The committee is headed by former state Rep. Bill Atkins (R-Smyrna), a retired pharmacist whose sister, Babe Atkins-Byrne, is Byrne’s wife. Committee treasurer is Marietta CPA Dan Post, who serves on the Atlanta Regional Commission, and was treasurer of the pro-SPLOST Citizens for Cobb’s Future Committee earlier this year.
Other members include Suzanne Appenzeller, Ms. Atkins-Byrne, Paul Chastain (who ran unsuccessfully for the Georgia DOT board last winter and is former chairman of the Cobb Schools Foundation), InfoMart founder Tammy Cohen, John Delves, Margie Hatfield, Neva Lent, Julio and Maria Perez, Jim Serrate, Gerri and Art Staden, retired assistant county manager Roswell Story, Jim Vogel and Chris Waldman.
CUMBERLAND COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT and Cobb Chamber of Commerce officials are scurrying these days to justify the hefty $162,500 pay package they bestow on their executive director, Malaika Rivers. They contend to the MDJ that she is paid “market rates” for her work.
But they overlook the fact that the Town Center CID, right up the road and part of the same “market,” pays its director, Lanie Shipp, just $113,000 per year.
The CIDs are self-taxing districts that levy a 5-mill property tax over and above the millage set by the county. The Cumberland CID collects about $5.4 million in such taxes per year and the Town Center CID about $2.9 million.
Ms. Shipp is considered an independent contractor, so she must also pay her own almost 8 percent in Social Security and Medicare taxes. She also receives no fringe benefits — unlike the $45,000 Ms. Rivers gets on top of her salary, bringing her total compensation to $208,000 for doing essentially the same work as Ms. Shipp.
Despite the glaring discrepancy, Cumberland CID officials say any comparison to Ms. Shipp — or to county government managers who oversee far larger staffs (hundreds of people, in some cases) and much more substantial budgets, yet earn considerably less than Ms. Rivers — is a red herring.
Ms. Rivers has just three full-time employees on her Chamber-housed CCID staff. And CID workers have been exempt from the furloughs and years-long wage freeze county employees have had to endure. Ms. Rivers has enjoyed pay hikes of 5 percent per year each year since being named CID director in 2006.
Not to mention that Ms. Rivers makes regular use of a CID-provided American Express card for classy restaurants, travel and limousines. She and the other three staffers racked up hefty bills at posh eateries and upscale hotels in 2010 doing the CID’s work, according to records obtained by the MDJ.
As one AT reader noted, “She doesn’t leave home without it.”
Also, MDJ readers learned last week that the Town Center CID at its July meeting voted Ms. Shipp a 3 per cent pay raise, while the Cumberland CID very quietly bestowed a 5 per cent pay raise on its director without public discussion or public vote — information that was only discovered by an MDJ Open Records request.
A FUNDRAISER for Cobb Superior Court candidate Greg Poole is slated from 7-9:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at Mud Creek Ranch, 1226 Villa Ricca Road in west Cobb. Suggested contribution is $75 per family. Music will be by local band “Prime.” Poole, Cobb Juvenile Court judge, is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Dorothy Robinson. Also running for that seat are State Court Judge Roland Castellanos and assistant D.A. Van Pearlberg.
LONGTIME Cobb GOP activist Jason Shepherd has been named general counsel for the Young Republican National Federation Inc. He’ll head a staff consisting of a deputy general counsel and three assistant general counsels as the YRNF gears up for the 2012 elections. Shepherd recently served as General Counsel for the Cobb County Republican Party. … The Cobb County Young Republicans will hold a Georgia Political Blogger forum at their meeting tonight featuring Charlie Harper and Buzz Brockway from Peachpundit.com. The event will take place at The Original House of Lu on Cherokee Street in Marietta. For more, go to www.cobbyr.org. … Georgia Republicans will hold their annual fish fry Aug. 27 in Perry. Cost is $15, reports Cobb GOP Chair Joe Dendy.
SOUTHERN POLYTECHNIC STATE UNIVERSITY alumna Dot Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama last week as director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Minority Economic Impact. She is president and CEO of Jabo Industries LLC, a minority-woman owned management consulting firm concentrated primarily in the energy, information technology and healthcare industries, and formerly was an executive at GE. She has a master’s degree in technology management from SPSU, according to its PR director, Sylvia Carson.
WILLOW ANTIQUES TOO on Church Street, owned by Betty Weeks and Ann Sharpton, is closing Aug. 17 after 23 years in business just off Marietta Square. … Local Santa Claus carver Ron Ransom will be demonstrating his work there during Friday’s “Art Walk,” and plans to have his carvings available at two new locations by September.
AIR FORCE Col. Bill Bower, the last surviving pilot from the famous “Doolittle Raid” over Tokyo in early 1942, died recently at his home in Boulder, Col., AT has learned. Bower, who began his career as a cavalryman prior to World War II, later lived with his family in Cobb County for several years while stationed at Dobbins Air Base.
THE ANNUAL “Ethics, Professionalism & Malpractice” continuing legal education seminar at the Kennesaw State University Center in Kennesaw will take place Sept. 16 and awards 3 CLE hours. This year’s speakers are Patrick Longhi on New Challenges in Ethics, Randy Evans on Legal Malpractice Today and Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias on Professionalism. To register, call ICLE in Georgia (770) 466-0886 or visit www.iclega.org.
NEW COBB SCHOOL DISTRICT Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is quickly ingratiating himself into the community.
Hinojosa, who drew approving comments at town hall meetings around Cobb during the interview process for the superintendent’s job, loosened up and proved himself just one of the guys at last week’s Journal-sponsored 22nd Cobb Football Kickoff Luncheon at Roswell Street Baptist Church. Invited to the podium, Hinojosa quickly drew big laughs from the audience of Cobb high school coaches and guest speaker Paul Johnson, the Georgia Tech head coach.
Hinojosa, who came to Cobb after overseeing the nation’s 12th largest public school system in Dallas, was a pretty fair baseball player in his day and also coached high school football in Texas for eight years.
“In Texas, we know a thing or two about football. There are two sports in Texas: football and spring football,” Hinojosa said, drawing a hearty laugh from the highly partisan but genuinely amused crowd.
“I’m looking forward to attending the games,” he continued, “ but I promise you: even though I’m from Texas, I’m not going to be a Jerry Jones, and you won’t find me on the sidelines,” he added, referring to the domineering, meddlesome owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
For sure, Cobb’s new school leader knows how to break the ice.
MAC THOMPSON, 10, of Marietta won the Atlanta U.S. Kids Golf Tour Player of the Year Award. Then, following the lead of Tiger Woods, Mac decided last week to fire his caddie — dad Jud Thompson — and hire a more experienced professional, Whit Smith, also from Marietta. Whit helped Mac shoot his two lowest scores of the year — a 40 and a 43 — getting the job done in a very competitive field and winning first place by only 3 points. Now he is on his way to Pinehurst, N.C., to play in the World Golf Championship Aug. 4- 6.