Mayor Haddix’s libel legal bill paid for by PTC taxpayers

Peachtree City taxpayers have paid nearly $10,000 in legal fees incurred by Mayor Don Haddix last year when he was sued for writing in an email to a city employee that former Mayor Harold Logsdon “drank a lot and came to meetings part drunk.”

Logsdon filed the suit last May against Haddix personally and not in Haddix’s official capacity as mayor. A settlement was reached in December as Haddix issued an apology.

According to city documents, Haddix filed paperwork with the city’s risk management company, Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA) to be reimbursed for $9,969.40 in legal fees he incurred to handle the matter.

Because the bill is below the city’s $25,000 deductible, the city had to cut a check to the risk management company for the entire amount. So in effect, the city directly paid for Haddix’s legal bills despite the fact that he was only sued personally and not in his official capacity.

Despite that distinction, Haddix contends that because the comment was contained in an email from himself to a city employee, the city should cover the fee.

“You cannot separate me from my capacity as mayor,” Haddix said, noting that indemnification of council members is a mandated coverage per city ordinance.

GIRMA had initially denied coverage for the lawsuit at least twice while the lawsuit was pending in April and May of last year. But the company reversed course following one more plea from Haddix, through City Attorney Ted Meeker, on Feb. 29 of this year.

Since the lawsuit was resolved, Haddix said he has tried to be more cautious about the words he chooses in emails.

“We all, once in a while, phrase things poorly,” Haddix said. “We all do that.”

Citing a confidentiality agreement in the lawsuit, Logsdon said only that the reason he didn’t file suit against Haddix in his official capacity was that he didn’t want the city to foot the bill.

The settlement was not disclosed by either party in the lawsuit, but since the city ultimately paid for it to be settled, there is a question as to whether the settlement has become a public document.

The city does not have a copy of the settlement, according to City Attorney Ted Meeker.

mudcat
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Golly gee, another idea for a T (shirt)

Look above, our mayor has explained the whole thing

“We all, once in a while, phrase things poorly,” Haddix said. “We all do that.”

Several variations of this would look good on a T-shirt.

One idea

PHRASING THING POORLY
NO, WE DON'T ALL DO THAT

Another

PHRASING THINGS POORLY
FOR FUN AND LAWSUITS

GeorgeDienhart
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Mike King

No worries on the ethics commitee- each of us appoints 2 people. The mayor does not appoint the whole board. In fact, I believe one of Councilman Imkers appointees is was Mike Latella. In the interest of disclosure my appointees were Sean Frick and Todd Strickland. Not sure who the others appointed.

mudcat
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Can't wait to see Haddix explain all this to Todd and Madmike

I don't know Sean, but he'll probably as astonished as Todd and Mike that Haddix has the nerve to divert city funds for his personal use, after being advised not to and then being turned down and later refusing a council request to pay it back.

Not sure who can institute an ethics complaint, but if there was ever a need for the ethics committee to meet and render judgement - this is it!

istilldontknow
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Recall?

Consider this:
http://www.sos.ga.gov/electionconnection/pdf/GA_election_law.pdf

Starts on page 19...

Grounds for a recall are:
1. The official has, while holding office, conducted himself or herself in a manner which relates to and adversely affects the administration of his or her office and adversely affects the rights and interests of the public; and

2. That official has also:
(a) Committed an act or acts of malfeasance while in office;
(b) Violated his or her oath of office;
(c) Committed an act of misconduct in office;
(d) Failed to perform duties prescribed by law; or
(e) Willfully misused, converted or misappropriated, without authority, public property or public funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been elected or appointed.

See O.C.G.A § 21-4-3(7). The discretionary performance of a lawful act or a prescribed duty cannot be a ground for a recall. Id. An act of “misconduct” in office means an unlawful act committed willfully or a willful violation of the State’s Code of Ethics for Government Service. O.C.G.A. §§ 21-4-4(8), 45-10-1.

I think part 1 and part 2(e) could be argued (misappropriated without authority). Have fun!

PTC Observer
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Perhaps a recall

is justified under the law, but the hurdle of getting enough signatures is daunting. Highly unlikely.

