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Dienhart off to rocky start with PTC Council

For someone who pledged to improve relationships among council members, Peachtree City councilman-elect George Dienhart didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts.

During the campaign, Dienhart pegged sitting councilman Eric Imker as being a significant source of the strife among council members.

Dienhart also went out on a limb saying he felt Imker’s opponent, Steve Allen, “would be easier to work with” for himself and the other councilmembers.

Those brash statements drew criticism from sitting councilmembers Kim Learnard and Vanessa Flesich, who both said they have enjoyed working with Imker, and they were supporting his re-election.

Learnard further criticized Dienhart for attempting to put words in her mouth and argued that Imker was very easy to work with.

So before he even technically “won” the election, Dienhart was off to a rocky start with his fellow councilmembers. He is hoping to convince them that his campaigning for Allen was “just politics.”

“I’m sure both Eric and I can put aside politics now and work toward the best interest of the city,” Dienhart said. “I know we both have that in mind in the decisions we make. I think one thing we can agree on is that council needs to work together.”

Dienhart said he wants to have a private meeting with Imker and Mayor Don Haddix, who have clashed several times at council meetings, with an eye on brokering a truce between the two.

If Dienhart were in office, such a meeting wouldn’t be possible because Georgia open meetings law frowns on a quorum of city council members meeting outside of the public eye.

Dienhart said Thursday afternoon that Haddix has already accepted the offer, but he has not yet heard from Imker.

“I think we’re fighting over shades of gray almost,” Dienhart said. “The rest of the stuff we need to agree to disagree. ... I think everyone is at the point where they want to do that, but they need someone to point them in the right direction.”

Dienhart is pledging to use his website to explain each of his votes within five days of any given council meeting, in an effort to keep citizens informed of his thinking. He also will be using Twitter, and is looking forward to quarterly “meet and greet” events.



Is it just me or does this proposed meeting kind of feel like a set-up? It seems to me that Dienhart is not putting the politics aside and instead has aligned himself with Haddix. This public announcement of the proposed meeting and the comment that Haddix has and Imker has not accepted just seems like a political stunt to me.

Maybe I'm being overly cynical.

NUK_1's picture

Dienhart isn't even in office yet and already thinks he *knows* what to do in terms of Haddix and Imker "getting along?"

After Haddix's posts here right before the election and Dienhart openly campaigning against him, if I'm Imker, I don't bother responding to Dienhart. If George wants to talk to him, he can do it one-on-one with no legal problems or see him on the dais every meeting.

At this point, I don't have a lot of confidence that George has any clue as to what he is doing.

Randy Boyett's picture

Clueless in Peachtree City

Randy Boyett

Extending my PTC politics as a movie rift, I fully intended to shift from Japanese monster movies to Star Wars, but with the entry of Sir George on the main stage, I now see that we are in uncharted film waters!

Hizzoner is already firmly established as the Yard Gnome, and I think Sir George looks a lot like a Sasquatch--those big redwood forest dwellers out in the Pacific Northwest and not the fraidy-cat black-bear-looking ones here in Jawjuh. So, that leaves Eric 'Budget Master' Imker to cast. I have noted that in his Citizen pics, he looks a bit like I imagine that Fuzzy Wuzzy would after losing most of his hair, a bit bewildered but still pretty happy nonetheless, and still up for snatching some picnic baskets with Yogi!

So, I think the best parody film title for our threesome is well suited for a wrestling theme! I suggest:

'Sub-Species Throw-Down in PTC!'

Or, if you are the more literary type, we could go with 'Look Gnome-Ward Angel!'

If it attracts sufficient interest from Citizen readers, I think we can get some production interest from those Zombie show people!

Can the Dawgs hope to score against LSU?

citizenal's picture

At least he has some energy and is expounding an understanding that taxes are not the solution - unlike Learnard and Fleisch. Or Imker who says no taxes and then supports the largest increase on the table.

Randy Boyett's picture

We'll give him energy. He had the energy to make baseless accusations later proven wrong. He had the energy to try to put words into Council Woman Learnard's mouth, only to be proven wrong. He then had the energy to send out a letter basically saying Learnard was lying about what he said in the paper. Yep, lots of energy there.

As for Imker, were you asleep when he proposed a plan that would have eliminated the need for any tax increase? And when it was not accepted, were you asleep when the reality of the numbers showed the only way to keep the City from facing a possible bankruptcy was the increase that was taken.

And just so you know, there was nobody in those budget meetings that felt we should not have raised taxes more than me. But when I did my homework I realized why it was necessary if the Imker budget proposal did not fly. He had no other choice than the budget position that was taken. After looking at it in some detail, I was convinced it was an integrity based decision for what was best for the City and citizens. I didn't have to like it but I do respect it.

