by: Mike Petchenik Updated:JOHNS CREEK, Ga. —
The Mayor of Johns Creek is defending himself against the city council’s accusation he violated city ethics ordinance and charter, and he’s questioning whether the investigation is politically motivated.
Monday night, the city council voted 5-0 to hire outside counsel to investigate Mayor Mike Bodker.
In an e-mailed statement, Councilman Randall Johnson said:
“This action follows several reprimands of Mayor Bodker about certain questionable actions he’s taken over the last several years. Unfortunately, that approach didn’t work and now the Council is left with no other choice but to turn to the investigative process as allowed under the City’s charter. The City charter specifically states that the mayor represents the will of the Council. However, there have been allegations that he’s repeatedly involved himself in actions and situations that were outside the will of Council.”
Bodker told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik he’s not surprised by the council’s decision, but he’s disappointed.
“There’s been this tension for a while,” he said. “I think the only losers in this situation are the citizens of Johns Creek. It’s never good to have these kinds of battles publicly.”
Bodker said those tensions peaked recently over his support of a project the council didn’t support, a proposal to turn an aging bridge at Rogers Bridge Park between Johns Creek and the city of Duluth into a pedestrian walkway.
Bodker said the council initially voted against spending roughly $500,000 on the project, then voted a second time to remove the project completely from consideration. Bodker said he supported the first vote because the city had more important projects to tackle at the time, but he didn’t support removing the project completely.
“I know the citizens of Johns Creek want that high quality of life,” he said. “ The only way to have that high quality of life is to have balanced things.”
Bodker told Petchenik he suggested to incoming council member Brad Raffensperger that he might want to attend a public meeting about the bridge in Duluth.
“I said to him that there was new information they wanted to share on the other side of the issue, the Gwinnett side of the issue, and that if he wanted to look at it, and look at it objectively, he was welcomed to,” said Bodker.
Bodker said Raffensperger didn’t attend the meeting, and told council members about Bodker’s suggestion. He said that set off a firestorm and he was publicly chastised at a council meeting over it. Bodker maintains that he never told Raffensberger to speak against how the council had previously voted.
“Going to a meeting is very different than at the meeting, saying the city will do x, y, and z,” he said. “I have a responsibility as an elected official to do everything I can to get as much information about every situation that I can.”
Petchenik left a message for Raffensberger, but had not heard back as of Wednesday afternoon. City spokeswoman Rosemary Taylor told Petchenik none of the council members who voted for the investigation would be speaking to the media, even though Johnson granted an interview to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Attorney Bob Wilson told Petchenik his firm would be charging Johns Creek $185 an hour to conduct the investigation, and that he hoped to have it completed by August.
“I think it’s disappointing,” said Bodker. “I think it’s one where I’d rather see everyone get in a room and try to talk it out then to sit there and spend a ton of money.”
Bodker said he believes the inquiry could be politically motivated because he’s up for re-election this November.