Dear John Eaves: You didn’t matter. Love, the Atlanta Hawks

John Eaves had to know something like this was coming, but even so. Ouch.

In today’s Morning Jolt, we had an item that included this:

On Thursday, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves, a candidate for mayor, won approval of a resolution authorizing the county to negotiate a deal with the Atlanta Hawks to upgrade Philips Arena – and thus keep them in the city. The county is a part-owner of the arena, along with the city.

These are the lines that Eaves wanted in the press release: “We watched how the City of Atlanta let the Braves slip away to Cobb County...We didn’t want to replicate what the City Council and mayor did in dropping the ball.” You can feel the burn.

Shortly after noon, we received a rather fiery note from Anne Torres, spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The choice bits are below:

John Eaves is launching his losing campaign with a lie. He played no role in the city's $142.5M funding of the Phillips Arena transformation - which keeps the Hawks in Atlanta for 30 years - he is merely helping the Atlanta Hawks finance their portion of the debt. The Fulton Commission voted to enter into negotiations with the Hawks, but has not completed the transaction yet. If he qualifies, Eaves will not sit on the Commission during these negotiations and for the final vote….

Atlantans are fortunate that John Eaves was not involved in the Atlanta Braves negotiations because he would have caved to the Braves’ demand to receive 70 acres of prime taxpayer-owned real estate at no cost. Eaves would have given away $400 million in taxpayer funds to prevent the team from moving 12 miles. …

Though Turner Field sits in Fulton County, Eaves likewise played no role in working with Georgia State, Carter and community members to redevelop this property and bring $250M - $400M in new investment to stadium neighborhoods.

…The best part about him quitting his job as the quasi-leader of Fulton County is that he will no longer be involved in public service once he loses his ill-fated race for Mayor of Atlanta.

But wait, there’s more. And from the Atlanta Hawks, no less. Again, the choice bits – this time from Garin Narain, senior vice president of public relations:

Our business is basketball, not politics. 

So we are deeply disappointed in the statement John Eaves released this morning.  Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta have shouldered all of the load to renovate the Hawks’ home arena and keep the Hawks in Atlanta for the next 30 years.  We value our relationships with the remaining Fulton County commissioners and AFCRA.

But for John Eaves’ campaign to suggest that his non-binding resolution yesterday — merely to open negotiations on a future bond transaction — had anything to do with keeping the Hawks in Atlanta is unfortunate and inaccurate.

We have reached out to Eaves for comment on this tag-team pile-driver, and will add below upon receipt.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.