So in doing my homework I also tried to understand the positions of the other Council Members. You should talk to them personally so that you understand their perspectives. I came away convinced that Council Women Learnard and Fleisch voted the way they did out of a conviction of what they thought was best for Peachtree City. I very much disagreed with their vote on the budget - but I was absolutely convinced of their integrity and desire for what was best for the City and the citizens. At the end of the day I would much rather have someone of integrity and conviction to do what they think is right for the citizens.

We have seen the flip side of that. I'll go with integrity and conviction every day.

Randy Boyett

A Labrador Retriever puppy has a lot of energy but if not contained he will simply dump all over the house, take a whiz on the curtains, and chew up your bedroom slippers. Having a lot of energy is not in and of itself a noble characteristic if said energy is not channeled appropriately, and so far George hasn't shown he has any more direction than the aforementioned pup.

Randy Boyett's picture

you might want to think of something Chicago for this one. Maybe Blagojevich?

Randy Boyett

Randy Boyett's picture


It looks to me as if you are right on. It was pretty obvious Dienhart = Haddix and Allen = Haddix. All either of them could offer was accusations or motherhood and apple pie with no supporting plan. The accusations were proven groundless and it seemed pretty obvious that they came from Haddix.

After the deceit that was spread about Imker,if I were him I'd focus on what really matters to Peachtree City and just avoid Haddix and Dienhart. It seems to me they are irrelevant and I for one am happy that Chicago politics will not be calling the shots in Peachtree City.

Randy Boyett

Randy Boyett's picture

Dienhart, Allen and Haddix held a campaign activity at City Hall on October 17 to support a failed DAPC plan. Now he wants three Council members (yes, I know - he is not sitting on the Council yet but the rules should apply) to meet outside of the Council meetings.

So much for good judgement. The October 17 meeting demonstrated that he had no concern for the letter or spirit of the rules.

Randy Boyett

This guy is a problem. If you are worried about Haddix making PTC look dumb just wait until Dienhart gets rolling. He just seems to be so attention hungry. It's not enough for him to be on council he needs to be the center of attention and desperately wants to be seen as the problem solver or savior of our town. My prediction is that if at any point Dienhart and Haddix ever do anything good together that is when their relationship (assuming it really exists) will dissipate. It will happen because they are both so ego maniacal that they will get into a fight over who gets to claim glory.

Randy Boyett's picture

but maybe an Amen

Randy Boyett

an Ethics Violation. Has anyone investigated that on the state level?

Mike King's picture

George Dienhart is Peachtree City's Jesse Jackson who asks for all our attention, has nothing substantive to contribute, considers himself the Grand Mediator without knowledge of relevant issues, and expects his constituents to follow like lemmings. Other than being a political operative from Chicago just what, if anything, has the man accomplished? He was a Marine for six years, but for some reason decided he saw greener pastures and left.

This guy actually thinks he has a mandate because he ran unopposed.

George, take a bit of advice, simply shut up, listen, and just maybe you'll be constructive.

NUK_1's picture

Jorge DOES remind me of the Rev. Shakedown and from Chicago to boot...hmm.

George is here to right our fall, he's heard our troubled call!

to anything to override the three adults in the room?! Don't think so!

Randy Boyett's picture

is irrelevance

Randy Boyett

kevink's picture

And it seems he is off to a less than smooth start, but I wouldn't question a guys length of service. He probably did 6 more years than your average American. That means he should be quite trainable ;-)

Vote Mytmite in 2012!

the coach rarely appoints the team captain. Instead, the rest of the team selects that leader based on experience, trustworthiness, and play on the field. In this situation, you don't even have the coach's support... rather you have already assigned yourself team captain and you haven't even seen the locker room yet.
The best advice I can give you is to go to Home Depot, buy a roll of the extra-wide duct tape and a pack of superglue. Cut off, let's say, a pretty long piece of the tape. Cover the adhesive side of the strip with super glue and affix it over your mouth. Don't remove until Independence Day and then MAYBE you will have something worth saying that doesn't resemble a kindergarten kid going to 1st grade for the first time and telling the teachers how school should be conducted.

mudcat's picture

2 impossible tasks.
First he has to get Haddix to stop grandstanding and spouting off about things of which he has no knowledge.
Then he has to get Imker to the meeting and get him to say he will tone down the rhetoric and not speak his mind when he feels like it.
And he's going to get the two of them to say that in front of each other?
And then he's going to take credit for the everlasting peace that will take over the city council? Any bets on how many meetings it takes before business as usual.

