that handoff is likely either to make or break the play.



Mike King's picture

...You are a breath of fresh air. Being an adult at these gatherings has been a scarce commodity for some time now.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Good nickname. Good city manager.

However, when you choose the halfback to receive the snap from center on a wildcat play, you do not choose the one who has an almost perfect record of dropping the ball or throwing it to the other team. Or, for that matter, a flat-footed, physical runt who will be mashed into the turf before he can take 2 steps. You want the one receiving the ball to look like he knows what he is doing and has the ability to either run or pass the ball - if nothing else, he has to convince the defense that he has the basic skills to either run or pass. Otherwise he is flattened before he can get started.

Just an observation about football.

But back to the city manager - thank you for being professional. Above all, thank you for reading the city charter, which is quoted accurately above by the bladder person.

Live free or die!

mudcat's picture

Real leadership comes in many forms, not just the obvious ones used by the military or old-school corporations. Real adult leadership can be exerted by people who are not at the top of the chain of command. That person has to have some authority and visibility and absolutely must lead by his or her own example and have sufficient experience to be taken seriously. Some of the best leaders I have ever seen in my odd career path of nursing, real estate and health care/rehab/fitness were people who had mid-level jobs and marginal authority, but knew what they were doing and helped others rise to their best level of performance. And they did it quietly - not seeking credit for any accomplishments unless they were team or department accomplishments.

An experienced city manager guiding a relatively inexperienced group of elected officials all of whom have other full-time jobs, is the perfect scenario for effective leadership without command. Best of luck to Mr. Pennington. I am impressed by what I have read so far.

NUK_1's picture

Great job! I'm liking the new city manager already.

It's come to arguing about hypotheticals? Someone jump in here & ask what the mayor's wife thinks should happen. I am impressed that the new city manager got in to provide clarity. Isn't this town set up on a Council-Manager form of governance? From Wiki: "The legislative body, which is voted into office by public elections, appoints a professional manager to oversee the administrative operations, implement its policies, and advise it. The position of "mayor" present in this type of legislative body is a largely ceremonial title, and may be selected by the council from among its members or elected as an at-large council member with no executive functions.[3]" It goes on to mention that the city manager position provides "Professional Management"

Mike King's picture

You are, of course, correct, but do you believe the emperor and empress would agree?

Maybe we should wait a few months on praising the professionalism of new hires.

I don't think also that Town Managers chair the council, approve budgets, fire employees, give raises, or anything except advice!

He is to carry out the instructions of Mayor and Council. If he wants to be Mayor, let him run.

Mike King's picture

"I don't think also that Town Managers chair the council, approve budgets, fire employees, give raises, or anything except advice!" Your postings are becoming more and more similar to that of our mayor. Could it be????

Anyway, time for your meds.

A great city manager can guide a city council to much higher leadership level. The question is whether this one will take the risk of trying to lead or take the safe path of the last manager and just try to administer. Any reasonable analysis says that if you hire a strong leader, pay him full time to lead, and have any respect for him at all, he can lead the council to better policies and guide them to pursuing a vision for the city that many will praise. He possibly can even bring this group together in a common goal. Leaders of corporations, both profit and non-profit, do it all the time with their boards and those boards are made up of stronger personalities than our council is likely to have. So there are only two questions to be answered: 1) Did they choose a strong leader or did they select somebody that would be their admin? and 2) If he is a leader, will he risk his job, on the citizens behalf, by taking a leadership role? It's too early to tell for sure, but he will have to do more than show videos of cowboys hearding cats, like he did to close the council retreat, to bring the current council together. In his introduction to the retreat, several times he said "we will hear more about that later". Most of those topics we never heard more about, but I hope we will see him take the reigns instead of leaving them slack for anybody to tug one way or another. He can be mentor, coach, leader, and problem solver or he can be admin. I look forward to seeing him lead.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

He was on the job 1 week. 1 week! when the retreat happened. He presented the structure of a strategic planning exercise, removed much of the meddling from the discussion and gently reminded Mr. Haddix that this whole thing is a team effort. He also made it clear (at least to me) that he understands the city charter which of course the last city manager did not (or chose not to follow). And as I have stated before, none of the last 3 mayors really followed the city charter either.

Of course Mr. Pennington had an advantage in that he was able to read these blogs for weeks before his job actually started and I'm sure he drew some conclusions about our city and its leadership. Fortunately he didn't turn and run. The man has a plan to fix what ails us and the ability to implement it. He also has a 1-year contract which will certainly be extended nest Spring by a city council which will have 1 or 2 new members.

I am sure he will guide this city council without emotion or grandstanding which is how a real leader operates. As others on here have stated, Imker, Fleisch and Learnard all have advanced degrees and corporate experience, understand strategic planning and are used to working in a normal business enviornment so they will allow themselves to be led or guided by Mr. Pennington. I have spoken to 2 of those 3 and they fully understand the city charter as written - and that is a big plus as well. And Beth, who is destined to be Doug's replacement, seems as if she is a team player, so things are looking up.

Live free or die!

