The PTC Council majority vs. the rule of law

Cal Beverly's picture

This opinion column begins with some assumptions: We are a nation of laws, not men; we are a state of laws, not men; we are a city of laws, not men. (Ladies, you are included in these variations of John Adams’ famous declaration that he wrote into the 1780 Massachusetts constitution.)

Here in Peachtree City, we have gone off the legal track, and our City Council majority is acting as a government of men, not as a government of laws.

In this column I will show you why I believe the council majority has committed the following violations in taking the recent legislative action that reduced the pay of Mayor Don Haddix from $750 a month down to $75 a month:

1. Violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against a bill of attainder.

2. Violation of the Georgia Constitution’s prohibition against a bill of attainder.

3. Violation of the plain-language prohibition against altering the salary of a mayor or council member contained within the City Charter, the founding legal document of Peachtree City — our local “constitution.”

Here are the relevant passages:

“No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed” — Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3, The Constitution of the United States.

“Paragraph X. Bill of attainder; ex post facto laws; and retroactive laws. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, retroactive law, or laws impairing the obligation of contract or making irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities shall be passed.” — Article I Bill of Rights, Section I Rights of Persons, Paragraph X, Georgia Constitution.

“Sec. 2.10. - Compensation of mayor and council members as fixed; expenses of office allowable. (a) The mayor shall receive an annual salary and each council member shall receive such annual salary as shall be established by ordinance during the proceeding term for which such official shall have been appointed or elected. Said salaries shall be paid in twelve (12) equal monthly installments on or before the last day of each month.” — City Charter of Peachtree City, Section 2.10. (http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=11414)

In addition, the charter specifies the oath of office to be taken by each member of council: “I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will well and truly perform the duties of (mayor) (mayor pro tem) (council member) of Peachtree City by adopting such measures as in my judgment shall be best calculated to promote the general welfare of the inhabitants of Peachtree City and that I will support and defend the Charter and ordinances thereof as well as the constitution and laws of the State of Georgia and of the United States of America. So help me God.”

So, Councilman Eric Imker and his three council supporters — Kim Learnard, Vanessa Fleisch and George Dienhart — have sworn an oath to support and defend the charter, its ordinances, and both the Georgia and U.S. constitutions.

Did Mr. Imker and his cohorts “support and uphold” those basic governing documents, or did they violate all three of those documents?

For review, what’s a bill of attainder? Let’s see what the U.S. Supreme Court said in a couple of cases:

In a 1965 case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the court ruled, “The prohibition embodied in this [bill of attainder] clause ... is to be interpreted in accordance with the designs of the framers so as to preclude trial by legislature, a violation of the separation of powers concept.”

“The clause thus prohibits all legislative acts, ‘no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial. ...’” the high court said in a 1946 case. Notice the phrase, “no matter what their form.”

So, how is what Mr. Imker and supporters did a bill of attainder?

They specified one individual out of the entire city and cut that person’s pay by 90 percent.

Their idea was to take back about $10,000 in legal fees the city treasury paid for the mayor’s legal fees in a libel case.

Was it a legislative act? Yes. Was it aimed at one individual? Yes.

Was it a penalty or punishment? It was an involuntary taking of a lawfully designated salary that, when fully implemented by the council majority, will amount to a taking of $10,000. The answer is yes, it was a penalty, a punishment.

Was there a judicial trial with appropriate due process? No. The council majority in legislative session initiated the action and passed it 4-to-1.

Mr. Imker, though he had cross-examined the city attorney like a hostile witness the previous meeting about the disbursement, framed the legislative action as a “budget” matter.

Though Mr. Imker in his letter to the editor asserts that he and the majority allowed Mr. Haddix due process, the assertion is laughable in its ignorance of what true due process means.

“Due process,“ Encyclopedia Britannica says is, “a course of legal proceedings according to rules and principles that have been established in a system of jurisprudence for the enforcement and protection of private rights. In each case, due process contemplates an exercise of the powers of government as the law permits and sanctions, under recognized safeguards for the protection of individual rights.”