Take on something easier, George. Maybe get Bank of America to start a department that actually helps homeowners with their mortgage problems.

Imker is correct in avoiding that circus.

Muddy, I sense that Sir Jorge may out-grandstand the great pooh-bah of grandstanding himself!

Vote No on NASCAR politics in PTC!

Randy Boyett's picture

Maybe a DNA test is warranted. There seems to be a lot of inbred similarities in said individuals. The brotherhood? Let's see - last I checked it was majority vote. Does 3 trump 2?

Wait until Friday. I'd bet we see hizzhonor and minion on the boards whining about the Council meeting. There sure seems to be a lot of clues that point to hizzhonor wanting the EDC to go to DAPC so he would have a job and be out of reach of the Council. If DAPC goes, he may need to practice "welcome to ..."

At any rate I can't wait for Friday because you know someone will be twisting everything showing how great they are and how dumb the Council is. Some things never change. Look for a good board day Friday - if history is an indicator then it will be a target rich opportunity for facts.

Randy Boyett

The question is, will the whining and crying on Friday match the antics of Thursday night? I can hear Haddix now:

Haddix: I object!
Haddix: Overruled...
Haddix: You can't overrule my objection, only the Mayor can overrule.
Attorney: Mayor, you can't overrule your own objection
Haddix: Why not, I am the Mayor, isn't this about the election?
Learnard: The election is over Mayor.
Haddix: Who won? I object to the results anyway, and then I overrule.
Council: What?

Mike King's picture

All we need now is for Sir George (thanks Ninja) to proclaim that the 'Big Three' are out to get him and Peachtree City will have a cloned Don Haddix. One can see the resemblance, the proclivity to speak without thought, and the obvious need for attention.

Peachtree City loses Doug Sturbaum at the end of the year and gains an individual who appears to be opposite in all respects. Take for example the quiet demeanor in which Doug has gone about his duties, and if one eliminates the "Me and Sturbaum" rants one would have to agree that Mr Sturbaum's tenure has been one of quiet dignity. While I have not agreed consistently with Mr Sturbaum, I contend that he will sorely be missed.

If one truly believes our Council is in need for someone to "push them in the right direction" as Mr Dienhart states, wouldn't that individual doing the pushing have an idea as to where he is pushing?

I'm still waiting to learn what it is our new Councilman can deliver other than hot air.

Randy Boyett's picture

Wasn't it Louis Carroll that gave us: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." Looks to me like he is on schedule to nowhere. And he has the right traveling partner.

Can anyone say plan?

Randy Boyett

Busy Bee's picture

<a href="">We're On The Road To Nowhere</a>

SPQR's picture

One picture is worth a thousand words

Kim Learnard has a fragile ego and Don Haddix acts like a grumpy old man.

These two have got to go and I'm still thinking about Vanessa Fleisch.

You have to feel sorry about the new guy having to work with the current bunch of nut jobs.

Randy Boyett's picture

Facts support at least half of you assumption. We have proven that hizzhonor has been less than factual on numerous occasions.

What I haven't seen is any factual information to support your claim re Council Woman Learnard. I don't always agree with her (or any other elected official) but I have not ever seen anything that makes me question her integrity or convictions. If you have something factual, it would be great to share it.

Personally, I don't always agree with any elected official on all matters. I do expect them to be truthful.

Randy Boyett

ptctaxpayer's picture

Give the new guy a chance. In a couple of months if he screws up, the Dice man will be there to hammer him. But he's a Marine--- he's not likely to woosie out. Give him a chance. Lousy headline Citizen.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I mean what is the actual story here? A rehash of pre-election "news"? Thought it was semi-interesting back then and sure George was headed down the wrong road, but he has mostly shut up and I'd like to think he has learned Haddix is damaged goods and has abandoned that alliance as well as the "Can't we all just get along" intervention.
I wonder if the headline writer also picked out the photo? Wonder how many photos he had to choose from? Is there a message in the photo?

Kudos to Kim and Vanessa for supporting Eric, but even that is old news.

Sure George is a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine) and you can expect some spine and character and adherence to the rules (like for example the city charter and oath of office) - not quite in Ray Davis territory however, and I am forced to remind you of our last Marine on council, Steve Rapson who really did have a strong alliance with a questionable mayor.
So yes indeed, let us wait and see - but we also need to be watching carefully as there is loose cannon potential here.

Live free or die!