Besides, removing Mr. Haddix from office is not the issue. The issue is that the city and its taxpayers have been burdened with expenses related to a private and personal matter.

Mr. Haddix should either repay the city or wait to have papers served. They will be served Mr. Mayor on behalf of the citizens that you represent. It's in your court to make a proper decision.

Robert W. Morgan
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Duplicate post on plan to oust Haddix

What follows is a duplicate on an emerging plan to sue the mayor and to recover the taxpayers $10,000 and/or get him out of office without waiting until the end of 2013 since that seems an awfully long time to have an awful mayor. The original is under Mike King's letter, but it makes more sense to have it here.

City council and the city attorney have done what they can with the mayor's taking $10,000 out of the city for his own personal use - aka as his stupid mistake of running his mouth.

Oddly that story (entitled "Haddix won't pay back $10k") appears in the print version of the paper, but not on The Citizen website as of Sunday AM. I predict when more people are exposed to Haddix's arrogance at the Thursday council meeting where he was asked to pay the $10k back and was confronted with the reality of his improper stance, many more will come forward to offer money to fund a lawsuit against him to recover the money and force his resignation. It appears an ethics charge is looming, but I would still proceed with a lawsuit. Attorney needed to file and he/she would immediately receive $2,000 or more from just 4 bloggers.

I will organize and help anyway I can but I think it is very important that people be allowed to contribute to this effort anonymously. Personally I don't think Haddix has the power or the smarts to be vindictive against any one individual, but I have spoken to a couple of people who feel otherwise and they will only contribute if their names were withheld. So, I respect that and will proceed so that anonymous people can be included. Mr. King may or may not be in this category, but that will sort out by it self.

One thing that should be addressed is the issue of unused contributions. The attorney (still need one to volunteer) would agree to collect funds for fees and expenses, but if there is some amount left over, then that should be contributed to one or more specific organizations that are named before the first dollar is taken in - that way all contributors agree to this going in and there is no need to contact or even identify anyone when it is all over.

So, mudcat, NUK 1 and PTCO (1st 3 to commit to a specific dollar amount) please come up with a charitable organization and I and all future contributors will accept that and contribute knowing that's where the unused contributions will go. Please don't suggest a victory party at Y-not sports bar. Bad taste.

tgarlock
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RWM, an ethics charge has to be well . . .

. . . understood - this in response to an earlier idea of filing an ethics complaint against the mayor.

An ethics complaint has to overcome the obstacle of violating specific provisions of the city's ethics ordinance, which can be downloaded from the city website. What many people don't understand is the Ethics Board does not itself bring charges, they sit in judgment of the charge at a hearing after a citizen files an ethics complaint. The board decides whether such a complaint passes the sniff test of being serious and possibly viable, or whether it should be dismissed as frivolous. Then, during the hearing, the complaintant or surrogate has to serve basically as prosecutor of the case.

During the hearing, whether the defendant acted in an egregious way is not at issue. What matters is which ethics ordinance paragraph and sub-paragraph is he accused of violating, and is that violation adequately proven?

Finally, if an ethics complaint fails to jump the technical hurdles in the ordinance, and the defendant is acquitted of the charge, he might be able to tout his "innocence" according to the ethics ordinance, when in fact he may be guilty of the lesser offenses of having no class at all, no management sense, no judgment, no integrity and no honor, which is what I believe to be the case here.

The worst thing would be bringing an ethics complaint that fails.

Robert W. Morgan
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The SOB stole $10k from the city!!!!. That was what I heard

all afternoon at the neighborhood BBQ. Mostly mudcat, but others as well. The tide has turned against this evil little man and he seems clueless.

Got 3 people to pledge $300 each for the lawsuit/resignation effort, so with very little effort we are over $3k before we have begun. You know, it is funny that we may get to $10,000 by next weekend and we could actually reimburse the city from our contributions alone. All Haddix would need to do then is resign. Works for me.

