Cobb County’s $5 Million Dollar Chairwoman
When Lisa Cupid ran for chair of Cobb County in 2020, she marketed herself to voters as the person ‘better skilled and more experienced’ to make tough choices and the right decisions when it came to governing Cobb County.
Fast forward to now, 2023, and many in the community are asking “how much skills and training does it take to outsource your job to someone else and pay them $5 million dollars to do it?”
That’s the question on the lips of many after Cupid and the board approved a spending list created for it by Deloitte. Cobb County government was allocated $147 million from the federal government in ARPA funding. Cupid proceeded to allocate $5 million of the funds to pay the consulting firm to produce a report that could have easily been produced by the highly skilled, highly trained, and highly paid department heads and staff within the county.
Many within these arenas could have done the same job that Deloitte did (operating within the confines of the County budget). The work performed equated to pointing to existing needs and recommending an allocation of funding to these needs. Members of the community are still waiting to see what $5 million gets us as they say there was no rocket science involved or brain surgery needed to come up with that list. So why pay someone else to do your job?
Insiders in Cobb County say Cupid intentionally directed this task away from the county manager and others because she wanted to have total control over the process with consultants responsive to her only. Others say this was a quid pro quo, pointing to Cupid receiving free consulting services when she first took over as chair, including training on how to do her job as chair.
On Cobb County’s own website, it describes the work of the consultant it paid $5 million dollars saying:
Cobb County is working with Deloitte Consulting to meet with community groups and stakeholders to get a picture of how the county feels these funds should best be used.
Members of the community say this was reckless spending on the part of the Chair and poor leadership as many entities within Cobb are struggling to stay afloat – they could have surely benefited from that $5 million dollar payday the consultant received. The irony is not lost on many who are watching this play out. As questions are raised as to how the new city will pay for its elections, some point to the $5 million or a small portion of it that could have benefited Mableton in this regard. They also point to an increased allocation to public health in South Cobb as another better use of the funds as well as a new building to replace the Lions Club, a community center which has seen better days.
With a new election cycle next year, many say Cupid will have to answer that question more frequently. As chair, Cupid has made it known to the staff of the county that
her decisions are not to be questioned. She may feel that she does not have to explain her decisions now, but she will as voters will hold her accountable for this $5 million dollar consultant boondoggle and more.
As one tipster put it, “There is no special skill set needed when you direct your work to someone else.”