Deserving of an award?
The time was last week, and the location was the Cobb County Chamber’s Marquee Monday, where chamber leadership presented Cobb Chair Lisa Cupid with its annual Woman of Distinction Award.
Normally, this would be a moment to celebrate, but for many across Cobb, they are left scratching their heads and wondering what in the world Cupid has done during her eight years on the commission, or her nine months as Chair of the county, that would support her being selected and presented with such a distinction from the Cobb Chamber.
They point to the town hall meeting where Cupid threatened attendees with Law enforcement, along with the callous and disrespectful comments Cupid made to women and families a few weeks ago who came before the commission to advocate for rental assistance. They also point to the period when Cupid was Commissioner for District 4 and her refusal to lead the efforts to get Magnolia Crossing developed after having led the efforts to get the apartment community torn down. We recall that Community advocates from all directions lobbied Cupid on this issue, but she showed no leadership or concern, telling advocates that “there was little she could do.” Magnolia Crossing continues to be a 50-acre hole in the ground in our community that has not seen any development activity since it was torn down in 2015.
These community voices differ greatly with the Chamber and some are left wondering if this is a ‘make-up gift’ following Cupid’s tongue lashing after chamber leadership challenged her on an ill-fated vote Cupid championed that negatively impacts Dobbins.
Some say that being the first African American woman to chair Cobb County is a milestone, but should not be the qualifier for this award especially since Cupid has displayed attributes and temperament that this award could not condone. Senior readers of SPOTLIGHT say, “You have to walk the walk and talk the talk, and Cupid is not doing that.”
Yvonne Byars, senior director at MUST Ministries and chairwoman of the chamber’s Cobb Executive Women program made the presentation to Cupid saying, “Chairwoman Cupid has been known as a strong advocate for the fair treatment of all Cobb residents and stakeholders, regardless of their demographic, geographic or economic standing.” Must Ministries is one of five non-profit organizations that Cupid selected to distribute federal funding to renters and homeowners who were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many citizens in Cobb we spoke to strongly disagreed with Byars, saying you only need to look at the headlines from the past nine months to see that Cupid is not an advocate for fair treatment of citizens and does not support citizen engagement with their government. Instead, they suggested that Cupid should have been presented with the ‘Mistreated of Citizens’ Award and pointed to several missteps since Cupid was sworn into office.
Also in the backdrop for Cupid is a land deal that she championed for her campaign supporter and land wheeler dealer, Attorney Garvis Sams, which placed Cobb’s economic engine of Dobbins Air Reserve Base and Lockheed Marietta in jeopardy.
Also worth mentioning is the recently revealed attempted land sale of Cobb County property near Dobbins to a group that involves unknown players. Cobb County government, a former Cobb Chair and County Manager, and members of the federal government are all intertwined in this mystery. All have been lobbying the federal government agencies in one form or another to change the stipulation on property that Cobb acquired years ago from the federal government.Those involved have been allegedly trying to get the land sold to a clandestine group. This mystery deal, if consummated, would turn into million-dollar bonanzas for all involved, including those pushing this through. “Unnamed lawyers and real estate managers’ are also allegedly waiting in the wings to collect a big payday.
Chair Lisa Cupid has been mum and has yet to come forward to explain or condemn this secret deal to the citizens of Cobb County who are entitled to accountability from her. Cupid has yet to demand an investigation or demand accountability for the citizens of Cobb.
Yet, when the All-Star Baseball game was canceled in Cobb, Cupid demanded a meeting with Major League Baseball officials. After she was rebuffed, her condemnation of the actions being taken by MLB and the damage to Cobb’s businesses were well known as she showed up on every media outlet. Where is Cupid’s leadership on this secret land deal?
Bringing up the rear is Cupid’s efforts to eliminate public speaking during the commission meetings. Tired of listening to the public, Cupid pushed to have the time reduced and moved public speaking to the end of the commission meeting, after votes are taken on issues of concern to the public. This is how Cupid truly feels about community engagement with their government. Public outcry and her inability to wrangle 4 out of 5 votes needed to pass this restriction forced Cupid to remove it from the agenda. Community advocates are communicating across all sectors as they await this issue being placed back on the commission agenda by Cupid for approval. Talk behind the scenes suggest that Cupid is still trying to reduce the time the public is allowed to speak.
Byars said quite a few things about Cupid including that she has been a “champion” for improved citizen education and engagement with government. Given the dustup between her and citizens over her attempted censorship of public speaking before commission meetings, we all know that this statement rings untrue.
The chamber award is presented each year to a Cobb woman who has demonstrated “exceptional leadership through professional endeavors, community involvement and social responsibility. Said Byars, “Chairwoman Cupid is a leader and innovator, a trailblazer, and an asset to Cobb.”
There are others in the community that believe Cupid should have declined this award because she has not done what she promised the voters of Cobb, nor has she exemplified the qualities stated for this Chamber award. Some say Cupid should return the award to the Chamber with a note that says more work needs to be done on her part before she can accept this award. Keep the discussion going on our Facebook page.