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Gateway Markers Designs Were Meant For Public Vote

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Are Council Candidates Misrepresenting Facts on Gateway Markers?

Despite misinformation by some in our community that the Gateway Markers Designs were not meant to be shared and evaluated, with the residents of Johns Creek, we’ve uncovered the truth through FOIA documents and can affirm what we presented was factually correct.

Below are some of the highlights of the email chain, which began on September 27th, 2019. This confirms that the residents were to begin voting the following Monday.  Next, you will find some of the emails from Council Members that stopped this in its tracks. Why there is a need to spin a different story will become quite clear. (Bolding is for emphasis).

Email Chain Regarding Gateway Markers Design Voting

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Subject: Public Art Gateway Project ‐ Online Voting Preview

Good afternoon Honorable Mayor and City Council,

The JCCVB is excited to continue our community engagement of the Public Art Gateway Project by launching the online voting of three design concepts this coming Monday, September 30th.

Urban Catalyst Lab artist, William Massey, has gathered input from Johns Creek residents from three community engagement meetings, online feedback forms and the Taste of Johns Creek community event in order to develop these three design concepts. JCCVB has partnered with Johns Creek City Staff to develop an online voting platform for residents to weigh in and give feedback on the designs.

We invite you to view a preview of the designs and voting platform here. Voting will officially go live on Monday, September 30th and remain open 7-14 days, depending on the amount of feedback received within the first week. Please feel free to preview the link and designs, but please hold-off on sharing with the public until Monday, September 30th.

Once voting has closed, the final selection will be submitted to Public Art Board for review. Following the Public Art Board application process, JCCVB and the Public Art Board will present the proposed design to City Council at an upcoming Work Session. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you,

Shelby Marzen, TMP Executive Director Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau Phone 404.370.2044 | smarzen@johnscreekcvb.com johnscreekcvb.com #visitjohnscreek

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The designs we shared were the same designs referenced in the email above.

Ninety-one minutes or so after Mayor Bodker shared the email with the rest of the City Council, Council Member Jay Lin replied with the following email:

Chief Densmore,

I just had an opportunity to review the “Gateway Markers” designs. I am very concerned about these 3 designs to be released to the public on Sep 30th.

I will be the first one to admit that I am not qualified to judge the artistic merit of these designs, and I question the residents of Johns Creek will be reacted to these designs based on their artistic merit. Rather, I believe we are looking for designs that connect to the community and its spirit. And unfortunately, I don’t see a trace of illustrations of our community in those designs.

Very much like “The District” a few years ago, when we released multiple concepts and asked residents to “Choose”, the assumption is: “ These are the options” that have been approved and endorsed by the elected officials. I don’t want to see us struggling with communications after the fact again.

I’d like to express that I believe we should have Gateway Markers, but what’s missing is a symbol of representation and connection.

Jay

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Council Member Bradberry followed up with the following:

Thanks, Jay. You make very reasonable points. Whether an individual Council member is for the markers or not, these designs will likely be met with widespread derision inside and possibly outside our city. Indeed, if you are for Gateway Markers, these designs probably set that effort back a long way. I do not want to see the CVB, the Staff, the Council, or the community at large embarrassed. I also don’t want the residents to again sense that their city is out of touch with them and that they will need to mount a campaign to fight against one of these options becoming a reality. Chief, speaking as one Council member who will hopefully be joined by others like Jay, please do what you can to get this process redirected on a more constructive path. In my opinion, these designs should not be released to the public on Monday for the good of all involved.

Thank you.

j

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By 4:49 P.M. on Friday, the Gateway Markers Designs and voting WERE PULLED:

Hi all,

Due to feedback we’ve received from some members of City Council and our JCCVB Board, we will be delaying the public voting of the three Gateway artwork designs. I will let you know as soon as possible an updated launch day. Thank you for being flexible!

Best, Shelby Marzen, TMP

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Why the need to spin that the Gateway Marker designs were NOT MEANT to be seen by the Public?  We think you know the answer to that question…

Have you been told anything that contradicts what is stated above? We encourage you to go back to the source and ask why?

Lastly, CVB has recommendations for FY2020 on the City Council work session agenda for Monday night Oct, 21. CVB recommends the City Council authorize, $55,000 for a second gateway marker project. “The CVB hopes to continue to work with artist William Massey”.

Source: City of Johns Creek

Author’s Note:
1)  Who suggested that they spin it as not being the drawings that were to be voted on?
2)  Who on the Council knew that is what they were doing?
3)  Did these Council Members bother to object to the false narrative?
4)  Did Council Members correct anyone when they discussed this issue with residents?
If you conversed with any Council Member and they responded to you with support of the false narrative about Gateway Markers, we want to hear from you.  Honesty and transparency are critical to trusting our local government.  If you choose, we will keep your name anonymous, but we would like to know who has participated in covering up what really has transpired with the Gateway Markers.
Send your email to: info@johnscreekpost.com

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13 thoughts on “Gateway Markers Designs Were Meant For Public Vote”

  1. Christine Austin

    This is most interesting! I was at a candidate forum last night where Judy LaFave told a very different story. As I recall, she was very concerned that the images had been made public because they were never intended to be released. She was afraid that this would confuse people. She said that these images represented the artist’s favorites and not the CVB’s choices. But that is not supported by the fact that the CVB fully intended these images to be put to a vote.

