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UPDATED: PTC mayor vows to fight council censure

UPDATED FOR PRINT July 27,2011 — Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix is not about to apologize for what his fellow council members are calling a pattern of “negative comments” that affect the city’s working relationship with other persons and agencies.

Haddix left Thursday’s council meeting prematurely in an effort to insure that he has a chance to respond to an effort to reprimand him that is being undertaken by three other city council members.

In doing so, Haddix prevented council from taking a vote on the matter because under city rules there weren’t enough council members present for an official vote to occur, in part due to the absence of Councilman Doug Sturbaum. The item is expected to be on the next City Council agenda for Thursday, Aug. 4.

Haddix’s walkout didn’t stop Council members Eric Imker, Kim Learnard and Vanessa Fleisch from explaining in detail to the public why they felt Haddix should be censured.

Learnard said the mayor’s negative comments at meetings, in letters to the editor and in online blogs pushed her to the breaking point after what she called “an 18-month pattern of negativity.”

Fleisch and Imker both said they have had to apologize to elected and appointed officials, whom the city is trying to “build relationships with,” due to comments made by Haddix. They cited comments Haddix made about the county development authority and also the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Learnard said the reason council was addressing the issue is an effort to stop the negativity.

“We need to stop being our worst enemy,” Learnard said.

In an interview Monday, Haddix said he felt he could “prove all their accusations false.”

Haddix argued Thursday night that since the item was put on the agenda just over a day before, he hadn’t had time to prepare a response. But he was unable to convince his fellow council members to postpone the matter.

“I gave them the polite way out in compromise, but they refused to take it,” Haddix said. “I was trying to be civil. But they refused it and as far as I’m concerned, they talked down to me.”

Haddix said he was disturbed by the notion that he wouldn’t get a chance to respond to the accusations contained in the censure resolution.

“That is very troubling and very reflective of the majority on council in that when you start denying somebody their first amendment rights and the right of self-defense, that says a lot and it speaks to their character,” Haddix said.

The censure resolution specifically claims that Haddix “has created an untenable work environment by publicly belittling and criticizing current and former city employees, elected officials and appointed officials, resulting in at least one lawsuit with related costs to the city.”

Additionally the document claims that Haddix’s comments and actions “put the City of Peachtree City at financial risk, create an untenable work environment, and damage the City’s relationships with other governmental agencies.”

The resolution asks Haddix to “correctly carry out the duties of Mayor, adhere to the City Charter, Council Rules, and common courtesy, work effectively as a member of the City Council, and work effectively in his capacity of Mayor with other state and local government agencies.”

Haddix said he has had some support from city residents, and he challenges the position that a majority of city residents support the censure.

“I know it’s their perception and they see it that way, but it’s not what I’m getting,” Haddix said.

As to trying to find some middle ground with his fellow council members, Haddix said the matter is one of conviction on his part, specifically in the realm of keeping campaign promises he made.

“If I see something they’re doing that hurts Peachtree City, I do more harm to the city by being silent,” Haddix said. “I know some people won’t agree with that, but that’s the way I feel.”

Regardless of their position, some dozen or so citizen observers stuck around until the end of the meeting, around 10:30 p.m., to witness the confrontation between Haddix and council.

Haddix contends that his walkout didn’t affect city business. The censure resolution was the last action item on the council agenda, but Haddix’s walkout did prevent council from meeting in executive (closed) session following the meeting.

The items that were to be addressed in closed session are already being handled by city staff, Haddix said Monday.

At Thursday’s meeting, City Attorney Ted Meeker informed council that there were “a couple of time sensitive items” up for discussion in the executive session portion of the meeting.

Haddix was then accused by Imker and Learnard of being willing to forego city business in an effort to stall a vote on the censure.

In a matter of minutes, the discussion continued to the point where Haddix decided it was best to leave.

Although it is a rare occurrence for the Peachtree City Council to criticize the mayor, it has happened at least once in city history. Back in July 1982, after a very lengthy hearing, council determined that then-Mayor Fred Brown interfered with the police department on two specific occasions: once when asking an officer to void a parking ticket and the other by interrupting the interrogation of a police suspect.

Council also determined that Brown did not obstruct law enforcement, according to city records.

After that same hearing, council also voted to reprimand then-Police Chief Benjamin G. Parks for “improper management practices.”

==========================================================

Earlier online version

On the hot seat, facing a formal criticism from three of his fellow city council members, Don Haddix thwarted the effort by walking out of Thursday night’s council meeting since council didn’t acquiesce to his request to postpone the matter.