Agree Terry that the ethics charge is a minefield and losing would be bad. Nevertheless, let that proceed if for no other reason than to distract the troll and let us proceed with the lawsuit. War on 2 fronts is not usually winnable. Surely you agree we need to rid ourselves of this evil little man. Can I put you down for $3 or 400?

tgarlock
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RWM, please contact me
PTC Observer
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Mr. Garlock - I agree

he has done nothing unethical, he has broken city policy and used its assets inappropriately for his own purpose.

However, he was sued by the former Mayor personally for personal reasons, Mr. Haddix used without authorization city property (the city e-mail system) to personally attack someone's character. I am sure this must be a violation of the communications policy set forth by the city. He has since apologized and agreed that he misspoke in his e-mail. There was a settlement between the parties, a private settlement, that did not include the city.

He then used his position as Mayor to inappropriately burden the taxpayers for a private matter. The suit against Mr. Haddix will be to prove that the facts happened pretty much this way, that the issue was a private matter between him and the former Mayor and that the city was not involved in the matter. In fact, the city would not have authorized the use of its assets for this purpose. Given these facts, he owes the repayment of these charges to the city, plus the expenses associated and incurred by the individual citizens that will sue him on behalf of the citizens of this city. It has been proposed and I agree that these proceeds will be donated to a charity. I propose the Wounded Warrior Project, to be agreed to by those contributing to the cost of the suit.

I think this issue falls into the category of personal responsibility for one's actions and deeds.

What say you Mr. Garlock? Want to throw in?

BTW, we're looking for a good attorney that will help us on this matter.

Mike King
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PTC-O

You may have a point that the mayor acted inappropriately by perhaps 'pressuring' the city attorney to submit his request for reimbursement for a third time. It was turned down twice earlier and hopefully, this will come out. Currently, the risk of losing an ethics complaint is real, and to paraphrase Mr Garlock I simply don't wish to have such an embarrassment to our city flaunting his innocence.

If the man had an ounce of honor, he'd resign.

PTC Observer
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Mike King - This

This has nothing to do with ethics, it has something to do with the fact that the city was no party to the original suit and in fact Mayor Haddix used city assets against city policy. The suit was a private matter and not a city matter, as such, the city should not be liable for the personal expenses of Mr. Haddix. You are correct, the city attorney gave his opinion twice, we have no way of knowing why he changed his position. That is not material to the coming suit, city attorneys have been known to be wrong in their opinions.

Hope this clears up this non-issue of ethics.

Mike King
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PTC_O

I agree with what you're saying, however, it has everything to do with ethics. For example, how many honorable men would expect a public bailout for a personal act of malfeasance? The fact that he was turned down more than once tells me that someone at city hall feels the way most of us in Peachtree City do. I can not explain the change of heart except that maybe someone was over ruled.
He will argue that he was acting in his capacity as mayor and as such he was offering his opinion to a city employee, solicited or not. Further, should he face an ethics charge I believe he will be judged by those HE appointed to serve in that position. Perhaps a look at those who he appointed to his ethics board should be considered. Lastly, we all know that he will keep delaying this for as long as possible which means that he would likely be running for reelection before this all comes to pass.
Don't get me wrong, the man is without honor and his actions were deplorable because the whole matter could have been resolved by a simple apology early on at minimal cost.
Could it be that those of us who elected this imbecile, myself included, are just now realizing the consequences of low voter turnout? There could very well be a lesson in this for all of us. Just a thought.

Davids mom
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Mike King
Quote:

Perhaps a look at those who he appointed to his ethics board should be considered

My concern about Gov. Deal.

Quote:

. .consequences of low voter turn out

A concern I share with you. Ethics of leaders and citizen responsibility to vote. . critical to our country.

grizz
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Responsibility to vote
Davids mom wrote:

Ethics of leaders and citizen responsibility to vote. . critical to our country.

I agree. That's why I'm voting twice in November against Obama.

PTC Observer
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Mr. King

Anyone can run and get elected in America, including men without honor.

"In response, council members directed City Attorney Ted Meeker to write an appeal to the city’s risk management company, asking it to reverse its decision to foot Haddix’s legal bill, which in turn forced the city to spend the money to reimburse the company without approval from the city council."

Perhaps the risk management company will do the right thing, I will wait and see. If they don't then legal measures will and must be taken to protect the citizens of this city from the mayor. Hard to believe that I am writing this sentence.

