In response to an ethics complaint filed by Cobb County resident Tom Cheek, Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee issued a formal apology today about how the deal to bring the Atlanta Braves to Cobb was handled. The apology can in the form of a letter to Cobb residents and the other county commissioners that was made public by the Marietta Daily Journal.
After noting that much of the original negotiations over the Braves move from downtown Atlanta was conducted confidentially due to the requirements of the baseball club, Lee said that decisions were made based on the best interests of the county and the Braves. From the letter:
[W]e made decisions as best we thought given the limitations and constraints we faced. Nonetheless, I am sure there are things I could have handled differently, communicated more clearly, and could have done better to give our citizens deeper confidence in this game changing economic development opportunity for our community.
Throughout this entire process I worked to negotiate the best agreement I could achieve for Cobb. With this and any other economic development opportunities, I am always mindful that the final say on any agreement is the Board of Commissioners. As the Chairman and the only one elected countywide, I believe it is my duty to work vigorously to seek economic development opportunities and jobs for Cobb County and present any good proposal to the Commission when something is real and ready.
In hindsight, I realize it would have been helpful to provide more information at the time of the public announcement about the private phase of the discussions before the deal was made public. For example, I could have provided a written summary to Commissioners and the public regarding the timeline and process of my discussions with the Braves. To the extent I could have done things differently and better communicated our actions, I sincerely apologize.
In addition to a direct apology to Cheek, Lee is also proposing a review of the county’s economic development processes and practices to ensure they are up to date, based on the standards of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.