It's likely just a delay, however, as the three council members explained in detail why they support the public censure of Haddix.

With Councilman Doug Sturbaum absent due to a family illness, that left council technically unable to vote on the censure resolution, unable to vote to adjourn into and out of executive session ... and technically unable to vote to adjourn the meeting, if one were to split hairs.

Haddix complained that because the matter was placed on the agenda late Wednesday, he hadn’t had much time to formulate a response. He also argued that Sturbaum should be included in the conversation.

Prior to Haddix’s departure, at one point it looked as if he would win postponement of the matter in a compromise offered by Councilwoman Kim Learnard, who accused Haddix of “threatening to impede city business” by walking out of the meeting.

Shortly thereafter, Haddix’s motion to postpone the matter died for lack of a second, he decided to call it a night and announced that he was recusing himself, and he stood up from his seat and left the meeting.

Before Haddix left council chambers, Learnard accused him of being “less concerned about the city business at hand than to stand and deal with an item that was legally put on the city’s agenda."

Needless to say, Learnard and Councilmembers Vanessa Fleisch and Eric Imker reacted with disappointment. But even though they couldn’t vote on the censure resolution, they continued the discussion after Haddix’s exit, explaining in detail why they supported the ordinance.

Learnard said the mayor’s negative comments at meetings, in letters to the editor and in online blogs pushed her to the breaking point after what she called “an 18-month pattern of negativity.”

“And I’m here telling you tonight about these things because it just has got to stop,” Learnard said. “... We need to stop being our own worst enemy.”

She pointed out three negative headlines from news stories, and argued that it hurt the city’s image and thus its ability to attract new companies here.

The theme was continued by Fleisch and Imker, who said they both have had to apologize to elected and appointed officials, whom the city is trying to “build relationships with,” due to comments made by Haddix.

Imker said he apologized to the Fayette County Development Authority on behalf of all city residents after Haddix wrote in a letter late last month published in The Citizen that alleged the authority wasn’t proactive in seeking new businesses here.

Imker noted that not only has the county development authority attracted large companies here, but it also has financed some $80 million in bonds to get industry to locate here, namely for Cooper Wiring, Cooper Lighting, Sany and the recent expansion of NCR. All of those companies are located in Peachtree City’s industrial park.

“Where does somebody get off saying the Fayette County Development Authority does not proactively pursue businesses,” Imker asked.

Imker said the censure is serving as a notice to Haddix “that things have to change.”

Fleisch said she too “has been on an apology tour as well.”

In addition to apologizing to FCDA, Fleisch said she has had to apologize to the state director of transportation planning for comments that Haddix made. She noted that shortly after the city won a major concession from the Department of Transportation that allowed a blinking safety light in front of the city’s Baseball and Soccer Complex, she was stunned to hear Haddix “denigrating” DOT in the very next council meeting.

“We can’t have that,” Fleisch said. “It’s not right. We cannot develop working relationships with us going around on our apology tours.”

The discussion closed after Imker noted that if Haddix didn’t correct the matter to council’s satisfaction, the council would ask him to resign from office.

The resolution specifically claims that Haddix “has created an untenable work environment by publicly belittling and criticizing current and former city employees, elected officials and appointed officials, resulting in at least one lawsuit with related costs to the city.”

Additionally the document claims that Haddix’s comments and actions “put the City of Peachtree City at financial risk, create an untenable work environment, and damage the City’s relationships with other governmental agencies.”

The resolution asks Haddix to "correctly carry out the duties of Mayor, adhere to the City Charter, Council Rules, and common courtesy, work effectively as a member of the City Council, and work effectively in his capacity of Mayor with other state and local government agencies.

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Comments

mudcat's picture

Certainly not by the little man-child walking out. That was to be expected and it reinforced his immaturity. It also put the other 3 on the record exactly what their issues were with Haddix's big mouth. That's very, very good. It sends the proper signal to the county and the state that the majority of our city council is supportive of a good relationship and they are trying to do something about our rogue mayor.

Of course the delay gives Haddix a couple of weeks to formulate a defense as he has the benefit of a full preview of the reasons for the censure, but what can he say? Maybe that he never said what he said? Good practice for the Logsdon trial. Or maybe he can do the Obama defense - that he's a fine leader, he just needs better followers. That would be good because that one might lead him to resign in a hissy fit and blame the 3 who are "out to get him" and I'm fine with that.

