OPINION: The True Colors of the Canton City Council

These are the current issues facing the City of Canton. This is an introduction blog to a series of many,

EDITOR'S NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author of the post and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Patch.

I will say that Mr. [Councilman Bill] Bryan certainly does spend a great deal of time researching other communities and how they conduct their business. As an educated individual, this logic is not completely off base, but only to a degree, and, it does not apply all the time. Canton is a unique community and deserves unique approaches and attention. I would hope that we could take Mr. Bryan’s research, verify it, and then build upon it. Obviously throughout history people have learned from the mistakes of others.

Through Mr. Bryan’s research he has managed to practically dismantle efforts of numerous volunteers and City employees. These efforts and strides that were made were earned and fought for by the downtown merchants, volunteers, and employees of the City.

I have had the pleasure of working with the Main Street Program for three years now (one year on the board of directors). Believe it or not, we have made amazing changes in the downtown core with this program. When I first started, the farmers market was just getting heated up as well as other city events including First Friday. Ginger Garrard, Bill Grant, Farris Yawn, Wanda Roach, Pat Gold, Judy Bishop and many others led the charge to make these events successful. I am certain that the business owners in Canton would agree that their business increased during the First Friday events and many others. R&M Hoagie Shop, and other merchants began opening on First Friday to participate and reap the benefits of the increased traffic. Was it worth it to them? It obviously was, as they continued to participate in the events.

I know that everything is not about downtown. The City, as a whole, needs to succeed. About a year ago, I had a very wise man explain to me how a city works and why Main Street was vital to the community. “The city is like an apple, when the core rots, so does the rest. If we make the downtown the healthy core of the city, the rest will follow.” People want to have a sense of community and belonging. How better to be attached to them than a thriving historical downtown core? [Councilman] Glen Cummins relayed this idea to me and I think he is a very wise man. Proof of this philosophy can be seen in many of our surrounding cities including Dahlonega, Marietta, and Roswell.

More importantly, the councilmen have chosen to take away the Mayor’s power to appoint people to the Main Street Board and well as the Downtown Development Authority and other City of Canton committees. Is this the best option, the reinvention of the wheel? For example, has the City Council studied the by-laws of the National Main Street Program? Canton's Main Street by-laws are unique to Canton but follow Main Street Program guidelines. Our program is set up with representatives from other city committees plus four at large representatives. This structure is to conform to existing by-laws for our program. Also, the majority of the board members must attend Main Street Training and be certified (at a cost to the City). Where are these new board appointments coming from? Are they members of other committees? If they are not, the Canton Main Street Program will loose its certification and we will be back to square one.

I have a feeling that there is a deeper and darker force at play. For some reason, unknown to the public, our current city council (except for Glen Cummins) wants to do away with all of the Mayor’s authority. This authority would include the Mayor’s ability to have staff, appoint committee members, and have the authority to veto council actions.

The ‘Council of Five’ has decided that these committees are “stacked” with Mayor Hobgood supporters and he made the nomination to appoint them. Yet, they unanimously approved his nominations. They are tired of these hard working volunteers and other concerned members of the community showing up at council meetings and demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the council and direction of the city. Therefore, the best way to “get back” at them is to remove them from anything to do with the city’s business. However, these actions will not silence the voices but infuriate them. After all, every member of council is elected!

