East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott held a Town Hall Meeting Tuesday night in Smyrna. It was standing room only. Since the announcement that $300 million of Cobb taxpayers money would be handed over to a billionaire sports franchise owner, it has been difficult to get a seat at any commissioners meeting. Initially the problem was created by the Braves P.R. company packing meetings to create the impression of popular support.
The meeting was scheduled from 7:00-8:30. After an hour of non-stop rambling about minutia concerning the Braves, taxes, zoning, and on and on, the lady next to me asked if anyone would get a chance to ask a question. Eyes were glazing over and heads were nodding. Commissioner Ott was successfully wearing down the opposition and running out the clock.
At Bob Ott Town Hall meetings, time consuming rambling minutia is the order of the day, and then the meeting is over. In the limited time left for questions, motorcycle parking at the ball park (will check), speed bumps (time consuming to approve), sidewalks (expensive), police response time were briefly mentioned and the resignation of Public Safety Director Jack Forsythe. Mr. Forsythe left a 4 page letter explaining his resignation because the county would not spend the money needed to retain qualified fire and police personnel.
Commissioner Ott explained that Cobb had a longer training period for police officers and that other counties were willing to pay more and provide extras, like a car that they could take home. Also, the need for extra safety personnel at the future ball park was mentioned. Commissioner Ott said that, like Atlanta Braves Stadium, the Cobb Braves Stadium will have a police substation on site. This substation will require personnel to staff it. No mention was made concerning what areas of the county will have additional reduced police protection to provide the park area with security. The commissioner has voted no to police and fire raises and yes to a baseball billionaire.
Commissioner JoAnn Birrell and Helen Goreham also voted for the Braves gift. Commissioner Helen Goreham of West Cobb held a Town Hall meeting about giving the $300 million gift to the Braves and then announced that she would not seek re-election. Commissioner Ott was asked if he is going to run for re-election. He said that was 3 years down the road and too far for him to contemplate. Larry Savage was in the audience. He ran against Commission Chairman Tim Lee in the last Republican primary. Mr Savage didn’t have a word to say. He just sat and smiled.
Commissioner Ott said the response to the Braves coming to Cobb had been positive by show of e-mails. The smell of the Braves P.R. handy work was again in the air.