“When you talk to the council and say what we better do, that is most unprofessional and offensive,” Councilwoman Tammy Grimes said.
Councilman Rob Turner quoted the Bible as a rebuke to Lary’s strong language — Matthew 12:37: “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
“Please be more mindful in how you express your discontent, your disagreement and your frustration and remember how you’re talking to us as colleagues and as adults — people who love this city as much as you do,” Turner added.
Lary didn’t return The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s request for further comment Monday.
Tensions between the mayor and most of the City Council have worsened since Lary returned from his second battle with cancer. Meetings have been abruptly canceled, accusations of malfeasance have been made and internal investigations and financial audits have been launched.
At the end of Sunday’s meeting, Lary apologized for his word choice, saying his uncertain health condition has heightened his sense of urgency.
“I may have to go out for a third cancer surgery, and when I use the words ‘you better pick somebody,’ ‘we have to grow up,’ or ‘mature up,’ I may not be here,” he said. “So I’ll apologize for using those words.”
The city has a deputy city manager, Plez Joyner, but it hasn’t had a city manager since 2019, when Michael Harris left to take a position with the Henry County government. In lieu of a successor, the city has relied on Jacobs Engineering, a private company from Dallas, Texas, to manage the city’s administration.
“I have a different sense of urgency than you all (City Council) because something might happen to me,” Lary said.
Lary has chosen to keep most of the details surrounding his cancer battles private. He was first diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2018, but he didn’t take any time off during his radiation treatments.
Missing council meetings created rifts between Lary and Councilwoman Jazzmin Cobble, who was sued over two missed meetings in 2019. A judge dismissed a petition to remove her, but the two have had a rocky relationship since then.
While there’s been many disagreements between the council and mayor, city leaders said those issues don’t trump the mayor’s well-being.
“We differ on a lot of political things, but when it comes to our health and our family, there’s no separation,” Mayor Pro Tem George Turner said to end Sunday’s meeting. “We pray for your speedy recovery and your good health.”
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