Potential consequences of Donald Mitchell’s reality show gig

I didn’t editorialize much in my original story on Donald Mitchell’s reality show appearance. It was my intention to get the story out there and see where it went. And oh my did it take off.

But I did editorialize in a few interviews this week. My opinion was that Mitchell acted inappropriately. The way he portrayed himself was crude and his actions were demeaning towards women. He tarnished the reputation of Alpharetta.

What many have missed in this discussion is the television program itself. We watched the youtube clips showing Mitchell and that was it. If you get a chance, watch episode #9 which aired March 17th. It will change your mind. I considered posting some quotes from this episode but didn’t want to drag my blog down to this level.

“But Lee, it’s just acting!”

Yeah, I get it. But remember that he is portraying himself in this program. He’s also perhaps the most vulgar and over-the-top character on the entire show. That’s saying something!

I understand that downtown business owners are supporting Mitchell through this. They are his constituency and he does a lot for them. But allow me to frame this discussion differently…

The Cobalt Center

There are rumors that a large company may be close to inking a deal for this site. This is a 400,000 square foot corporate campus and data center that sits empty. Close to a thousand high-paying IT jobs are at stake. Landing a deal would be a huge win for Alpharetta.

Alpharetta is hunting whales here. These are multi-national, Fortune 500 firms. Companies like this don’t like to deal with uncertainty. Controversy is something they run from. They expect the utmost in professionalism and character. They are looking to relocate to a community of the highest caliber.

Donald Mitchell is jeopardizing deals like this by participating in Big Rich Atlanta.

Right now a Chamber of Commerce leader in Dallas or Charlotte is whispering into the ear of a corporate executive. He’s saying, “You don’t want to relocate to Alpharetta. Their leaders get on reality TV shows and demean women. You don’t want to be associated with a community like this!”

So while Donald Mitchell continues not to see anything wrong with his actions, the rest of Council lays awake at night thinking about the scenario above.

Before doing anything in public Councilmen should ask themselves, “Does this reflect a positive image of Alpharetta?” It sounds cliche but nonetheless very true. The consequences are huge.

Donald Mitchell can’t be a City Councilman and a trashy reality TV star at the same time. He should pick one and resign from the other.

17 Responses to “Potential consequences of Donald Mitchell’s reality show gig”

  1. Greg March 28, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    I agree, Lee, especially with your last statement. The problem is that while being a city councilman doesn’t sully your job as a reality TV star, the opposite is obviously true. The toothpaste is out of the tube. Even if he were to resign his city post, Alpharetta’s reputation has been dragged through the mud.

    The only solution I can think of is for the rest of the city council to publicly rebuke him. That’s the only way the city can distance itself from his “acting.”

  2. phatnate March 28, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Exactly. If Alpharetta was a small Georgia town it would not be a problem. But when multi-million dollar or even billion dollar corporations have Alpharetta on their radar as a place they want to do business, build or move to, the City Councilman’s conduct on a reality TV is relevant.
    In the corporate world these days what you do outside of your day job is more relevant than ever, especially when you consider employers are now looking at Facebook pages when considering whether to hire a potential employee.

  3. Amy Rogers March 28, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    The short clips on the internet are TAME compared to the March 17th episode. I watched the rebroadcast last Saturday. He is fall-down drunk calling women “whores” and “vaginas.” As for the “acting” excuse, Mr. Mitchell has not learned one of the first rules of politics: “When you are explaining, you are losing.” He is not acting. It is a reality show. He is presenting himself.

    As for his defenders, consider this: What if President Obama decided to do a little acting on the side. Let’s say he protrayed the worst stereotypes of an African-American male. The nation would be outraged. He would have insulted the dignity of his office and his race. Mr. Mitchell has done just this. Not only has he embarrassed Alpharetta, but his own gay community as well.

    His defenders are not helping him by keeping this issue before the public.

  4. Disappointed Citizen March 28, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    @Greg – Here’s the code of conduct for elected officials.

    http://www.alpharetta.ga.us/files/docs/pdfs/Council%20Meetings/2012/05-14-2012-CM/ITEM%20VIC-1%20-%20Resolution%20and%20Ordinance%20-%20City%20of%20Ethics.pdf

    Decent people extend grace to others who own up to their mistakes. The problem I’ve seen here and in other city scandals is that there is never any admission of guilt, only rationalizations for the behavior or denials thereof. This means we do not have humble men and women serving us. Everyone of us has made stupid, embarrassing choices, but until there is contrition and repentance, there can be no forgiveness.

    I really don’t think the men and women serving us get this and I find this incredibly frustrating. Humble servants. That is what most of us want.

    To say ‘I apologize if I offended anyone’ only means ‘I don’t see anything wrong with what I did and it grieves me that you do.’ That is not humility.

    Donald has three things to weigh: political, personal, and professional. There are short- and long-term consequences of our choices. The thing he must weigh are the consequences of humility or pride.

    I do hope that the people of this community will be decent enough to extend personal forgiveness if Donald does the right thing. You may still choose to not pull the lever next to his name and there would be reason for that, but we should all celebrate sincere humility from our civil servants as that seems to be in short supply these days.

  5. Disappointed Citizen March 28, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Shifting focus – I agree with you Lee. Every day this continues without being addressed by somebody in some meaningful way puts us in jeopardy of losing jobs in Alpharetta.

    I’ve not seen the actual TV show and don’t intend to watch it. The verbal descriptions from others are upsetting enough. Can we understand Donald’s thinking of why he thought taking a role like this would be good for him or Alpharetta? Or why he thought it wouldn’t matter? Would he be OK with a man touching and slurring his mother, sister, or niece in this way? If he is not this way in “real life” then why would he take on an “acting” role like this? Does he think it is OK or funny to treat women like this on screen? Many unanswered questions.

