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It's official: Steele ousts Haddix as Fayette transportation roundtable rep

For all intents and purposes it will be Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele who will be one of the two Fayette County representatives on the Regional Transportation Roundtable that will produce a list of proposed transportation projects for the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

The final list to be determined later will go before voters in mid-2012 in the form of a 10-year, one-cent transportation sales tax.

Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) Planning Director Todd Long said that, given the stipulation in the law, the group of Fayette County mayors had until midnight on Nov. 10 to make any other change of mayoral representation beyond the one made earlier this week when the mayors of Woolsey, Brooks and Fayetteville voted 3-0 to change the representative from Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix to Fayetteville’s Steele.

Haddix had been elected earlier in the fall to be the county’s mayoral representative. Neither Haddix nor Tyrone Mayor Don Rehwaldt attended the meeting Monday night when Steele was elected.

Questioned about which mayor should represent the county on the RTR, Todd said he had received no other communication from Fayette County by midnight on Nov. 10. That said, and with Steele being the most recent selection by the Fayette mayoral caucus on Monday, it will be Steele who will represent Fayette beginning in 2011, along with the new Fayette County Commission chairman.

Long said the one-cent transportation sales tax legislation (House Bill 277) was very clear that a mayoral representative was to be elected by Nov. 10. The bill was very quiet on how that was to be done, Long said.

“I got a mayor representative from Peachtree City and (now) I’ve got a revised representative (in correspondence earlier this week) from Fayetteville,” Long said. “Common sense says you need documentation.”

The reason for that documentation deals with what Long said is outlined in the legislation that establishes the roundtables. The roundtables, he said, were intended to be locally controlled. Otherwise, the legislation would not have passed through the General Assembly, Long told The Citizen yesterday.

“The bill is very clear that the state is not part of the local selection process of a mayoral representative on the roundtable. I really do not think any of our 159 counties want the state to step in and decide representation from a county. As far as I can tell in my reading of the bill, a county can change their selection as many times as they want to before submitting a name to be on the roundtable by Nov. 10,” Long said in an email sent last night. ”I have heard from many of you and have talked to the press several times. I have been consistent in all of my answers. The last correspondence we have received was from a majority of mayors from Fayette County indicating that Ken Steele was chosen. It matters not that previous elections were held. I hope this clarifies my position and we can move forward.”

Haddix in an email Thursday night and subsequent to the one sent by Long gave his perspective on the issue.

“That is not agreeing with my communications with Todd Long. In an email conversation Todd Long said this needed resolved at the local level. He neither sided with Ken Steele or me. Like it or not that was a legal position to kick it back to Fayette County. It was made by the official at the final step of the process. My position is that the bill required an election on or before Nov. 10. That was accomplished with my name submitted and publicly acknowledged by Ken Steele in a press release. So a legal decision and announcement was made per HB 277 and Ken Steele made it,” Haddix said.

“Now, what will happen if both of us show up at a meeting? If one is seated over the other, that is a legal decision. If no one is seated that is a legal decision. So no matter how you phrase it, Todd Long has already made a legal decision in kicking it back and will have to make another if we both show up for meetings,” Haddix continued.

“So, what are my options? That would be to resign, refuse to resign and go to court or refuse to resign and not go to court forcing either Steele to go to court or Todd Long to make a decision on who, if anyone is seated. None are good options in my book.”

Haddix in his attempt to resolve the matter of Long’s statement solicited the opinion of state Rep. Matt Ramsey, an attorney with a Peachtree City law firm. Communicating Ramsey’s response, Haddix in a Wednesday email indicated that Ramsey had said, “This required being taken to court to resolve it. He neither sided with Ken Steele or me. But that, again, was a legal decision.”

Contacted Thursday, Ramsey provided The Citizen with a copy of his exact response to Haddix.

“No, I am not making a statement as to the appropriateness or inappropriateness of any action by the DOT. You said in your original email that the guy at DOT is ‘refusing to take a position’ and I’m suggesting it would be inappropriate for the DOT, or any executive branch official for that matter, to in any way arbitrate a dispute such as this,” Ramsey told Haddix.

“As for my position, I believe in a very strict construction of the U.S. and Georgia constitutions and strongly believe in adhering to the constitutionally mandated separation of powers set out in both those documents,” Ramsey continued. “Our Constitution set up an explicit and distinct separation between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of our government which should be followed to preserve the proper checks and balances established in our system of government. It would be a gross overstep of my role as a legislator to render a legal judgment or opinion in a dispute over the application of a statute in a local matter such as this. Repeated examples in recent years of elected officials ignoring the fundamental framework of our Constitution are exactly why people are mad at government, as you suggest they are. Arbitrating disputes and interpreting laws is the province of the judicial branch of government.”