I hope our optimism is soon validated by our new manager and I well recognize we are only a couple of weeks in. I am not yet convinced about Beth, but look forward to hearing and talking with her more. Anybody want to share some first hand experience. Maybe we can get her to start posting a few positions here? I used to say we couldn't do worse than this incumbant or that, but I was proven wrong more than once.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

The goal is to have 4 grown-ups on council who have the best interests of the city as their only allegiance.
Doug blindly following our mayor does not suit that template. He needs to go. Even he knows that and probably won't run. Therefore his replacement is key and Beth is the only one so far that has indicated she might run. She has leadership experience and seems a team player. She is certainly not going to be dictated to by Haddix or anyone else.

Now of course someone else may decide to run and that is fine and everyone needs to evaluate all the candidates for both posts. Just pay attention and learn all you can about the candidates. That city charter question is a good starting point to smoke out undesirables.

Live free or die!

Mike King's picture

Our mayor will do everything he can to keep Doug in the race for without him, the mayor is essentially a lame duck. Don realizes that whether its Conner or someone else of the mayor's choosing running for Imker's seat it is quite an uphill battle.

The mayor does realize that even with his many missteps, and rising unpoularity that this will be an off year election and voter turnout will be sparce which bodes well for Doug and His Honor. Some four years ago Doug was elected on a six percent turnout of Peachtree City voters in a runoff and has been joined at the hip with Don ever since.

I agree that Beth is the best option so far, but there is still time as I personally would like to see Larry Sussberg enter the fray. Of course, I'm assuming Eric decides to run for a full term.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

But Doug has to be smart enough to know that he has damaged his personal reputation and destroyed himself politically by attaching his wagon to the chief. He can keep some dignity intact by not running after one full term - you know the quote don't you? "I have been proud of my public service, but now I wish to spend more time with my family."

A graceful break from Haddix for Doug, a new councilperson for us, life is good.

Are you sure - a 6% turnout? That's mighty low even for PTC. Who did he beat?

Live free or die!

Mike King's picture

I hope you're right about Doug not running for still believe him to be an honorable individual whose mistake was to ally himself with Don.

The turnout was 6.31% and he beat yours truly.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Might have a low turnout this time, so we need to be sure to get everyone we can interested in the Haddix alliance issue.

You know, Mike, even if you don't want to run or be on council, you should run anyway and you would have a large role in keeping the discussion and debate on the important topics. And if you won, it wouldn't be that bad serving on a council with the ladies and the mayor reduced to his proper ceremonial role. And Pennington would make things easier on all involved.

Just a thought.

Live free or die!

Mike King's picture

No need to be sorry, but with both Imker and myself on Council the mayor would increase his "sick days" substantially. He would be reduced to a punching bag of sorts, and Peachtree City does not need that. Besides, I made a promise to my spouse.

We need five willing and qualified independent thinkers on Council who would be there to serve our city and not for self grandeur as we currently have. I agree with you that Beth would be good, but I believe more individuals will surface. Also, with the addition of Jim Pennington Peachtree City is poised to move forward despite the shortcomings of some.


Just another example of why we need Eric Imker on city council!

Pennington handled the situation beautifully, but Eric smoked out the issue which I'm sure he aniticpated.

We need Eric Imker to run again, and we need Beth on council too.

Haddix wants Doug Sturbaum and David Conner (from Planning Commission) on council in the November election. That will give him the 3 to 2 power he wants and needs.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I'll stop mentioning Eric as a second-class citizen and will be quite happy if he runs again and wins. The loose cannon act has done more good than harm. And there seems no danger of him become another Haddix toady.

I would think that a Haddix endorsement would be as welcome as leprosy so I feel sorry for Mr. Conner, but apathy has elected some pretty poor people to public office.

So, sure - Beth and Eric will be fine with me.

Live free or die!


Robert W. Morgan's picture

Haddix needs no blind followers on council. He needs to be the 1, meaning the 1 in future 4-1 votes.

Live free or die!

Wouldn't it be ironic and so appropriate that the very thing that got Donnie Darko elected, the Fayette Citizen blog, will be the very thing that gets him unelected? Sweet poetic justice!

A first that the Mayor hasn't added his thoughts.
Do you think he's gotten the point? I voted for him for the Brown "Gadfly" effect but in hindsight Scott Rowen was a better choice.

Dr. Pennington has a doctor of education degree in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a masters in public administration.

It looks like we are not going to get that new bowling alley that was mentioned a few months ago. I noticed that a landscaping place opened up on the site that they were looking at.

if you are talking about the property on 74 north of Wisdom Rd., I do believe that the new location being considered is on 74 south across from Publix.

Hey Mike,

I am an "oldie but goodie", winding down into retirement in the next 3 to 4 years so city council is not an option for me. Also, the mayor drove me nuts when I was on Planning and remember I quit because I have no tolerance which was not a good thing to do. I would really be bad on council.

Unfortunately for some, I will continue to speak out because I love Peachtree City. I own a local PTC business so I am really vested in this city's future but I would make a lousy council member as I did a planning commissioner.

Beth and Eric are great!

But, Thank you.

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