These are the petty issues we are dealing with as a City. The focus is not on development and improvement, but on useless power struggles. The City of Canton would be much better served with a council that is able to achieve movement without backroom deals and bickering. I would encourage everyone to view the council videos on www.canton-georgia.com. You will then see and understand the circus and gross display that has occured in recent meetings. . Is this the kind of council the City of Canton deserves and needs?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Change For Canton January 28, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Youngmom, it appears you are really clueless about the entire situation. Also, what someone does with their own money is non of our business. Gene is more than just the Mayor of Canton and makes his own money owning with how own business. You can do what you wish with your money..right? Who cares! Again, you know this information as you are one of the disgruntled Council of 5..Furthermore, Gene did not have any work for Ginger as she was no longer reporting to the Mayor...lack of work= layoff..the next council will straighten this mess out once the Council of 5 is permanently disbanded.
Change For Canton January 28, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Youngmom and Bill Bryan sure do post the same things: From the Tribune: BIll Bryan So we have a mayor with a $64,000 secretary who doesn't type, is not required to keep a time sheet, and whose position is proven to be completely redundant and unnecessary. Mayor Hobgood is so desperate to keep his "personal assistant" on the payroll that he hired Roy Barnes to threaten the council with personal liability lawsuits if we don't let him keep her. Is the Council supposed to just look the other way? The mayor is vigorously opposing responsible expansion of the Fire Department via Taxpayer approved bonds. Are we supposed to just give up or should we fight for what's right? In spite of a lack of leadership at the top, we do recognize the need for a coherent economic development program and are working diligently towards that goal; in spite of the fact that the mayor stubbornly wants to keep "his" Main Street Director under his thumb contrary to practices in ALL other Main St. programs statewide. If you want to discover the source of the dysfunction, start with a close look at the top. Youngmom..please get real.
youngmom January 28, 2013 at 09:29 PM
so i'm not the only one reading the tribune. you should listen to bryan more. he deals in fact and truth. you guys deal in emotional and irrelevant hogwash from hobgood. and it's amusing seeing you trying to figure out my identity. why it that so important to you? what about the questions i asked? where are your answers?
Change For Canton January 29, 2013 at 02:19 PM
We do not need to figure out your identity as we already know it. Your questions are not relevant. The business community has lost confidence in our City leadership...the citizens have lost confidence in our City leadership...it is a losing game all around. I guess we have to wait till November to change the current dismal fate of canton. So sad....
Karen Jackson January 29, 2013 at 03:27 PM
If "youngmom" is a councilman it would not be a shock to me. This kind of behavior is exactly why we are forming a committee in Laurel Canyon to stop these out of control men and well as the fire referendum. I have invested most of my retirement in this community and I am just sick.
Embarrassed January 29, 2013 at 04:20 PM
I am just embarrassed to call Canton my home. This is worse than a bunch of elementary school kids. Sounds like the City of Canton just needs to clean house and start completely over! Remember...you can't fix stupid, but you can vote them out of office!
youngmom January 30, 2013 at 10:43 AM
so did you catch the ledger yet today? how about that baby of a mayor! if i can't have ginger then nobody can! "embarrassed" you ought to be embarrassed......... for re-electing that guy. good thing the grownups on the council are finally taking charge.
Change For Canton January 30, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Your views as evidenced in your comments in the Tribune are conflicting? http://cherokeetribune.com/view/full_story/21484519/article-Leaders-need-to-get-OK-from-taxpayers-to-add-debt?instance=home_viewed I do not think we can take this conversation seriously any longer.
Change For Canton January 30, 2013 at 07:31 PM
This one as well youngmom....http://www.cherokeetribune.com/view/full_story/21559513/article-Canton-mayor-vetoes-budget-amendment?instance=home_viewed
Change For Canton January 30, 2013 at 07:33 PM
We will be voting Bryan, Beresford, and Rush out. This should clear up a good bit of the mess as they seem to be the problem.
Jay Saro January 30, 2013 at 09:17 PM
One thing I've always said is the "will of the people will prevail." Mayor Hobgood is widely popular in the city and folks overwhelmingly support him, including his vision. The "grown ups" on the council have failed to realize that personal attacks, belittling constituents, and tyrannistic behavior do nothing more than build distrust and anger in the electorate. The continued actions of the three council members up for re-election this year will mostly be reworked and a new clear vision will prevail with three new refreshed council members.
Jeff Brown January 30, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Very well said Jay. It basically comes down to this: There is no need to argue now and these polices can be easily reversed once a new council, that has a vision, is in place.
