Atlanta Deputy COO suspended over Braves email - Dallas News |

Atlanta Deputy COO suspended over Braves email

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The Deputy Chief Operating Officer of the city of Atlanta is speaking out after being suspended for sending an offensive email.

FOX 5 News has obtained that email sent during talks between the Atlanta Braves and city officials over a stadium deal caused Hans Utz to be suspended. In the email, Utz uses a racial slur and profanity.  

"They are not going to be calling themselves the Cobb Crackers or Smyrna (expletive deleted). They will be the Atlanta Braves and that's an indication of the value of the city," Utz wrote in that email that eventually led to his suspension.

The emailed remarks were made during the period where Atlanta was negotiating with the Braves to stay inside city limits. Since then, Cobb County has approved a new stadium site for the Braves, but the comments, email and others led to the unpaid suspension of Utz.

At least one city leader is disappointed by the disparaging remarks.

"I'm disappointed by the email. I know he is a very intelligent and resourceful person. Disappointed in the way he has characterized our neighbors to the north and want to express that folks in Atlanta do not feel that way about Cobb or Smyrna or the people that live there. This was an email between he and another staff member of the mayor. We are all servants of the public. Everything that we do is subject to public scrutiny. We have to observe a level of professionalism at all times," Michael Julian Bond told FOX 5's George Franco.

Utz admitted his part and apologized in a statement released to FOX 5 News.

"Those emails reflect a lapse in judgment on my part, for which I sincerely apologize and truly regret. I was the lead negotiator attempting to keep the Braves at Turner Field; an ongoing process of 18 months. The emails were sent at the end of a long, and frustrating, day in which the Atlanta Braves had announced their intentions to leave the City of Atlanta. The emails were my ill-advised attempt at using humor to make a point about the Braves still being a part of the greater metropolitan region. They were not meant to disparage our suburban neighbors. I recognize the remarks were inappropriate and simply should not have been made and I have been reprimanded for them," Utz wrote.

The city of Atlanta also weighed in on the email and suspension.

"These communications bear out what we have known all along: We were engaged in good faith negotiations with the Atlanta Braves as the lease on Turner Field neared expiration. We genuinely believed we were fully engaged to keep the team at Turner Field, as evidenced by a September memo submitted by the Braves. We were in the process of vetting the concerns raised in that memo when the Braves abruptly, and without warning, announced their intentions to move the team to Cobb County. We continue to believe that the City of Atlanta would not have been well-served by guaranteeing general fund revenues to back the debt required for a private sports stadium while an infrastructure backlog in excess of $900 million exists. The Braves made a deal with Cobb County to finance 45 percent of a new stadium that the City simply wasn't willing to make," a spokesperson for the city wrote.

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