The mayoral maelstrom, at least in part, stems from recent comments by Haddix, and Rehwaldt, surfacing the idea that Fayette County might benefit more from moving from the ARC to the more rural Three Rivers Regional Commission. Those statements were a main thrust of the meeting Monday night when Steele was elected to replace Haddix as the Fayette mayoral representative.


1st print version 11-10-10 by JOHN MUNFORD and BEN NELMS —

Call it a lexical standoff: Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix is either on or off an important regional group, depending on whom you ask and which law they cite.

Fayette County may — or may not — have a new representative on a regional “roundtable” group of officials who are compiling a list of transportation projects for a potential one percent regional sales tax.

Three of Fayette’s five mayors met Monday evening and voted 3-0 to appoint Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele as the new mayoral representative to the roundtable.

In theory, Steele would be replacing Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix, whom the mayors had elected to the same position on a 3-2 vote several weeks ago. Haddix contends that he remains the representative since the legislation which created the roundtable contains no language that would allow any roundtable representative to be removed.

The three mayors who voted for Steele, including Brooks Mayor Dan Langford, Woolsey Mayor Gary Laggis and Steele himself, argued that the legislation, House Bill 277, allows them the leeway to appoint a representative other than Haddix.

At the meeting, Steele said Haddix’s comments opposing the sales tax had damaged Fayette’s credibility on the 21-member roundtable.

“Our obligation is to take HB 277 and play as prominent a role as possible,” Steele said. “There must be projects for each constituency or it will lose support.”

Haddix said Monday that he would not resign, adding that it would be up to state Transportation Director Todd Long to determine whether he or Steele is Fayette’s mayoral representative on the roundtable. Fayette has one other representative on the roundtable, recently-defeated County Commission Chairman Jack Smith, who will be replaced in January when the commission elects a new chairman.

Haddix boycotted Monday’s called meeting of the mayors based on a contention that any vote to remove Haddix “will be void by law and case law,” he wrote in a letter to his fellow mayors. Tyrone Mayor Don Rehwaldt also skipped the meeting but advocated for Haddix to remain the representative.

While there has been some argument that the law didn’t contain any ability to remove a roundtable member because the legislature didn’t consider it, Haddix points out that the law includes language that allows for MARTA board members to be removed from their posts.

As of this writing it is not certain whether Haddix or Steele will be Fayette’s mayoral representative on the roundtable. But time is of the essence to settle the issue as the roundtable’s first “official” meeting is slated for next month to formally vote on criteria by which the various regional transportation projects will be judged.

The clamor for Haddix to be replaced was voiced countywide, as the Peachtree City, Tyrone and Fayetteville city councils voted last week to ask the group of Fayette’s five mayors to appoint someone other than Haddix to the position.

At last week’s Peachtree City Council meeting, some of Haddix’s fellow council members argued that Haddix damaged the county’s credibility in the negotiation process due to his failed bid to have Fayette County removed from the Atlanta Regional Commission in an effort to perhaps avoid the sales tax entirely.

The sales tax, if approved region-wide among Fayette and nine other counties in the metro Atlanta area, is anticipated to raise about $700 million a year for 10 years.

Haddix, who several weeks ago contended there are no regional projects in Fayette County that will qualify for the regional transportation funding, has since said that specifically he would ask for improvements to the often-clogged interchange between Ga. Highway 74 north and Interstate 85 in Fairburn.

Haddix contends that because the funds will be spent on areas of high traffic congestion, Fayette stands to be paying into the regional sales tax far more than it will receive in return in transportation improvement projects.

Another significant hurdle for any Fayette projects making the regional sales tax list is a requirement that the projects already be “underway” in some shape or form, which at a minimum means having some sort of engineering study or traffic analysis done and can include the purchase of necessary right of way, Haddix said.

Fayette has no such projects that have advanced to those levels, Haddix said.

Haddix said he is working to make changes so Peachtree City’s golf cart path system can qualify for regional funding. He also argued that he will represent all of Fayette County, as he has already communicated with officials from Tyrone and has met with the Brooks Town Council for a question and answer session about the regional transportation roundtable.

“I made it real clear that even though Peachtree City is the key, we are one county. And I already said that on regional projects I am going to fight for the things that help Fayette County,” Haddix said.

While Haddix acknowledged that projects just outside Fayette County could benefit Fayette residents, such as the potential widening of Ga. Highway 314 in Clayton County, Fayette County cannot submit that project for funding on the list.