joanb January 31, 2013 at 02:43 PM
You guys act like you have it all figured out. You seem to think these 3 councilmen are getting voted out at the end of this year. You have no idea! You few King Gene supporters aren't the only ones in this wonderful city. I can't believe you are so blinded by him. As long as you are doing what he wants and everything's going his way it's fine. But it you slip and fall and he thinks you're against him you're gone and he finds someone else. We have wonderful guys in this council that care about the well-being of this city. Some are so passionate about the well-being and they get so frustrated having to deal with people like you guys and the mayor who only care about what you want. But they are men of their words and keep doing what they were elected to do and swore to do which is do the best they can with our city. It's sad you can't think for yourself. Instead of complaining about what these men are doing you need to get out there and do what you can yourself to make this a better place! You would probably feel better knowing you made a contribution to this city! But nothing will change as long as you keep being under the King Gene spell. Grow up and be real men and think for yourself for a change. The good Lord above does not allow people like you all to do people like you do and get away with it. You eventually reap what you sow! Get out there today and so what you can do. Not just for yourself but for others! Have a great day!
Change For Canton January 31, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Ahh, another new profile name..not valid..again. Yes, we will reap what we sow...making the city a better place by getting rid of this council. The goal is to engage as many people as possible so that they understand how crooked this administration is. Most of us commenting here already "get out and make a difference". We have made ALL the difference without any buy-in from our city. Yes, we will replace three in November. So Joanb..do your research before shouting out. Thanks.
Jennifer Dunn January 31, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Okay, I just can't let this hypocrisy stand. The author of this article, Jeff Brown is the President of the Cherokee County Historical Society and on the board of our Main Street Program and an avid volunteer who I see EVERYWHERE at every Canton event. The other people mentioned favorably in his article are the same. Board members, volunteers, and civic leaders. Who are you, anonymous "joanb"? Have I seen you out and about "helping" Canton? You've made yourself look like a fool and a hypocrite. To correct that, I invite you to do one good thing for your city. Volunteer at an event. Raise money for a good cause. Heaven knowns Canton has a high homeless Guatemalan population and there are children that need food, clothing and shelter. I challenge YOU to do something worthwhile. Nobody likes a hypocrite.
Karen Jackson January 31, 2013 at 03:37 PM
JoanB, I understand what you are trying to say however, you are misinformed. Please do your own research and you will see that the Mayor is not the issue. In fact, we could have a different Mayor and this council would still be dysfunctional. Nothing will change until we vote down the fire referendum and vote these men out in November. These are the simple facts. I have been to council meetings where the people that were out there making a change speak and get ignored by these men. They only seem to hear what they want and if they do not agree, you are simply ignored. Their behavior has been so awful that it has been picked up by news channels in Atlanta. As a person with a vested interest in this city, this is not the kind of publicity that we need or deserve.
John Galt January 31, 2013 at 08:04 PM
If you are really interested in stopping the Fire referendum with some other people, please contact me at johngalt@tds.net. There are lots of other people that see no need for this to pass
Change For Canton February 01, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Glad to see you keep up with stuff as much as you can Mr. Rush!
Jeff Brown February 01, 2013 at 08:45 PM
John, I would love for you to post some details as to why the referendum is the wrong route. So far, I am leaning toward a no vote myself. Thanks.
youngmom February 05, 2013 at 09:30 AM
you guys should quit worrying about who is who and just stick to the facts. and heres a few to ponder. when the stormwater board tried to kill the new park and eliminate the stormwater fees i started doing some digging to find their real motivations. you try to take away my kid's park and you got a fight on your hands! fact check these board members; it's all out there and not too hard to find. spears owns gas stations and stores - big stormwaater fee payers - and is hobgood's lifelong buddy. kent owns gas stations, stores, laundromats, and shopping strips - big stormwater fee payers. kent was a land dealer and builder in the 1980's, while holding a "full time" govt. job in the soils mamagement office when hobgood was king of the county - real cozy eh? fincher's brother and sister-in-law own lots of rental houses, buildings, and shopping centers, and that hole on main st. where the building burned - big stormwater fee payers. shelnutt retired from the school district, the single biggest stormwater fee payer in town. key works for a big company that owns dozens of houses in canton - big stormwater fee payers. and that's just the first committee i looked at! what other backroom deals has hobgood cooked up with his cronies on these other committees? change, etowah, jennifer, jeff&bill, jay et. al. you guys are being conned and played for fools.wake up!