I await with anticipation the settlement document signed by the parties that are part of the public record. I am making a leap that no one in the city government besides the mayor signed this document. If the mayor signed on behalf of the city, then we have a little matter of a conflict of interest. It is not clear when this document will be available but I am certain that the Editor of this paper will be on top of it and give us a link.

In the meantime, we wait.

yellowjax1212
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A Statement From Mr. Mayor Is In Order

I wonder how long it will be before our Leader makes a statement to his, er I mean the people about this?
If and when (who am I kidding it always a matter of when) he develops an excuse to justify hitting the taxpayers wallets for 10K I propose that we hound him mercilessly on this and every other post he makes until he pays back the money or decides to stop posting on the Citizen. Either way, we win!

PTC Observer
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Yellowjax1212 - There is

always the possibility of suing Mr. Haddix personally on behalf of the citizens of the city. I'll just bet there is an attorney out there that would do this pro bono.

Do we have any takers out there on this one?

Then there's the crazy idea of a recall petition base on his inability to effectively represent the citizen's of PTC, aka incompetency.

Who wants to organize this one? I nominate Mike King, any seconds?

Robert W. Morgan
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Lawsuit against Haddix is a good strategy

Yes indeed there is a lawyer out there who would take this on for free - if not, I will gladly contribute something as long as others do so as well.
I like the lawsuit idea because it will first get the settlement document out in the open and there may be something in there that can be used later. Secondly, a lawsuit that drags on pressures him financially and at some point he's going to be forced to settle. Then the best part, the settlement offer could be for $1 provided he resigns as mayor.

And the lawyer that pulls this off could be elected mayor in a heartbeat.

Good plan, huh?

PTC Observer
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RWM - Sounds

Sounds good to me, where do I send the check?

Robert W. Morgan
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Law office of Ott, Lindsey, Webb or whoever steps up

and actually files the lawsuit. I'll go for $500 because I am really embarrassed for the city. Smaller amounts are fine and even encouraged because the more people that contribute to the lawsuit and support it, the more meaningful it is, IMHO.

All we need now is a lawyer to volunteer and to pursue a settlement that ends with a resignation and I'm sure the money will flow in his direction. After all, what is a fair price to cleanse ourselves of this stain on our city's reputation?

NUK_1
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I'm in for $500

I can't wait until the end of 2013 to get rid of him. The next year and a half looks too scary.

don't use Ott...he'll either blow it on the Golden Corral/Ryan's buffet line or trying to get smoking banned on the moon.

PTC Observer
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I'll chip in $1,000

Let me know where to send the check. At some point we'll get an attorney interested.

Mr. Haddix, do you hear us? The people are coming.....you sure you don't want to pay us back?

No?

Well, we'll get it one way or the other pal. Get ready to shell out some REAL dough.

Where's Dar Thompson when you need him?
What say you Mike King? Want to throw in here, have you had enough?

mudcat
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I'm in for $400, hubby says Victoria Secrets needs the rest

Oh, whatever, I am so tired of this nonsense with Haddix, I will do anything to move him along. What a dip. Get him gone. Anyway, time to slip into something more comfortable, if you know what I mean.

dawgday
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Resign

Haddix has been a chronic embarrassment to the city and under his tenure, has demonstrated a complete lack of leadership such that we now have a completely dysfunctional council. They are so busy monitoring his inane activities that the city is completely devoid of leadership. Now he has cost the city $10K for his personal activities that should, at minimum, be considered a gross violation of ethical conduct. He should resign immediately and failing to do so, should receive yet another censure, an attempt by remaining council to obtain a return of the $10K and subjected to recall. PTC, you better wake up. You have thieves and incompetents running the city.

Dondol
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Mayor Haddix =

is A Clucking Rectal Cavity :)

Citizen_Steve
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Wimps and Pigheads

Harold "Otis" Logsdon is a wimp for suing someone over a stupid comment and a pigheaded refusal to apologize.

Haddix is a pighead for the statement and not apologizing in the first place.

What is it about small town mayors that compels them to exercise their character flaws to the max?

