Officials: Brothers’ relationship no problem if Daron Lee elected Warner Robins mayor

chwright@macon.comSeptember 4, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- If Councilman Daron Lee were to win the mayor’s seat in November, he and his brother would work under the same roof full time. But that would not be a conflict, the brothers and the city attorney said.

That’s because Gary Lee, the Redevelopment Agency executive director and Daron Lee’s older brother, does not technically work for the city of Warner Robins, the officials said.

“Gary (Lee) works at the direction of the Redevelopment Agency, which is comprised today of seven individuals that do not include the elected officials,” said Jim Elliott, city attorney.

And though some directives currently come from the mayor’s office, Daron Lee said he would not give those as mayor.

“I would leave all directives to the board, and the mayor and council would go through the board when it comes to the Redevelopment Agency and the executive director -- as it should be,” Daron Lee said.

The Redevelopment Agency receives the majority of its budget from the city’s motor vehicle rental tax special revenue fund. A small portion of the budget is transferred from the city’s general fund, and some money is collected from RDA-owned rental property.

The mayor and council made up the RDA board until April 2011.

“That’s why the mayor and council came off the board while I was a councilman, because of the concern of nepotism,” Daron Lee said. “Now, he (Gary) does not report to mayor and council.”

Even if there were not the board and Gary Lee were a city employee, it wouldn’t prevent Daron Lee from taking the mayoral position, Elliott said. He just wouldn’t be able to vote on personnel matters regarding his brother, according to city code.

As councilman, Daron Lee has declined to vote on matters concerning his brother.

“I’ve been an employee here before Daron decided to run for council, before the mayor was here,” Gary Lee said. “I was here.”

Mayor Chuck Shaheen declined to comment about his current role with Gary Lee, other than to say he gives directives to all city employees. The mayor previously has said he told Gary Lee to work on certain projects, such as the relocation of an F-15 jet and Commercial Circle.

Elliott said he assumed any of the mayor’s tasks for Gary Lee had been at the request of the RDA board.

“And certainly that would have to be revisited if his brother were the mayor,” Elliott said. “We would have to be very careful that the appropriate walls are also in place to prevent a relative directing another relative.”

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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