The real theater will be what Dougie does when he gets back. Vote against the censure? Kiss of death. Vote for the censure? Signaling a clean break with his little buddy. Abstain? Most likely.

I have reviewed the complaints about the Mayor and actually find them new and needed!

They are:
Threatens to impact city business (I hope so)
Recused himself (Is one supposed to participate in a hanging)
Disappointed two council members (Sorry about that)
Makes negative comments (what is negative?) about officials-don't we all?)
Has actually pushed one lady to the breaking point (kitchen hot- leave)
Two ladies have gone around apologizing for Haddix (The do nothing DA and the DOT! WOW) (I guess also the other town officials).
The FCDA borrowed 80 million and gave it to SANY and an expansion of NCR (Not much!)
And I guess I could add: They don't like him! (tough)

Pile it on Mayor, thrash them around, stop the good old boy stuff!

Aren't they going to cost us money with the law suit?

I have since read Mayor's reply to some of ther comments here and I now also think that the Council is doing more damage than is the Mayor by far!

NUK_1's picture

This isn't surprising at all; all talk and then run away when faced with being held accountable for his fat mouth and sheer feeble-mindedness. The remaining 3 councilmembers are dead-on with their assessment of the total lack of leadership and the heavy negative blatherings of Haddix's actions. His complete lack of maturity are causing PTC to head straight downhill in its efforts to foster a hospitable business climate and good relations with other governmental entities like the FCDA, and the Council itself.

Boo-hoo, little Donny takes his ball and goes home! I can't wait to read his sure-to-follow rambling and semi-literate letter whining about this and more attacking of everyone else. If anyone thinks he'll suddenly change course and put on some big boy pants and act like an adult and accept responsibility for his words and actions, you're in for a rude awakening. He showed last night he'd rather run away than try to articulate a response. He can tell his utter BS about "last minute item added to the agenda" to Randy Gaddo and Scott Christopher who got the same amount of notice about the agenda as dumb Don.

In my opinion, the 8 years of George W. Bush caused the downturn in business for PTC!

Mayor Haddix hasn't lost us one new business that we wanted.

This semi-literate, whining dolt, didn't recommend the latest lay0ffs, did he?

What did the magnificent, wonderful new City Manager think? Haven't heard him speak much.

Your defense of Haddix is idiotic. He needs to resign and you need to stop.

There is something seriously wrong with Haddix....this city is in trouble having someone like this as its mayor!

HELP

ptctaxpayer's picture

It looks like the Gang of Three is repeating their same modus operandi used to can Randy Gaddo ---- last minute, stealth, no warning, no time to respond. Gaddo was canned with 36 hours during a vacation. Now that's how you treat a veteran ! Glad these clowns aren't running the VA or the DA's office. Come to think of it this is just city hall Deja Vu---- remember Donna Romeo ? They fired her with a sneak attack too.

Your statement of, "last minute, stealth, no warning, no time to respond", is not only totally incorrect but completely irrelevant.

The rules were followed exactly as they are spelled out. If you don't like the rules, work to change them but refrain from insinuating that something inappropriate was done just because you don't like it.

Citizen_Steve's picture

(duplicate)

Citizen_Steve's picture

Whether council actions are within rules or not does not mean they are proper or appropriate or in the best interest of Peachtree City. The current city council has lost my confidence to put it mildly and I expect there's more than one other ptc tax payer that feels the same way.

Steve

It is my opinion, as well as many others, that this Mayor has placed this city in jeopardy on any number of occasions.

Let me be clear, I'm a strong supporter of Mr. Gaddo (sp) and his many years of service and accomplishments.

I see no other option for this current council but to censure this Mayor as any other action or non action would make them complacent with his actions.

I strongly agree with this councils action that this Mayor should be censured/sanctioned if for no other reason but to show others that the majority don't agree that he's acted in 'our' best interest.

NUK_1's picture

The Council does need to make the mostly symbolic move of censure to show that they are definitely not in anyway supportive of Haddix's actions and complete lack of maturity or leadership and that he doesn't represent the City of PTC government at this point.

Censure the Mayor for allowing Gaddo to go? Bull.

I didn't see any censure motions when the Tennis Center crooked deal occurred; we still pay for that!

It is not necessary that anyone "like" the Mayor.

There is no danger to PTC created by the Mayor, only the dissenters can do that! And it has started with the AJC and soon others.

Petraeus has failed in Afghanistan and Itaq----are we to censure him?
No, we move him into CIA safety for a while, then we can him.