Dienhart is indeed another Jesse Jackson. Big blowhard with no substance. What made him leave Chicago? He learned his thug style politics there for sure. Now he goes off at a City Council meeting and storms out. Real class.
Go back up to Chicago, when all your hot air blows over, please.

ptctaxpayer's picture

Hard to believe that it's been 6 months. Yup, ya called out the Dice Man on this. I just had hoped for good things. But then again there are two kinds of Marines: (1) the courageous warrior and (2) the fastidious company man.

I hope he ain't the latter but its sure looking that way. He needs to send staff packing on some of this crap.

I'm not sure why you think I am looking like a "company man" here. I was going to vote against the no bid contract for IT Services. I am leading the charge against wasting 30k on the police motorcycle, and I called out both sides on the arguing in council chambers. That doesn't seem like "company man" behavior to me.

As always, I will put the people of Peachtree City first, and you are right to call me on it if I don't. Not sure how I have failed in that regard.

motorcycle is a subjective comment. If I were to take the suggestion of our police chief who has 30 years experience in law enforcement and who has kept this city just about the safest in north Georgia since he took over vs.the demand of a newly seated council member on any management of our PD, I know which way my decision will go on that one. "Leading the charge". Is that a military term? So forceful. Funny, those that live here actually want to hear a debate on the expense of a 30k item. Isn't that what our council is all about? Decisions should be made after hearing the facts and listening to opposing views. Just as we want bids for contracts on all big ticket items unless there is some pressing reason not to.

As the Chief noted in the most adult response in the whole conversation, he did not anticipate such a backlash against his proposal and wanted to get more information together so that an informed decision could be made at a future meeting. Coming in and "leading the charge" is not how I want my elected representatives making up their minds. Although, being on a ballot, unopposed, could hardly be called being elected. For that, we are all responsible for the outcome.

Just an FYI, I have seen the motorcycle in action on many occasions, on the streets, in a school zone more than once, on the highway, and working some of the charity events. I will wait to hear what the facts are before I decide how I feel this should be voted upon.

And I don't have that information yet. As for the discussion, we did. 2 were for it, 2 were against and one asked for additional information. For my part, I believe this is a luxury item. The officer can utilize a car, or better yet, one of the ATV's the taxpayers bought the PD. Right now we have one motorcycle and one trained motorcycle officer, so the vehicle isn't even being utilized to it's full capability.

The problem with this purchase is that the vehicle is not a necessity. Council has been on a bit of an infrastructure spending binge lately. This spending was necessary, but also expensive. If we, as a council, are going to be responsible stewards of your money, we must do what we can to avoid unnecessary purchases. This would include no bid purchases for redundant vehicles. The facts are we have vehicles that can do everything this vehicle does, without spending the 30k. We have bikes and ATV's for the multipurpose paths and cars for the streets. As Councilman Imker pointed out, we have more vehicles in the PD than we do sworn officers. This is something we need to correct.

Of the reasons given by Chief Clark, there were none that could not be done by the other vehicles in the fleet. That make this a redundant luxury the city cannot afford.

Additionally, I don't believe that we know what the needs of the force are. When I was sworn in, one of the first things I did was ask for a map that plotted one years worth of crime. The PD could not produce it- they had to manually put together a spread sheet and Matt Robinson wrote a script to plot it in Google Maps. The PD currently has very limited analytic capability. We cannot even be sure that we need this vehicle until the Police Record Keeping software is deployed. I support the Chief in obtaining this capability and will continue to support him in the budget cycle. Helping the PD effectively deploy its officers is a public safety "must have". Putting an officer on a bike instead of an existing police car is not.

The best way I can sum this up is a Christmas List. There is only so much money to go around. A kid may ask for a new PC and a mountain bike. This year there's only enough money for the PC and some tube socks. This also happens to be the most practical course of action. With the economy being what it is and past councils not funding infrastructure, this 30k is better spent elsewhere.

As for leading the charge- I am guilty. I will continue to lead the charge if I see wasteful spending. All 5 councilmembers should be leading that charge.

You don't have all the information yet, and you have already decided to vote against it. Say no more.

I tried to explain to you why I think as I do. The Chief will have as much time as he needs Thursday night to convince 3 of us to fund the motorcycle. Any of us could change our mind. Thanks for you interest in local government.

I'm sorry, did I miss the "3 yes" vote already taken?

Please detail the "3 yes vote" for all of us here. Who does it consist of and when was that vote arrived at?

3 out of 5 is a majority. The Chief needs 3 Councilmembers to vote yes to get the motorcycle.

in this county who is not familiar with the "3 yes vote" majority. You're preaching to the choir here, Councilman.

How long do you ever want work for anyone who states up front, before you even finish what you present, that they won't agree to it?

How long does anyone have a good, productive relationship with anyone else, if they are not given the opportunity to state their case before you blow them out of the water with objections and negativity?