Robert W. Morgan
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Open records is the way to go

That next to last sentence is relevant - if city funds were used for legal fees and the legal fees were used to pay a lawyer to craft a settlement document, it stands to reason that the settlement document is open to the public.

I say if we can't get the money back, we should at least be able to see what we spent it on. Right? If nothing else it gives his opponent next year something to wave around as one more reason to rid ourselves of this troublesome
individual.

This clown passed into "worse than Brown" territory a long time ago. Never thought that was possible.

abeautifulday4us
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Mr. Morgan, you are right.

Mr. Morgan, you are right. You would think we could see the settlement papers and find out what we're paying for since it was given to the insurance company. I don't understand----- what is the "$10,000 in legal fees" ? What is that ? Did any of that go to Mr. Logsdon ?

Robert W. Morgan
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Possibly fees for both Mrosek and Lindsey

Sometimes when things like this are settled out of court, the guilty party (the one with a big mouth that caused all the trouble in the first place) has to pay for the innocent victim's lawyer - the theory being that the innocent victim would not have needed to hire a lawyer had the guilty party kept his big mouth shut (or in this case, his stubby little fingers off the keyboard and the "send" button).

Another take on this is since Mr. Logsdon specifically sued Haddix as an individual because he did not want any city funds used for settlement or damages, Haddix asking the city for reimbursement is a violation of the settlement agreement and therefore the libel suit should be brought back. Then when it is settled the next time for another $10,000 the lawyers can include language that prevents Haddix from seeking reimbursement. Just something else to think about.

moelarrycurly
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Oh come on

who thinks the former mayor and his counsel didn't know there is a 25k deductible on GIRMA before he even filed suit? A former city attorney wouldn't know this ahead of time? Client and attorney both probably realized the payout would be below the deductible amount, and planned this legal maneuver. Either way, they win. Collect from the current mayor, or collect from the city tax dollars. They both knew the current mayor couldn't afford this payout, thus assuring the outcome of a payment coming from the city. The statement to sue personally and not as mayor is a bunch of hooey. So where is the altruistic "oh, I don't want the city to have to pay" crap coming from? Legal PR, that's all. So we all lose. Congratulations to all involved. You have earned my scorn and that of others who live here.

Robert W. Morgan
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You might have something there, curly and the others

Could be a lawyer conspiracy to scam the insurance company and ultimately the city.
Guess that will be confirmed when Logsdon doesn't walk the walk behind his talk the talk about not wanting the city to pay statement.

Or maybe he's sincere and will prove that to us by reinstituting the lawsuit. What's it gonna be?

You can be sure the lawyers got paid.

Come on Harold - get the little troll - he's pinned to the wall on this thing, all you have do is shoot him. Might lead to censure, recall and resignation - all good things for the city.

ptctaxpayer
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Look for another Kimmmy stink bomb

Look for another Kimmmy stink bomb at tonight's meeting, prefaced with "these good people" and "I care about Peachtree City". She wants that Mayor's seat bad.

The thing is, its gonna be empty. If $10k was enough money to Haddix that he would run the gauntlet for it, he'll never win re-election which means he probably has decided against it. Anyway, see ya Donnie, it's been fun.

Morgan may be right--- this may have been Logsdon's conspiracy plan all along. (P.S. I got a chuckle-----"he's pinned to the wall...All you have to do is shoot him.")

Meanwhile important issues are being ignored--- like beefing up Skippy's motorbike patrol and increasing the golf cart DUI road block cash cows. Yeah, its embarrassing nowadays to say you live here, but our clowns on council sure do make it entertaining.

NUK_1
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HEY! FREE SPEECH!

Remember, "Council can't silence Don Haddix!" "The only way to deal with suppression of free speech is more free speech!" Free speech was in any way "suppressed" because he got censured? What a joke.

There is absolutely nothing in this country or its Constitution that guarantees any right to free speech with no consequences. In this case, some idiot's mouth cost the taxpayers 10K. Anyone who thinks that Haddix has a right to shoot his ignorant mouth off all the time, feel free chip in and help reimburse the taxpayers for the 10K. Better yet, contribute it to his soon-to-fail reelection campaign in 2013 when we get to throw this loser out of office by probably a greater landslide than Brown's demise.