    This raises so many questions. First, why is Candidate LaFave telling a story that contradicts these facts — is she lying or repeating information that she hasn’t verified? If it is the latter, who is her source? Second, why does Ms. LaFave think that Johns Creek residents would be confused by seeing these images? Does she really think that we are not capable of sorting through information and making our own judgments — does she believe us to be incompetent? Third, regardless of the intentions of the CVB, why would Ms. LaFave not be in support of full transparency? Shouldn’t the entire process, including drafts, be public? I don’t understand the need for secrecy.

  2. Christine,
    The reason it was necessary to post this piece was because not one of the people that were spreading falsely that the drawings were not meant to be made public contacted me and asked where my information came from.

    I’ve also edited the story because I know many people were told a similar story and we’d like to know who told them the fictional story. The drawings were only withdrawn AFTER the negative reaction from Council Members. For people that might believe my FOIA request was a fraud, I encourage you to do your own. You will get the same info I have received.

    It is the right of the Public to know the truth.
    EJ

  3. As a Johns Creek resident I’m disappointed that we, the community, were not given the opportunity to vote on the three gateway sculpture ideas. I want to feel like a community that is guided by it’s city council but not left out of decisions like this. For what it’s worth, I like the “circle” design.

  4. We do have the chance to vote on the modified designs. Sadly, we have already spent $40,000 on these renditions! Let’s hope we don’t throw any more money at this disaster.

    1. Christine Austin

      The above comment was me. I did not mean for it to be anonymous. That was a mistake. I will never post anonymously — at least not intentionally. I wonder if any of the other anonymous comments are because of the same error.

  5. There are several issues involving public trust and fiscal responsibility in the current election cycle.

    Why are we spending $40,000 for just one artist and his vision of what the gateway markers should look like? Was his submission worth $40,000?
    — Opinion: Hell No. I wouldn’t pay $.01 for his vision. Do we not have other artists?

    Why are we spending money on gateway markers? Can’t it be for something else that promotes tourism? What is wrong with signs that simply say “Welcome to Johns Creek.” ???
    — Opinion: I don’t think this will promote tourism. These suggestions are awful. I hate to see taxpayer funds wasted like this.

    So, was Judy lying about this in the debate at Medlock Bridge or repeating a lie she was told by someone else? She told us that CVB never intended for the images to be released, but it is obvious from the email chain that CVB wanted to make these designs public, but it was nixed by the council after they saw the horrible designs.

    What is the source of the bad info? Either way, the lie was perpetuated and it seems coordinated. It is easy to see why officals would be in CYA mode after spending 40k on this project.

    — Opinion: I think that Judy is probably being told this lie from the Mayor’s office but didn’t do her research to correct it or confirm it. Reason #986 NOT to Vote for Judy.

    1. Christine Austin

      Does it matter whether Judy was knowingly lying or simply repeating what she was told without bothering to verify it? Either way, the result is the same. She was spreading false information. It was either outright deceit or at best it was irresponsible. Perhaps Judy is such a poor judge of character that she is unaware of how she is being manipulated. Perhaps she is in on it. Either way, she is not someone who we want making decisions for the City.

  6. John,
    Reason #1 why it would be great if you did just a little research!! Her comment came out of the Medlock Bridge Candidate Forum where she stated “she attended a public CVB meeting” and the information came from there. This BIG mystery has been solved!!! Please pay the man on your way out!!

    1. We did do research. We actually provided to you the original communications with the City Council from the CVB on the Gateway Markers.

      It was the candidate who should have done their research and contacted us to ask us our source before repeating information that was factually incorrect.

      It now appears that you are stating that the CVB intentionally misled people including candidates, who attended a Public CVB meeting.

      How do you feel about that? Does it concern you in the least as to whether or not candidates and groups spending taxpayer dollars are telling the truth, or telling us what they want us to hear?

      Transparency is important. The CVB wanted to keep the information about the Gateway Markers out of the Public’s eyes after the reactions from multiple council members.

      The Council Members represent the residents. They should not be keeping secrets from the residents. Nor should they help any agency look better at the expense of the Public. That is not their job nor is it the way to get better performance out of any agency on behalf of the Public.

      1. Johns Creek Voter

        After reading the disclosures for the mayor’s favored candidates and this new story today, it seems you could just pay the developers and Urban Catalyst Labs among others!!! I think an ethics investigation is in order. Bodker can deny it all he wants, but I am not buying it! He has been selling us out for a long time now!

  7. EJMOOSA,

    Really!! I am addressing a totally different issue then your comment. I did do some research, from the Medlock Bridge Forum (that YOU posted) and at the 1 hour 15 minute mark is all the transparency you need. Someone was asked a question and answered it with the information they had and where they got if from (where is the big cover-up?)

    I was addressing a specific comment by John about where a candidate got their information…PERIOD. All the other Blah, Blah, Blah you put in, is just that. If you want to hold anyone to that level of “accountability” YOU must be an amazing person!

    1. Someone vying to be a council member should be held to a high level of accountability. If anyone has information that they have not confirmed themselves, they should verify it.

      You may not be aware but I was also on the board of the JCCA and my attention to detail are known by many. I also have been challenged by the City of Johns Creek on numerous occasions and when asked where the data comes from, it was either theirs or a source that they themselves cited when they needed it.

      If we cannot agree on the facts, it becomes difficult to discuss any topic.

      And I will accept your last comment as a compliment. We should expect a high level of accountability from all of our elected officials. Being willing to accept less than that never results is a good outcome.

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