  6. Bill Teller March 28, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    With the Supreme Court taking up equality and civil rights issues this week, I thought I would make a considered and novel argument ths far.

    Donald Mitchell says he is acting and playing a role on this “reality” show. For dicussion’s sake, let’s take him at his word.

    The “character” in question is a profane stereotype that demeans an entire class of people. I have heard from many friends that what Mr. Mitchell is doing is pandering to one of the very worst stereotypes some people have, and in many ways it is every bit as offensive as a white person who appears in blackface. It is inappropriate, wrong, and demeaning. Too many people have worked too long for equality in this country to have someone like Donald Mitchell behave in a manner that is disrespectful and insulting to an entire community of people.

    I make no judgment on Mr. Mitchell’s personal life, and I do not purport to suggest that the “character” he claims to be “acting” is in any way an extension of his actual persona. I simply find what he is doing to be beneath the dignity of his office and the city of Alpharetta, and to the millions of people in this country who deserve better than to have prejudiced stereotypes reinforced on national television by an elected public official who should know better than to behave in this manner.

    This may not be the most popular argument, but I think the real problem is that Mr. Mitchell is insulting an entire community of Americans by behaving like a stereotype.

  7. episode 8 recap March 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Warning: R-rated. Contains offensive language.
    http://www.realitynation.com/tv-shows/big-rich-atlanta/episode-8-recap-2013/31043/

    Worth pointing out this site identifies the “actor” as an Alpharetta city councilman almost a whole week before Lee broke the story. Not sure of nondisclosure agreement but the information has been out there since the show’s first airing.

  8. misogyinst behavior March 30, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Bill Teller raises an interesting point when he says “it is every bit as offensive as a white person who appears in blackface.”

    What if someone had yelled out a derogatory name for homosexuals? What if someone had yelled an equally inflammatory racially-charged slur? How would this change the conversation? Why is it acceptable for women to be treated and slurred this way then?

    What is a bigger scandal is that city leadership has been in total silence. Where is the mayor’s voice on this? His silence can only be taken as tacit consent. He is promoting a hostile work environment for female city employees. I hope the women of this community are taking note of the mayor’s dismissive attitude towards women. Are we living in the west anymore or are women second-class citizens in Alpharetta now?

  9. misogyinst behavior March 30, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Does Mayor Belle-Isle hate women too???

  10. Brian Davis March 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Nothing Donald Mitchell or anyone on City Council does affects corporate relocations.

    To be honest the City is barely involved with most of this stuff on the front end. Most are lead by the Metro and NF Chambers, the State and Fulton Development Authority if they need bonds or REBA money.

  11. Parker March 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    misogyinst (sic) – You are over-reaching in suggesting that Mr. Belle-Isle hates women simply because he has not publicly denounced Mr. Mitchell’s actions.

    I don’t know Mr. Mitchell and his political record is too small to show much. Some people have said that he is only acting on the show and that this issue is overblow. I get the point, but I think that Lee has it right.

    What matters is how Mr. Mitchell’s behavior impacts the perception of the greater Alpharetta community. If we are going to be taken seriously as a business city, we need elected leaders who act seriously. We’ve had them before and we will again.

  12. Lee March 31, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    @Brian – Don’t tell Petar Tokar that.

  13. misogynist behavior March 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    @Parker
    You don’t think this promotes a hostile work environment for female city employees? So maybe you can tell me how you interpret the silence? One of his female clients held a campaign fundraiser for him in her neighborhood but would not respond to her numerous requests on a city matter when it was important to her AFTER the election. Seems to be his MO from what I’ve heard from other women. You read into that whatever you will and I’ll read into it what I will.

  14. Brian Davis April 1, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    Peter is a nice guy, but should focus on bringing retail business DT. Companies move to North Fulton regardless of City boundaries and don’t shop around talking to ED folks in 6 cities.

    Aside from available real estate Alpharetta offers nothing different than Roswell, JC etc.

    Sure protocol says alert the City in the final stages of a deal, but nothing they do can really reign them in.

  15. Parker April 1, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    @miso,

    You said, “Where is the mayor’s voice on this? His silence can only be taken as tacit consent. He is promoting a hostile work environment for female city employees.” My interpretation of your remarks is that you mean that “He” (the Mayor) is promoting a hostile work environment. I do not agree that Mr. Bells Isle not making a public comment about this matter creates a hostile work environment for women employed in city government.

    I think that Mr. Mitchell’s actions on the TV show were not appropriate for an elected official of my city. I believe that Mr. Mitchell will be called to account for this in the next election cycle and that the decision he faces over whether to focus on his political or acting careers has been made.

    As a council member, Mr. Mitchell is assigned as liaison to the city’s human resources department. Even so, he is not directly supervising city employees. You choose to be offended by his actions, but it takes more to create a hostile work environment that just have an elected official act like a fool and say offensive things in public.

    As I said, I agree with Lee on this one. We need serious professional people on our council to represent the serious professional people who live and work here.

    The simple solution to this is for Mr. Mitchell to announce that his acting career is his priority and therefore he will not be seeking reelection this fall. That ends the story and gets us back to serious and professional.

  16. misogynist behavior April 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    @Parker
    Only city employees can say and they won’t sing publicly. Murmurs suggest a double standard between employees and elected persons.

  17. Chrissy April 2, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    The Councilman is a good-looking man and I will tune into the show. As a matter of fact, I will host a party of women to watch the show. Are people mad because he has another talent other then being a lazy County worker? I will post on Facebook and advise people to watch the show.

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