Editor's note: Randall Johnson sent this email to Johns Creek Patch, in response to a letter to the editor from Freda Hardage which was first published in the Johns Creek Herald. Ms. Hardage's questions are in quotation marks.
In response to your “Letter to the Editor” to the Johns Creek Herald, below are the facts that can be referenced in future communications. Given we are both members of the GNFCC, (Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce) and you are the incoming Chairman, I am sure you would want to be quoted accurately when you speak with the business community.
I've raised a family in Johns Creek and I also served on the Johns Creek Community Association Board. I am currently serving on the boards of Johns Creek Beautification and the advisory board of Johns Creek Advantage, our new economic development program for Johns Creek. Randall Johnson
Q: "Like most of the citizens of Johns Creek, I rely on our elected officials to do what is best to position our city for continued growth, safety and prosperity. The most recent actions of our City Council concerned me so I decided to start asking questions."
A: I agree with you Freda. This is a sad time and unfortunate events for the City of Johns Creek. I too have been a part of this community since 1996. I wished it had never happened.
On June 19 of this year, the Johns Creek City Council voted 5-0 to do an investigation of Mike Bodker, the current mayor. There was only one council member, Kelly Stewart, that opposed this investigation and she was on a planned family vacation and not present for the discussion or the vote.
Q:"Why did they instigate this investigation right before elections?"
A: As a member of an elected Board, you have two choices: sweep it under the rug; or investigate to seek the truth. If we waited, the public would criticize us (rightly so) for withholding information from them.
Q: "What brought this on? What were the allegations?"
A: This investigation was initiated because of allegations brought forward of violations of State and/or Federal law. Those allegations have been stated many times in the Press. They include receiving a gratuity from a Developer (in this case below market rent, furniture), voting on a project for that Developer, and that Developer contributing campaign contributions. Other allegations include interfering with Police, interfering with contract negotiations on land deals, and interfering with contract negotiations with our EMS vendors.
Q: "If most of the allegations are from past years, why didn't they bring this forward earlier?"
A: How do you know this that most of the allegations are from past years? The allegations brought to my attention were within the last year. Do you know something the Johns Creek City Council does not know?
Q: "Why did the council choose to hire an outside party to do the investigation at the taxpayer's expense?"
A: The Council chose an outside entity to ensure an unbiased, honest look at the allegations. The Law Firm we choose had no previous contact or any knowledge of activities with the City of Johns Creek and no contact with any individual on Council.
Q: "There were other ways to do this investigation that would not have cost the taxpayers any money. Why would they not follow the established Johns Creek ethics policy that currently exists? It would not be an additional cost to the taxpayers."
A: The Council chose to investigate the allegations because of potential violations of State and/or Federal laws. This is not only about unethical behavior; which the Mayor acknowledged in an open meeting onMay 10 of this year. Further, raising an ethics violation does require an outside appointed individual or company to investigate and that individual or company does charge the City for their time. Either way, the cost of this is due to the behavior and actions of Mike Bodker these costs land squarely at his feet.
Q: "This investigation is now in the fourth month and we are approaching $40,000 in costs and still nothing has been reported. But remember that now it is October and only a few weeks away from the election."
A: This is really sad and unfortunate it is taking this long. I personally believed this would have been finished by now. There are two reasons it is taking longer and getting more expensive: First, Mike Bodker is refusing to cooperate and has not turned over the requested documents. Second: the number of witnesses have grown. People have come out of the woodwork with information. I had no idea the witness list would have grown to the current size.
Q: "Bev Miller is one of our founding city council members and has decided to run for mayor. By failing to resign her council position just a few short weeks before the published August qualifying period, her actions now require the city to hold a costly special election in January to fill her position. The estimate to run this special election is $144,913.76."
A: This is false information put out there by Mike Bodker and his supporters. The Council discussed the issue of the election to fill Post 6 and the consensus was to follow the 2014 State and Federal primary election timetable. The City will formally announce in January the exact dates, but the tentatively dates would have qualifying in February, with the election in May or June. Because the polling machines are already up for these State and Federal primary elections, Johns Creek will not incur an additional cost.
Q: "Do we need to investigate the mayor? I don't know. My question is if we did, why did we wait until now to do it? Karen Richardson, Ivan Figueroa and Bev Miller have been members of the City Council for seven years. If they are asking for records from the past seven years, why did they wait so long?"
A: Members of Council are not requesting information. The Investigators are requesting the information. As I previously stated, the reason they requested back seven years is that is where the investigation is heading but that is not where it started. If Mike Bodker has nothing to hide, why is he withholding information? The Georgia Municipal Association is very clear on the policy that states if you use your personal phone for City business, your personal phone is subject to open records request. When the investigators asked for my personal cell phone records, I turned them over that same day.
"If they knew something was going on, they should have done this investigation long before now."