In the taking of money by Imker and cohorts, where were “the rules and principles that have been established in a system of jurisprudence for the enforcement and protection of private rights”?

One of the essential elements of due process is an impartial tribunal. Justia.com says, “Just as in criminal and quasi-criminal cases, an impartial decision maker is an essential right in civil proceedings as well. ‘The neutrality requirement helps to guarantee that life, liberty, or property will not be taken on the basis of an erroneous or distorted conception of the facts or the law. ... At the same time, it preserves both the appearance and reality of fairness ... by ensuring that no person will be deprived of his interests in the absence of a proceeding in which he may present his case with assurance that the arbiter is not predisposed to find against him.’”

Does any resident of Peachtree City truly believe that Mr. Imker and his three supporters represented “an impartial tribunal” that was “not predisposed to find against” the mayor?

Indeed, in his letter to the editor, Mr. Imker said this about Mayor Haddix: “I did, however, see a deceitful mayor try to steal $10,000 from the taxpayers. ... I’m not the one having their salary reduced because I tried to steal $10,000 from the citizens.”

Mr. Imker is explicitly stating that he and the council believed the mayor was guilty of theft and that the council took its pay reduction step to recover stolen funds. But they swore out no warrants, filed no legal action before a legally constituted court, indeed never specified what law, ordinance, rule or policy the mayor allegedly violated.

Instead, Imker, Learnard, Fleisch and Dienhart acted as complainant, magistrate, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner in the case they dubbed “Taxpayers vs. Haddix.” Under Imker and cohorts, a legislative body morphed into another branch of government, the judiciary.

And that’s Mr. Imker’s idea of “due process.”

I contend that by passing a “budget adjustment” aimed to penalize one person, Mr. Imker and his band of three have violated both the U.S. and Georgia constitutions’ prohibitions against a bill of attainder and, further, have trampled on Mr. Haddix’s rights to due process concerning his city salary, previously set by ordinance.

The council’s action also seems to “impair the obligation of contract” that existed between the city via its charter and a duly elected official who has an expectation that he/she will be paid per the charter’s specifications.

The council majority court also may have violated this provision of Georgia law. OCGA 36-35-6 (a)(2)(C), “Limitations on home rule powers” of cities says a city legislature cannot pass an ordinance “providing for fines and forfeitures in excess of $1,000 ...”

I would argue that a $10,000 taking of an elected official’s salary could be seen as an illegal forfeiture under this state law, all the more so since the council was acting in an impermissible judicial capacity. It would have been a forfeiture made up on the spot, applicable to only one individual. Never mind that the council majority court of four made no finding of the mayor’s violation of any specific state law, city ordinance or city policy.

Now let’s deal with Mr. Imker’s assertions of having done his homework. He must have skipped reading this part of the city charter: “such annual salary as shall be established by ordinance during the proceeding term for which such official shall have been appointed or elected. Said salaries shall be paid in twelve (12) equal monthly installments on or before the last day of each month.” Thus Mr. Imker and followers violated the charter in two regards.

They can’t alter the salary because it was established by ordinance “during the preceding term” (meaning before Haddix was elected mayor) and that set salary, per the charter, must be paid in “12 equal installments” (going from $750 one month to $75 the next month does not meet the “equal” requirement set by the charter).

The underlying principle is that salary changes can only be implemented in the term following the change by ordinance. In this case, “term” would mean the full four years for which Haddix was elected.

(The council does have the power by ordinance to change the salary of the next mayor — just not this one, and only if they do it before the next mayor is elected or appointed.)

And the council, even if it were unanimous, does not have the unilateral power to change the city charter by “budget adjustments,” whatever the members’ intentions.

Mr. Imker and cohorts could amend the city charter first to allow for the change in the salary of a public officer, but they would have to follow the state law requiring that such a charter amendment be advertised over a period of weeks and the measure itself would have to come up for a council vote in two consecutive council meetings.

And even then, if they were successful, they would run afoul of the constitutional prohibition against bills of attainder. They would just have enshrined the official bill of attainder in the city charter ... until any court got hold of it.