Change For Canton February 05, 2013 at 08:55 PM
Bill Bryan.. please post as your real name.
Change For Canton February 05, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Also, we are looking forward to your replacement Mr. Bryan.
Ben February 06, 2013 at 02:02 AM
That's laughable young mom. I support the park...the one the county had agreed to build in Canton at no cost to the tax payers of Canton. The council chose to add a bridge and a playground to the original plan, and therefore the city had to pony up over $400K for these optional, additional cost, items. Being that the council did not want use money from the general, splost, or park funds (which makes too much sense), they instead had to find a way to justify using stormwater funds. So as our local politicians do, they came up with an ethically challenged plan that made it "legal." As anyone with a brain knows that bridges and playgrounds don't clean stormwater. I want elected officials that treat the money citizen's hard earned money as if it were their own, and use it for what they tell us they are using it for. Not shuffling it around from account to account whenever they see fit. The truth is, Canton has the 3rd highest stormwater fees in the state. Our fund has operated with a surplus of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the last four years (at least). On behalf of the board, I suggested to council a 25% decrease in the tax, to coincide with a reduced budget of 35%. But the council declined. Now that's public service! Tax more than you need...then find somewhere to spend it. FAST! B/c anyone paying attention might bring it up....
Jeff Brown February 06, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Excellent response Ben. If the fees that have been collected has resulted in this much excess, it seems like everyone would want their rate to decrease. Everyone that owns property pays this fee. A decrease would benefit all property owners. The suggestions made by "youngmom" are laughable, especially the implications about Jane Shellnut. How could a retired Media Specialist have anything to do with the school system and stormwater fees? Anyway, the stormwater fund should not be City Council's personal piggy-bank.
youngmom February 07, 2013 at 06:17 PM
so you guys have had three days to fact check the facts i shared in the last post. nothing meaningful from you because you know i'm right. mr. key we all saw your song & dance in a previous council meeting where you were totally discredited - just watch the video. mr. brown your smoke screen is worthless. shelnutt receives a nice and well earned income from the ccsd, the biggest stormwater payer in town. duh! of course she will defend the source of her income. she ought to be quite angry at hobgood for putting her in such an awkward position of liability. as i said the stormwater minions are only the first to be looked at. it's obvious that the rest of you on this blog are main street board or their minions. the whole lot of you are nothing more than the same old same old - lapping up hobgood's hogwash and keeping alive the good old boy network. only re-made into a fake hip cool new generation of honey boo booers. business as usual......
Ben February 08, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Totally discredited? By whom? The citizens of Canton know fiscal irresponsibility when they see it. And I for one am sick of it. fyi... stormwater fees are paid by water bill payers. So the tenants in the rental houses my company manages pay the rain tax bill, not my company. The only bill i pay is my own, which is 35% too high. If you want to attack me, at least have the guts to reveal your true identity. Using terms like "Lapping up hobgood's hogwash" makes it pretty obvious you are long since "young"...
Canton Forward February 09, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Maybe we ought to put the three council members up for re-election on the storm water board so they can be ignored and put the three stormwater members on the council so that proper decisions can be made.
youngmom February 11, 2013 at 03:29 PM
so interesting to see everyone's fixation on my identity while there is no interest at all in who the other anonymous posters on here are.......strange! anyway my original point of hobgood's rigged, stacked and hand picked stormwater committee stands firm and documented. also interesting to see how hobgood wants the main st. board to remain the same - stacked, rigged, and hand picked with his supporters; ditto the stormwater board! seriously guys how is this city ever going to move forward with the same old crowd on the committees? you want new blood on the council but the same old bunch on the committees? you guys sound like typical liberal double standard hypocrites. get real!
Change For Canton February 11, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Your point is only standing firm to youself and has not documented by anyone.."youngmom"...I looked over the board appointments from Hobgood and they all seem very fair. I am not sure what part could be "stacked"...and there are many new faces suggested on the boards...get over it!
Sandy McGrew March 01, 2013 at 04:29 AM
Karen, I hope you are planning to attend the town hall meeting next Monday, March 4 at 5:00 p.m. in the Laurel Canyon Golf Club. This is being organized by Mr. Huffman and Mr. Rush. I am eager to have questions answered and hear their logic. I hope to see you there. --- Sandy


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