Furthermore, Haddix argues that the improvements to the I-85/Hwy. 74 interchange, while a high priority for Fayette County, would not be supported by other members of the roundtable.

Haddix contends that the “core counties” of metro Atlanta, which are the largest population-wise and includes Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett, have the majority voting power of 11 votes so they can fully control what is on the final roundtable-approved project list, which is the same one that will be going before voters for the regional tax.

Any transportation project not on that list is ineligible for funding from the sales tax, which if approved is expected to rake in $7 billion over the 10-year period.

Haddix contends that the reasoning for removing him from the roundtable has to do with his wish for Fayette County to leave the Atlanta Regional Commission and join the more rural Three Rivers Regional Commission, which includes Coweta and Spalding counties among others further south of Atlanta.

Specifically, Haddix cites a 2007 transit plan created for metro Atlanta called Concept 3, which included a bus system that would run through Clayton, Fayette and Coweta counties and a potential light rail corridor going through Tyrone, Peachtree City and into Senoia with a final terminus of downtown Atlanta.

“If we were to leave and go to Three Rivers ... what does that do to Concept 3?” Haddix said. “You just removed a whole county from the plan ... it would punch a big hole in the plan. I believe that was a major catalyst here.”

Haddix contends there is a broad move to have Concept 3 projects funded by the tax, and that there is an initiative underway to create a regional transit agency that would remove local decision-making from the transit process at the county level.

Several years ago, the Fayette County Commission declined an offer to fund commuter buses in a partnership with the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Instead, a number of Fayette residents have taken transit into their own hands, signing up for a vanpool service in which residents rideshare during their commutes using a large van.

Tyrone Mayor Don Rehwaldt, who supported Haddix’s failed bid to move Fayette from the Atlanta to the Three Rivers Regional Commission, wrote his fellow mayors a letter urging them to allow Haddix to keep his seat on the roundtable.

“Please take the high road and realize that any action you are contemplating is really not an ethical direction and that you should honor the official, and only, voting results,” Rehwaldt wrote. “Ken, I am speaking from the heart! An attempt to remove Mayor Haddix from the Regional Roundtable is almost a moot point and will have no effect on the outcome of selected projects.”



I would offer to you sir that a vote of "no confidence" issued by your own city council members as well as those of three standing mayors of cities and towns within Fayette County plus the governing authority at GRAT is sufficient grounds for your removal from the RTR.

Please save the citizens of Fayette County the embarrassment of having to take this step as it will be your last both in the RTR and PTC.

If you don’t resign your initial posting to the RTR I and several others will request a vote of "no confidence" from the current PTC city council, the city councils of Brooks, Tyrone, Fayette, Woolsey and the governing board of GRTA and you will be removed with the disgust and disrespect you have brought upon yourself.

Here is some of the contact information for the voting members that can remove you:

Brooks Mayor:
Tyrone Mayor:
Fayette Mayor:
Woolsey Mayor: (770) 471-7100
Atlanta Mayor:

Please don’t think for a minute that I won’t hit the send button.

Anyone wishing to voice an opinion to these people is encouraged to do so.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Mayor Haddix is really troubled by 3-2 votes and I think he believes they don't count if he is on 2 (or losing) side as he so often seems to be. If he can't read these tea leaves and gracefully resign from RTR, we need to write him off as an egotist worse than Brown (yes it is actually possible) and cleanse ourselves of him via a recall petition. Allowing him to show up and pontificate at the state or even regional level, embarrasses our fair city and we don't need to do that again.

Live free or die!

Worse than Brown...I'm beginning to think it too.

NUK_1's picture

I figured he might be which is why held my nose and voted for Plunkett. While Brown has plenty of his own faults, a lack of intelligence isn't one of them; he's a pretty sharp guy. I cannot say that at all about Haddix.

mudcat's picture

Worse than Brown is almost impossible and he's only been mayor for a year. He has to run off an experienced city manager and replace him with a flunky; he has to antagonze the Fayette County Commission, the ARC and DOT; he has to get a couple of ethics complaints; he has to chill economic development in PTC; he has to proceed with some stupid personal issue against the advice of the city attorney: in fact he has to get rid of the city attorney as well. And then in the end he has to be so bad that he draws 6 opposition candidates to run against his second term.

I'm not sayin' he ain't tryin', but Haddix has a long way to go before he can even be considered WTB.

