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Johns Creek mayor pledges to be reformer if named to Fulton Development Authority board

Mike Bodker, the mayor of Johns Creek and a nominee to the board of the Development Authority of Fulton County, as seen in a campaign photo on his Facebook page.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker is pledging to be a reformer of the scandal-plagued Development Authority of Fulton County if his nomination to a seat on its board is approved by county commissioners July 14.

“I believe in the mission of the DAFC and know that the mission can be accomplished with a board that is committed to good governance,” he said.

Mike Bodker, the mayor of Johns Creek and a nominee to the board of the Development Authority of Fulton County, as seen in a campaign photo on his Facebook page.

Meanwhile, a DAFC critic who sparked the scandal has started an online petition focusing attention on another board member nomination pending from Board of Commissioners Chairman Robb Pitts. The petition calls for Pitts to fill the seat with a reformer.

Bodker has been nominated by Commissioner Liz Hausmann to replace Steve Broadbent, a former Johns Creek City Council member, who is still serving in a term that expired in May, shortly before the scandal broke. Hausmann did not respond to a comment request.

“I was asked to consider joining the DAFC to help bring about the necessary reform to the policies, process and procedures that have led to the issues it has faced recently,” Bodker said in an email. “… It is my understanding that those who have been involved in the concerning transactions that have recently been brought to light are no longer associated with the organization and that the Fulton Commission is striving to bring new people to the board who will right the ship. I committed to help with that reform if appointed to the board.”

Bodker was the first and still only mayor of Johns Creek, a North Fulton city that incorporated in 2006, and has said he will not run for reelection this year. He is a partner in NexDimension Technology Solutions, a business planning company based in Norcross. According to the company website, he was a certified public accountant, but state records show his license as lapsed. He also is a former president of the Georgia Municipal Association and has served on the board of the Atlanta Regional Commission and North Fulton associations of cities and mayors.

Bodker is also facing a misdemeanor criminal charge. In March 2020, Bodker was arrested by Johns Creek police and accused of simple battery following a domestic dispute. According to media reports at the time, Bodker is accused of grabbing his wife during an altercation about her filming him during an exchange of their child while they were in the midst of a divorce. Bodker calls the case a “personal matter” that has yet to go to court and will not be tried in “the court of public opinion.”

“As to your question regarding the charge I have yet to defend myself against, you may remember that in this country we are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Bodker said. “I will eventually have my opportunity to present the facts and prove what I know to be true, which is my innocence.”

At the same July 14 BOC meeting where Bodker’s nomination will be heard, the agenda also includes two pieces of DAFC reform legislation filed by Commission Lee Morris. And Marty Turpeau, the DAFC’s board chair and interim executive director, is expected to appear before the BOC that day.

The DAFC’s major power is to grant tax abatements to real estate projects by issuing tax-exempt bonds and collecting fees from the deals. The DAFC is in the midst of a scandal over hundreds of thousands of dollars in per diem payments made to some of the volunteer board members for work as basic as signing documents, which forced former chairman Bob Shaw to leave the board.

Julian Bene. Credit: File/Maggie Lee

The scandal emerged when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on documents obtained by Julian Bene, a longtime DAFC critic who is among a group of residents challenging the authority’s tax breaks in court. Bene said he knows nothing about Bodker, but is “not optimistic” due to Hausmann’s previous support for tax abatements.

Bene said he is instead focused on the pending pick by Pitts. The DAFC board seat that Pitts gets to nominate is held by Sam Bacote, who is still serving in a term that expired in May. Pitts has yet to decide whether to renominate Bacote or someone else and has said he wants to see how the scandal plays out.

Bacote, who serves as DAFC’s treasurer, has positioned himself as among the board members taking self-reform actions. However, he also was an example of concerns about a new DAFC practice of allowing board members to propose grants to local organizations, which Bene previously said could create conflicts of interest. Bacote proposed giving $25,000 to two groups in Atlanta neighborhoods where he is simultaneously running for a City Council seat.

“The real question is what Chairman Pitts is going to do with his slot, which could be the tipping point,” said Bene. “Appoint a reformer or leave the old guard majority in place on DAFC’s board?”

To that end, Bene this week launched a petition at Change.org calling on Pitts “to appoint a reformer to his slot on the DAFC board without delay.” As of the evening of July 10, it had 69 signatures. Pitts was not immediately available for comment.

The board has had other membership shakeups besides Shaw’s forced removal. In a previously planned reform, representatives of the Atlanta and Fulton County public school systems took seats this year to have more direct input into tax breaks that can affect their budgets. For more about the board members and who appoints them, see our guide below.

–Board member guide by Maggie Lee

 

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