published Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Baker says ‘no plans’ to run again for mayor

by Andy Johns


Qualifying is Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 for the mayor’s office and two council seats in Rossville. The election is Nov. 8.

Rossville Mayor Johnny Baker says he has “no plans to run for a fourth term,” but that could change if no one he feels is qualified to lead the city files to be on the ballot.

“All in all, I’m sad to leave this job,” he said Thursday. “I want the wheels to keep rolling the direction they’re rolling.”

Baker, 75, said his final decision will hinge on who qualifies to replace him.

“If no one runs for the job, I will not leave the job unattended,” he said.

Councilman Teddy Harris has said he is looking seriously at a mayoral campaign if Baker doesn’t run. Harris said Thursday he will run for office, but is trying to decide among the mayor’s office, his current council seat and the District 2 state House seat. Incumbent state Rep. Martin Scott, R-Rossville, has said he will not seek again.

Les Coffey, controversial owner of the Peerless Mill in Rossville, also is considering a mayoral run, promising to fight what he calls corruption among officials.

“At this point I’m serious about it,” Coffey said.

Coffey was named one of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office “Most Wanted” fugitives on June 2 on charges related to alleged tampering with the Rossville sewer system and felony escape. He had not been arrested as of Friday, but said he may eventually turn himself in.

Baker, who worked in sales and marketing at Coca-Cola for 41 years before retiring in 1999, said his health is not a factor — he mowed grass 3 feet high at two abandoned homes in the city Wednesday.

He said he just wants time to enjoy his retirement. Unlike Fort Oglethorpe or many other cities in the region, Rossville doesn’t have a city manager, so the mayor is relied on for many of the city’s day-to-day operations.

Baker said he is proud of the progress made in sprucing up the city’s downtown. He said department heads are working together in “total harmony” and the city is well-positioned to keep improving.

Baker drew heat for firing some city workers shortly after taking office in 2000 and for casting the deciding vote in support of a traffic camera ordinance in 2006. He turned against the cameras two months later after seeing more research.

But his most contentious time in office was selling the City Council on allowing the sale of packaged beer and wine in Rossville, a battle that took place in 2002 and 2003.

“That was very unpopular, and I guess I was the one headed straight to hellfire and damnation,” the mayor joked.

But seven years later, such sales bring in about $60,000 in taxes annually and have not caused any increase in drunken-driving arrests, the mayor said.

Baker said he’s lost some friends over the last decade because of politics, but he is proud of what he and other leaders accomplished.

“When I walk down the street, not everybody speaks to me,” he said. “When I worked for Coca-Cola, everybody spoke to me.”

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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lcoffey1 said...

Lets look at the facts of Bakers term here. In the 12 years he has been in office Rossville has seen zero improvement in living standards for the community. The water and sewer fees have constantly gone up. The police have managed to harras and criminalize the legitimate business activity of every business owner that he has had a dis-agreement with. The employee pension fund has managed to end up with a 400,000 dollar shortage. The city has been involved in numerous lawsuits and claims, which are going to go on long after Baker is not only gone, but more than likely after he has passed away. McFraland Ave was only partially paved and the handicap ramps were never completed. Rossville has more Title pawn, pawn shops, gambling halls, and other undesirable business entities per capita than about any other municipality in america. If you ask people about Rossville they say "when I go through Rossville I try to get in and out as fast a possible." The local police have a reputation of harrasing and framing people. The chief has been videoed stealing from the Peerless site yet, the mayor and city council think it is acceptable. Their detective, David L Scroggins, was run out of Ft.O in 2007 when Mayor Cobb won and he ended up in Rossville. All it takes is one look at his POST file and you will see he was suspended from his job for mis-conduct. He was demoted on another occasion and was placed on probabtion for mis-conduct on at least 3 occasions, each of them for 24 months. The GBI determined that in 2004 he assulated a woman in Ringgold. He has a history of stalking people, in particular teen age girls and women. Then, lets look at the fact that Teddy Harris, who says he may run, does not operate a business in Rossville and has been involved in every aspect of Bakers mis-conduct. All you have to do is look at the numerous videos obtained by the media of various crimes being commited by city officials and you will always see Teddy standing in the background. Of course what has he done to make things better for Rossville. He sits on the RDDA (Rossville Downtown Development Authority). That is the agency that spent 150,000 of city money on Roy's grill AND they awarded contracts on the Roy's deal to Ron Wade the director of the RDDA, Donna Cate a member of the RDDA, and other insiders. The Roy's grill deal was nothing more than handing out of government money in a corrupt way in order to get pay offs and kick backs. We will never know just how much money from the 150,000 spent on Roy's ended up in Johnny, Teddy and other city officials hands. There was an article about such in the Times Free Press. Then, the only announced opponent of these crooks ends up with bogus criminal charges. Most do not remember that in the last election the most viable opponent to Mr. Baker was disqualified by the clerk, Sherry Foster, who has had a long standing romantic relationship with Baker.

June 12, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
lcoffey1 said...

Her excuse was that he did not live in Rossville, when in fact the man did live in Rossville, he was simply inadvertently not registered to vote there. Then we have the various gambling halls and pawn shops that operate in Rossville. Should we forget that the only ones that do not pay a kick back are not allowed to stay? The bingo hall was raided and the owner was arrested. Those charges went nowhere after he hired the right politically connected lawyers, yet another business that refused to give pay-offs were run out of town. What about the guy that owned the land and buildings where Monument Motors is located? He was charged with running a gambling hall. That is after a land deal between him and a certain council member went south.

The status quo in Rossville is lying, stealing and cheating, and if anyone tries to hold you accountable, you use your corrupt police officer who has a very checkered past to try and criminalize their every move. They know these bogus charges will never stick, but the cost of paying lawyers to defend them is enormous and financially devastating.

Baker, Harris, and many others in Rossville are criminals acting as leaders. The proof is in the pudding as no real viable business has located and stayed in Rossville the last 12-20 years. I think that fact in itself tells the true story. As Chattanooga and other communities within 20 mile of Rossville have flourished, Rossville has continued to go down the tubes further.

It is time the voters remove all three positions that are up for re-election this fall. Send them packing. You have the chance.

Les Coffey

June 12, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.
lcoffey1 said...

One more point for the public to ponder. 14 minutes to send one firetruck 300 feet across the road. That is what happened last week when Rossvillee Metals burned. Baker says all departments are working togather. Hmmmmm

June 12, 2011 at 1:34 p.m.

Love the above response of the felon.

June 14, 2011 at 1:53 p.m.
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