I suggest you take a good look at the sponsor of the recent "spending spree by Council" you bring up to find the source of it's origin.

Your lack of willingness to be objective for this Police Chief and his staff who have done everything in their power to make all of our difficult lives a little easier and safer saddens me. The tone has now been set for this vote and too bad for that.

NUK_1's picture

Dienhart stated the obvious AFTER you seem mystified about the process and what 3 votes mean. The fact that you are hardly "objective' about the money-grubbing police chief we now have is also not surprising. The quality of policing in PTC has dropped noticeably under the reign of "Skip" to the point that now the City wants to start gutting his department since they seem to have so much free time that they can setup ineffective and nuisance roadblocks and also sit around in medians for hours.

When you fail as badly as Skippy has, it only makes sense that Council is going to come after you pretty hard, and in this case, getting rid of a layer that separates him from accountability as well as any sketchy budget requests he makes. Seems like they want to hold a guy's feet to the fire who was totally unqualified for the job in the first place and had none of the background of who he replaced. The sooner he's gone, the better. He couldn't carry Murray's jock strap and has no clue about community policing. That's what happens when you come from a humongous metropolis of like 5,000 people. Woo.

PTC Observer's picture

Come on Nuk, tell us how you really feel......

I think there is a failure on both sides of this equation. Chief Clark did not come well prepared to defend his request in a budget squeezing environment. Dienhart did not hold his powder until all the facts had been presented so he could at least look open minded, impartial and above all statesman like.

Either way it exposes what is wrong with the operation of the city, a lack of leadership. We have no legitimate claim to a fully functional government.

Sadly, our Mayor is not capable of pulling this group together, through his actions he has lost all creditably with those that work with him and most of the citizens of this city. Under current circumstances, we cannot expect the current group of council members to work together for the good of the community. They each seem to have individual agendas, this may not be true, but it certainly looks like it.

So, we must wait for the next election I am afraid and hope that PTC citizens actually take an interest in their government.

cogitoergofay's picture

Good observations and most notably I agree with your overall conclusion that the problem in PTC is dysfunction due to no leadership. All five members of council (from the bloggers on here) seem guilty.

The real issue at hand is financial stability in the most difficult of economic times.

The Council has been giving money away on pet projects that please individual interest groups and yet they ignore fundamental needs and requirements. Imker says pull it out of reserves ("rainy day fund"). Haddix says raise the stormwater fee or the general tax rate but don’t raise both. No one will bite the bullet.

And yet with the discord, they get hung up on minor things making it appear (as one blogger said) that they are stepping over dollars in order to save pennies. The real question is WHO IS REALLY RUNNING CITY HALL ?

Mike King's picture

Sure there's enough failure to go around, but given the chance I believe that Dr Pennington has the city at least looking to cut positions that elected officials wouldn't dare. Take for example the police department, surely one realizes that there are far too many chiefs literally sitting around watching and waiting for their patrolmen to tell them something has happened. The same goes for the PTCFD as evidenced by the number and type of vehicles reporting to the most minor of instances.
I agree the Mayor is incapable of pulling any of the three so called dissidents on Council to his side for he has publicly burned those bridges. Add to that a refusal to accept responsibility, criticism, or even listen to reason make him a lucrative target for recall although the cost would be prohibitive.
My major concern is will Dr Pennington remain for the next twenty months.

we get a new Mayor.

You took the words right out of my mouth stoogeman. Rather than approach the discussion with an open mind, he comes in with his mind made up even though as he says he doesn't have enough information to make a decision. And then look at his response to your post. Basically, "I've already made up my mind even though I have no facts for the basis of my position so it's up to you to convince me I'm wrong." Seems an a** backwards way of arriving at a decision to me. Had hopes for Georgie when he was elected but I'm afraid we've elected another small headed person to council.

Busy Bee's picture

Dandy Don announced prior to the council hearing that he had no intention of approving the senior apartments in the Kedron Village. So the developer threatened to sue over lack of due process, and voila'! the council approved it. Yes, George needs to learn to at least make the appearance of having an open mind and review all of the information before making a decision or else he will get the city into trouble.

Don Haddix's picture

No, that is not how we ended up with NorSouth.

They sued us for non compliance with Federal Housing standards for not having enough qualifying low income senior housing.

At the Workshop, four on Council said they had no such interest in this project. Fully legal.

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

Mike King's picture

...Of course you're stating unequivocally that your words had absolutely nothing to do with the city being sued and caving in to the higher density. Or, are you shedding responsibility once again? I guess you're going to blame Imker and the ladies.


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