PTC Observer
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NUK_1 - Totally agree

Anyone can say anything about anything in America as long as they are willing to pay for the privilege. I think this is what this lawsuit was all about. The unfortunate thing is that the person expressing his opinion did so at our expense.

I guess you can say one positive thing about this issue, it will increase the election turnout next time.

mudcat
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Fine, let him talk. I just want my money back. Now!

If there was ever a cut and dried issue for the citizens of Peachtree City to confront city council with - this is it!
If council can't see it's way clear to censure this mayor and demand repayment, the rest of us have to do something.

A simple petition with 1,000 signatures might get them to act. It could say
"Should Mayor Haddix be forced to pay back to the city almost $10,000 in legal fees for a libel lawsuit filed against him personally?"
Maybe somebody on here can figure out a way to do an internet petition. That would be easier than standing around at the entrance to Kroger all week. Probably get the 1,000 responses quicker.

Then if they do censure him and demand repayment and he refuses, I think he's on his way to an ethics hearing for stealing money from the city - and yes I think that's what it is - stealing money, if council insists on payback and he refuses.

I would think the new councilman would have the courage to stand up and demand that the rest of council do something about this mayor. If nothing else we can measure the spine of all the council members.

I don't want to keep beating a dead horse, but I just want everyone to reflect and learn from our mistakes and in that spirit I ask the following - Can anyone possibly imagine Cyndi Plunkett stealing $10,000 from the city?

Evil Elvis
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Creepy old man

I'm totally grabbing my slick Austrian School sensibilities and my cool West Coast lowrider vato punk lounge singer style and running against the old goat, bitchz!

NUK_1
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Thanks a lot, loser

10K up in smoke over someone's fat mouth backed up with a mind seemingly incapable of learning a damn thing. Such LEADERSHIP!

PTC Observer
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NUK_1 - We

We can only hope this is the only money Mr. Haddix costs the taxpayers, but you know what they say about "loose cannons".

If you look it up, you'll see Mr. Haddix's picture there, smiling broadly. In fact, I think it's the one attached to all of his eloquent posts here.

Next election can't come too soon for us, let's hope he doesn't do something REALLY stupid.

istilldontknow
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Mayor Haddix - pay the City back.

You made a mistake that cost the City $10,000 unnecessarily. I shouldn't even call it a mistake; you did it willfully.

If you were a City employee, you'd probably be fired or suspended.

Pay the City back - publicly assert that you will not accept a salary for the next 12 months.

Otherwise, you might look just as suspect as the City management has in the media recently.

Council - you've got to do something about your City's management.

Spyglass
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Why am I not surprised...

This joker should resign before sunrise.

Mike King
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Simply Dispicable!

Any honorable man or woman would admit to this sophomoric behavior and take responsibility for a personal shortcoming. To place the burden of payment for this on those of us the mayor is sworn to represent is contempt and arrogance.

To make matters worse, a simple public apology would have settled the entire affair prior to it costing you and I $10,000.00.

Does anyone think that our Council will act to force our mayor to do what we all know to be right?

Robert W. Morgan
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Sophomoric behavior, Mike. How about Sophomoronic behavior?

Technically he is right. He made his stupid comments as a public official and was sued for that as mayor.
Nevertheless, I think he should have his reimbursement request denied and let him prove to the city that he was mouthing off as a public official. Then use that testimony to hang him - as a public official defaming another mayor. Kimmy, if city funds went to reimburse him, go for the jugular - now!

What an incredible dope we have for mayor.

cogitoergofay
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Reimbursement is a done deal

The City Council has to grant reimbursement. Why? Because they are being asked to reimburse the insurance company which has already reimbursed Mr. Haddix. If the Council does not pay the insurance company back, they will be sued and lose, under the terms of the contract of insurance. Mr. Haddix has already been reimbursed. Whether or not he SHOULD have sought reimbursement is an entirely separate issue, but an entirely academic (and perhaps political) one.

PTC Observer
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Mike King - ?

No