EXCLUSIVE: Atlanta Mayor apologizes to Cobb for disparaging Braves email

9:53 PM, Dec 20, 2013   |    comments
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  • Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
  • Braves email quote from Atlanta Deputy COO Hans Utz (Utz photo courtesy Buckhead View)
  • Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs)
  • Drawings of new Cobb County Atlanta Braves stadium

ATLANTA - In an exclusive interview with 11Alive's Catie Beck on Friday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed apologized to Cobb County for some nasty remarks one of his top officials made in an internal email about the Atlanta Braves' move to Cobb.

"I just regret very much that a member of my team thought that it was appropriate to make disparaging comments about people that I respect, value and care about and that gentleman has been suspended," Reed said.

He was talking about the city's Deputy Chief Operating Officer Hans Utz.

Utz was suspended for 3 days without pay this week for comments he made in an internal email discussing last month's surprise announcement that the Braves would build a new stadium in Cobb.

"They are not going to call themselves the Cobb Crackers or the Smyrna (expletive deleted)," Utz wrote.

His email was one of hundreds of internal Atlanta city emails obtained by 11 Alive on Thursday.

Cobb County Commissioners, who approved the deal in a 4-1 vote last month, took the high road, issuing a brief statement through county spokesman Robert Quigley.

"We look forward to the Braves' move to Cobb and value our relationship with Atlanta. Our focus remains on getting the stadium open by Spring 2017 and we look forward to being part of the region's continued success," the statement said.

But some Cobb citizens we spoke with on the Marietta square Friday weren't so understanding.

"I think it's absolutely disgusting and no public official should be able to say something like that, even if it's in an internal email," said Rachel Callaghan.

"Not only to have those thoughts, but then to put them in an email, I really question the intelligence level of somebody doing something like that," said Jennifer Wilkes.

"While you may or may not agree with the decision to move the Braves to Cobb County, I don't think it serves anyone any good to start the name calling and disparaging other counties," said Ed Miller.

State Representative Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), who helped set up the Braves deal with Cobb, told 11 Alive he thinks Utz should be fired.

Cobb residents we spoke with differed over whether that was necessary.

"I don't think he should be fired over it, but maybe a few days just to show that you shouldn't say things like that," said David Brewster.

"Unfortunately, we have characters that should be out of politics and I think this gentleman should be one of them," said Tony Zaboli.

In his exclusive interview with 11Alive, Mayor Reed said the majority of the internal emails proved that he was telling the truth the whole time about the city's unsuccessful negotiations to keep the Braves and that he didn't know about the Cobb County offer before the fall election.

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