It would be over five years ago if General Shinseki had been believed.

We didn't have the guts to put 500,000 into the fight.

Don Haddix's picture

I walked out because the Censure was not posted until close of business day on Wednesday, a revision was on the Dias at the meeting, full Council was not present and they would not wait one more meeting.

Further, they said I had no right to respond to their accusations.

What was said in this article will be addressed along with the Resolution itself.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Please do not write another stupid editorial....

Your big mouth and stupid editorials have gotten this city into enough trouble. Just act like an adult and do your job.

Stop acting like a moron! Do the job you were elected to do. We, the taxpayers pay your salary, do the job!

Mike King's picture

You walked out because of your cowardice to face up to your shortcomings. The right thing to do now is to resign and allow a truly honorable individual take the reins until the citizens have the opportunity to make another choice. We both know that Doug will at least listen, and with you out of the picture he might just prove capable of bringing credibility back to the office that is currently soiled.

Walk away now and avoid further embarrassment to yourself and, more importantly, this fine city.

mudcat's picture

That's in two weeks. Right? I'll have Cyndi there so when Haddix resigns she can take over immediately. After all she came in second and she does have experience on council. That ok with you?

it was Cyndi's "experience on council" that made her come in second.

mudcat's picture

I'm of the opinion that it would be impossible to appoint someone worse than what we have now. She wouldn't be able to create any more empty commercial over there because there is no land left. She would certainly be interested in getting new businesses to locate here since it would fill up some of her empty space. She would not annoy the development community or their overseers at state and county. And I'll bet she'd be willing to actually talk to the other council members and listen to their ideas.

Isn't all that better than what we have now?

Citizen_Steve's picture

The last election showed she's clearly unwanted in an elected position. Loose cannon and all, we're better off than if the election had gone the other way. I think I'll cast my vote next time for the candidate with the smallest ego...

Mike King's picture

Having Cyndi present would be fine, but please realize that should Don decide to be honorable and resign, the Mayor Pro Tem is next in line. Currently that title belongs to Mr Sturbaum, who, I believe, would preside as mayor until his term is over this year.

Who knows? We could possibly elect a mayor and two new council members this November.

The Mayor Pro-Tem is Councilman Imker, not Councilman Sturbaum.

Mike King's picture

My mistake, then it would be Imker who could serve out his term as mayor until the residents make another choice.

Why Imker? If Haddix does resign what is the official rule/procedure for deciding who takes over?

Robert W. Morgan's picture

The discussion about who replaces Haddix when he resigns is totally useless. Haddix will never resign. He does not believe he has done anything wrong. As an aside, I'd love to know if he acted this way during whatever professional career he may have had. Can't imagine an employer tolerating an employee like this. Oh well, maybe he was was self-employed - like a housepainter or something where he didn't have to interact with actual people.

Don't assume a resignation. Just go to the next council meeting, listen to the censure motion and be prepared to be amazed at the chutzpha of his response. Then go work on getting a couple of adults in there in November. The ideal candidates would be someone who has a small ego, a team player and as Vanessa has pointed out - someone who can do a good job of publicaly apologizing for our motor-mouth mayor.

Live free or die!

PTC Observer's picture

agree with you.

Kind of reminds you of Horgan, chutzpa is the word or incompetance comes to mind as well.

Just remember everyone that votes in PTC, all 8,000 or so, elections have consequences and we are dealing with one of those in PTC at the moment.

I don't remember any republican apologizing for Nixon, Starr or W., and they really needed to admit those failures!

"What we have here is a failure to communicate!" Paul Newman

hutch866's picture

That was Strother Martin.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u-I0D9ReqI

I yam what I yam

Robert W. Morgan's picture

You make no sense whatsoever. Why do you have to be on here disrupting the relatively normal people?

Live free or die!

that about sums it up.

Why must you reply to ghosts as well?

After all, Turbinhead is dollars ghost isn't he?

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I guess I could call it a knee-jerk reaction. I mean, I am making the somewhat relevant to the discussion point that Haddix should not be expected to resign and dopey starts talking about Nixon? Huh? No comparison at all. Nixon got elected twice, actually accomplished some things and resigned in disgrace. None of that has anything to do with Haddix - especially since he won't be resigning.

Now that you mention it, there always does seem to be someone on here who is totally out of step and the names do change. Dollar, Bonkers, Bacon and now this dope. Ignoring is the best policy.

Live free or die!

