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Friday, December 20, 2013 - 12:59pm

Atlanta Official Suspended Over Braves Stadium Emails

Atlanta’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer has been suspended for sending emails that included a racial slur and profanity.

Hans Utz sent the emails last month when the Braves made the surprise announcement they are moving to Cobb County.

The emails were released to the media Thursday as part of a freedom of information request.

Katie Leslie, city hall reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, says she was tipped off to the exchange, which was among 600 emails.

In a phone interview with GPB, Leslie says Utz was composing talking points on how big a blow the Braves move would be to Atlanta.

“Certainly, I mean I think it’s clear he regrets using those words. And what he said was ‘You know, look, it was at the end of a very long and difficult and frustrating day.’ He had been on social media reading kind of the firestorm of feedback and the quips and jokes that people were making. And he deployed some of them in his response to Carlos Campos.”

Carlos Campos is a spokesman for Mayor Kasim Reed.

Utz wrote: “They’re not going to call themselves the Cobb Crackers or the Smyrna (expletives). They will still be the Atlanta braves, and that is an indication of the value of the city.”

Utz is suspended for three days. Leslie says it’s unclear if Utz will remain on the job.

“Hans Utz is a former consultant with Bain and Company. He’s a very educated, successful, bright guy. I mean I think people would universally agree with that. With the exception of sending this very surprising email. So whether or not he was already planning on leaving, I can’t say. And whether or not this will show him the door, I guess time will tell,” said Leslie.

State Representative Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs represents Cobb County and says Utz should be fired because the email was completely vile and indefensible.

Despite Utz’s negative reaction, Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee is positive about the Braves’ future relocation to their new home.

“We look forward to the Braves move to Cobb and value our relationship with Atlanta. Our focus remains on getting the stadium open by Spring 2017 and we look forward to being a part of the regions continued success,” said Lee.

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