TinCan's picture

I just came to the realization that he the reason for the demise of state asylums is that all potential residents are now in public office.

mudcat's picture

A day after I write that Haddix can't be worse than Brown, I discover that he already taken one giant step forward by writing a letter to DOT Director Todd Long saying he won't give up his RTR seat even though the other mayors in Fayette voted him out. Not surprisingly, Director Long didn't even hesitate when he said he will abide by the decision of the Fayette mayors - according to this AM's AJC.

Now this bonehead, self-promoting move by Haddix does indeed qualify him for one of the many Worse than Brown criteria - specifically annoying the DOT. Dumb as the Haddix letter is at least the DOT people are not openly laughing at him as they did (and possibly still do) with the brown clown. I acknowledge that Haddix can jump into first place in this category by showing up at the next RTR meeting and refusing to leave, but he wouldn't do that. Would he?

So I think he's definitely infected by the WTB syndrome from which there is no known cure. It is simply a matter of progression towards irrelevancy. Maybe it would be more accurate to name this ABAB - As Bad As Brown Syndrome, then we wouldn't have to fret over degrees of bad behavior or pick nits.

When you voted him in. Again not him but he's just the puppet of his main man who picked him, supported him and got him pushed through. Not his fault, what did you know about the guy, never held public office before, retired at such a young age (why), be careful what you wish for next time. His agenda was given to him and he is following it by the nose. Pleassssse know your candiate before you vote. Or better yet throw your hats into the ring instead of yelling foul or in PTC more appropriate 'four'.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Pleassssse tell us what you mean, pumpkin. Who is this "main man" that picked and pushed Haddix? I never heard about that before. And retiring at a young age? He doesn't seem too young for retirement to me, but you obviously know something.

Or have I made a mistake in assumning you are talking about Haddix. This could easily apply to George Soros picking and pushing the Obama puppet.

Live free or die!

The guy has turned Fayetteville into the empty retail center of Georgia.

What on earth did he have to do with it?

Look for your guy in Dallas, Texas!

Buy his lieing book while there!

has done any better with PTC?

Ban anything that might go over the square footage. Ban any and all walking signs.

How anti small business do we let him go?

Mayor Haddix was simply NOT the right person for the job.

Want mass transit, don't want mass transit, pick one.

Shooting his mouth off and himself in the foot in the process was perhaps not the best move for Mayor Haddix to make so early in the game.

What I see now is a 3 year lame-duck mayor, with side-kick, because the majority of the current PTC council thinks he's lost it.

The PTC council is spiraling out of control. One thing I can say is it looks to me like Haddix keeps his business in the open. Ken Steele and his buddies Scarborough and Rolader are going to put a hurting on all of us.

I'm not sure Learnard, Imker and Fleisch are the right people for the job either. I'm sick of the petty arguments. Who in the hell is looking out for PTC anymore?

MajorMike's picture

Has it occured to anyone that this whole situation was a setup from day one?

Hopefully it will be a different ballgame come January.

I am willing to bet on this one!

The republican house will vote to furnish even more borrowed or printed money trying to resolve the unemployment situation and not end up with a DEPRESSION on their watch!

It will eventually work (five years) and the deficit will be 20 trillion!

There is only two ways to resolve this catastrophe from the 2000s, and they are:

Borrow our way out sooner. Or:
Cut spending "severely" causing a depression and much more unemployment and bank failures, and start over sooner.

Cutting taxes on corporations again will only pay stockholders more and pay off their debts! Also, it is totally an insufficient amount.

They all know that in Washington and vote according to party BS!

We can't cover up the drastic mistakes made between 2000 and 2008 it is so bad.

ginga1414's picture

it was a setup, and now Maxwell is trying the same thing. That's the way the Fayette County Political Machine works.

I will probably have my head handed to me but I'm going to say it anyway. Haddix and Brown are the only two folks in office/office elect that have the courage to tell it like it is.

It isn't going to be a pretty picture when Fayette County folks have to start funding the 2012 Regional Transportation SPLOST. The first time those buses start rolling through Fayette County there's going to be some hollering going on.

G35 Dude's picture

I'd never consider running for public office in this county. You people are a trip. If you allow a representative thats in favor of mass transit in Fayette county to sit on this board and we get mass transit it'll only be a short time before you're living in Atlanta. I moved here to get away from that. If you want to live in Atlanta move there. (Putting on flame suit for all of the hot pointed posts that will follow) LOL

If I'm reading this right Fayette county doesn't meet any of the criteria needed to receive any of these monies. They will take our money and spend it all in counties with higher density than ours.

Let's all start to use the MARTA station at the airport instead of raising money for dekalb, and fulton counties. They aren't worth it. The MARTA station at the airport is easy to use and a fast commute to Buckhead. Most of us work at the airport anyway. The money that fuels this town comes from pilots and other airline employees. Did PTC all of a sudden move further south from the airport??