What is this step that some commenters are out of? Is it bloviators, glory hounds, mumblers, people who kill arrestees on the way to the hospital, TEAS, dog-fighters, red-neks, good-old-boys, NASCARERS, and on and on?

You mean Mike has been wrong before?

I don't ever remember that! Oh, he is wrong all of the time so maybe this one is correct!

When did that happen?

I think it started about the time Erica was getting dressed into her best suit and tie and dying her fair locks to look pretty for the hoped for Atlanta TV cameras she was going to get to preen into and to smirk at the citizenry she was hoping to be named supreme ruler of right after she belittled the current mayor publicly enough so as to cause him to tell Erica that she could be the new mayor without benefit of actually being voted into office democratically, but have it handed to her if she got the 2 other girlies all whipped up into their periomenopausal frenzy enough to agree that he should be their savior.

Yup, that's when.

you can't remember when it happened either.

OK thanks.

assumption correct. Mea culpa.

is the former Hizzoner! The current Hizzoner would probably cough up a large hairball at having to bend over for for his public paddling in the presence of he who must not be named except in counter lawsuits!

That means Senator McCain becomes Presient if President Obama vacates, doesn't it?

If it sounds like a duck, and speaks like a duck, then she is a Quack!

Now that Mayor Haddix has recursed himself and left the meeting can I 'assume' he can no longer participate in any further discussions if this issue is brought up again at a future council meeting?

I'm not sure the meeting could have been 'officially' adjourned as there wasn't a quorum left to vote on adjournment.

Does than mean that the July 22 council meeting will continue where it left off at the next scheduled PTC council meeting?

Any and all 'Roberts Rules of Order' or city ethics experts chime in.

Don Haddix's picture

I only recused myself from the agenda item for that meeting, not a future one. That was part of my statement of recusal. So, yes, I can participate in the next Meeting.

There are two kinds of quorums. 3 to hold a meeting and 4 to allow votes. 3 can discuss but cannot vote. 3 can both open and adjourn. We have had quorums of 3 at workshops before.

I will also add of early this morning the executive session issues are moving forward. There is no delay of pressing city business.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Mike King's picture

You left knowing that an executive session was forthcoming after the last agenda item, which translates into placing one's self above serving the city. We all realize the mistake in electing you, the exception to that realization is you.

The picture of your back turned to the city staff and the residents speaks volumes.

Again, resign now and allow the recovery to begin.

Don Haddix's picture

I will be addressing that kind of issue in my response as well.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Please Mr. Mayor, just resign.

DarkMadam's picture

Save it for the next meeting!

No one wants to hear your response! Enough editorials!

PTC citizens are tired of your personal attacks on Imker and other council members, we are tired of your personal attacks on the previous mayor and city hall employees, we are tired of your lies and most of all we are tired of the fact that you have accomplished nothing as the mayor except bad publicity throughout the region and state of Georgia

We, the citizens who pay your salary, have had enough!

Do your job or step down.

Learn from the censure and start to do your job, if you do not, and start writing more editorials, you are telling the citizens that you are not capable of learning and to expect more of your inappropriate behavior.

If you don't stop, we, the citizens will begin to organize to make sure you are not re-elected. STOP NOW! Learn and move forward, do the job you were elected to do!

Brer Rabbit's picture

When a governing body reaches the point of censure, it's time to part ways. Nothing short of a radical transformation will restore a healthy working relationship.

MajorMike's picture

First of all; Thanks for the best laugh I've had in years. I really thought way more of you two ladies than to let yourself get maneuvered into this kind of debacle. My respect for Imker - not so much. Does Don Haddix need a reality check on a regular basis? ABSOLUTELY! But that's not the point here anymore. You two went into this little ambush ill informed and ill prepared, wound up doing more harm than good and making fools of yourself in the bargain. As the expression is used; The Mayor just "left 'em jerking".

Do you two really think that a criticism from Don Haddix or an apology from you, for that matter, is going to make a rat's backside difference in ANYTHING that GADOT does. A blinking caution light on a very dangerous spot on a State highway is a "major victory" ... I don't think so.

The only semi relevant subject that you listed was the relationship with the FCDA and the Mayor DOES need to rethink that issue. Imker says that you three will ask him to resign if you don't get what you want? Bwahahaha.

Seriously, don't the three of you have enough egg on your face now? Don't like negativity? Then GET OUT OF POLITICS!

Thanks to The Citizen for a comprehensive and fairly reported news piece.

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