I don't work at the airport!

I don't know many in PTC who work at the airport!

Did you work for Eastern and Delta before bankruptcy?

I think maybe old folks and assisted living renters have beat you out.

I suppose you do keep Swoozies and the massage parlors busy, and the butt and face clippers and snippers. (gotta stay ahead of those flight attendants).

Mostly though you visit Buckhead to spend your money, or elsewhere (Paris, Rome, etc.). Buy your books at B & T, maybe, or online!
The trouble with those out of town places though is that you can't threaten them with "I want a discount, I work for an Airline and have a lot of friends!"
Ask any retailer or professional!

ginga1414's picture

I would dare say that 90 to 95% of Fayette County citizens moved here to get away from Atlanta.

I've seen Fayette County go from a place where citizens could trust their public officials to a place where you have to watch your back every second for fear of what might come next. They are bulldozing $450,000 homes in upscale neighborhoods. They are trying to build thoroughfares through neighborhoods, wetlands and over creeks that supply drinking water for the county. They manipulate elections and judges have the morals of alley cats. Now, they are planning to have us fund mass transit and roads for every other county in the region.

It isn't a pretty picture, G35. Rest assured, however, you won't be receiving any hot pointed posts from me.

cogitoergofay's picture

G35 Dude--- you are so right ! I moved here to avoid the traffic of Atlanta and now we are inviting it back in with unnecessary roads that require us the taxpayers to maintain them. I debated with the late, great Dan Lakly when he was a commissioner to NOT switch to the ARC. He later admitted that it was a mistake.

Fayette has been a good place to live for quite a while but we are about to be swallowed up by Atlanta.

You are absolutely correct about building those roads from Atlanta to Peachtree City! With roads it will be so much easier for them to travel more quickly and more of them. And if there is a train or a bus also, they can live here and work there or vic-versa.

I know that to be a fact due to the fact that I have studied the Roman Empire and all of the roads they built to and from Rome. All roads even from England, led to Rome. Of course it was to supply the conquering Roman armies that they built them.

However, don't you know, the people on the other end of the road found those same roads handy, although they were cobblestones or logs and pretty bumpy, to go see what was so grandeur about the other end of the Road in Rome. The little boat ride into France posed little problem.

Rome couldn't feed all of them due to all of the farmers in the army, so the queen of Rome said, "feed them cake!"

I may have mixed some French History in there, but you get the possibilities.

We even once built a great big building in New York City to off-load people from everywhere, and a great big statue from France said this was the place for all of the world's poor and humble and mafia.

We hauled in tens of thousand from Orient to California to railroad acrosst the USA, also. "Shanghighed" them on boats, you see.
Then we took all them southwestern states from Poncho but kept the Mexicans
that were thar and now they is mixed up with them what came in later--they used tunnels mostly. The Underground forget that one!

No such statue is in Arizona yet.

You can hardly find a Scots-Irish or other Merican nomore whar ever one looks!

Gene61's picture

Fayette county doesn't meet any of the criteria , looks like its all about money..

As for Haddix, well the board has spoken, you're done.

It only takes about 30 mins. to get to the MARTA station at the airport. It's not that inconvenient, for some people in north Fayette it is even closer than that.

You are right Gene Fayette county doesn't seem to meet any of the criteria for dollars to be spent here. They want to take our money and we will get nothing to show for it.

Then the trip would take about 5 mins. and keep all those cars off of the I-85/Hwy.74 interchange.

...for doing what is right for Fayette County. It doesn't make sense that we pay into ARC for projects that do not benefit our community. If we were geographically closer to Atlanta, then it would make sense to pay into the "big pot" of ARC. You're upsetting the "good ol' boy network" that has been in place down here for decades - good for you!

(p.s. it was great seeing you at the Dragon Boat Races... our team came in 20th... not bad for our first time at the races!)

ginga1414's picture

Thank you for having the courage to stand up for the citizens of our county. There are a whole lot of folks in Fayette County who appreciate your openness and honesty. I appreciate the fact that you have provided information that others wouldn't provide.

NUK_1's picture

.....that were able to remove this backward and laughably egotistical close-minded "representative" so that at least FC has a snowball's chance of something good coming from this instead of absolutely nothing but more wasted money, missed opportunities and shame.

What is it with PTC mayors and their enormous egos attracting negative attention and making a joke out of PTC with their blather? The rest of FC was able to somehow keep that BS contained this time, though it has Brown to deal with for 4 years now.

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