Thus, Mr. Imker, Ms. Learnard, Ms. Fleisch and Mr. Dienhart have — in my opinion, as demonstrated above — violated the city charter.

Now to their oaths of office: Mr. Imker, Ms. Learnard, Ms. Fleisch and Mr. Dienhart swore an oath to “support and defend” the city charter and the constitutions of Georgia and the United States.

According to the Official Code of Georgia, “16-10-1, Violation of oath by public officer — Any public officer who willfully and intentionally violates the terms of his oath as prescribed by law shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.” That’s obviously a serious matter.

In passing what seems on its face to be an unconstitutional bill of attainder and in what seems to be an open-and-shut case of violations of the city charter provisions concerning pay of elected officials, have the four elected officials violated their oaths of office?

In his letter, Mr. Imker explicitly takes credit for introducing the measure: “I took no pleasure in being the one to make the motion to reduce the mayor’s salary. But somebody on council had to do it, so I did. If you know anything about me by now, you know that I refuse to be politically correct. ... Did you not see a motion made and voted 4-1? ... There clearly is no hearing required. Substantive notice was given at the proper time by adding it to the agenda packet the week before. We did not try to hide what was happening.”

Mr. Imker, by his own words, certainly meets the “willfully and intentionally” part.

Imker further says, “Again, I did my homework, but remember, I am not a lawyer. I asked about case law regarding the city’s responsibility for the mayor’s personal slander against the former mayor.”

My question is this: Did Mr. Imker bother to consult the city charter, which should have been his first stop, and which should have stopped him and his trio of supporters from further mischief? If he did consult the charter, he seems to have ignored what he found.

Much of the chatter about this case of an unpopular mayor and a pandering council majority has dealt almost entirely with the ends and has ignored the legality of the means.

Some seem to say, “I don’t care how they get that $10,000 back from Haddix, what’s important is that they get it back.” Pragmatism and public unpopularity thus overrule governing principles and the rule of law.

Dear citizen, to go down that path is to leave the rule of law behind. Down that path lies tyranny.

[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]

MYTMITE
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If i may digress, thanks to Mr. Garlock for passing on Kevin

(Hack's) request for my home phone number to Mr. Beverly and for Mr. Beverly for taking the time to do so. Spoke with Kevin today and he is doing fine and said to say hello to all his friends on this site. He was on his way to Chicago and is spending lots of time travelig with his sons. He wants to get together for a coffee (or adult beverage) meeting soon when he is back in the area. Good to hear from him.

cogitoergofay
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Alas, the end, Mr. Beverly----

Alas, the end, Mr. Beverly---- at least of this issue.

Don't get me wrong---- you were absolutely correct in your conclusions.
You have raised some very valid legal points, confusing some bloggers as to whether or not you may have had legal training. You may want to consider law school. Georgia State has a very good night program !

Allow me to express my views in spite of the Garlockian sin of anonymity.

Your editorial was dead on right. Council knows it. But for $10,000 they know you are going nowhere in court. They will spend more than $10,000 communicating with their attorneys on this issue (privately, of course, so no Open Records requests, please). Your editorial on the wrongs of the Peachtree City Council, however, demonstrates what is wrong with our civil justice legal system. It simply costs too much money to be heard and the council, their lawyers and their insurer know it. They also know that a civil rights group (i.e., ACLU, Cato, Liberty, etc.) will be unlikely to take it up. If you find one that will I will stand corrected and buy you lunch.

The public (with its microscopic internet attention span) has also moved on. Or at least that's what the Council hopes. The public is now looking at the School Board's financial follies. And your website has relegated your stellar legal opinion to the dark, back pages. It looks as though the issue has died. And, oh yes, isn't there a local election of some importance in a few weeks ?

Good work ! Let's see if you can find a lawyer. I'll bet a lunch against it.

tgarlock
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Allow me to pick a nit for you.

Anonymity is not the sin I threw rocks at recently. My criticism was aimed at the juvenile behavior of name-calling, sarcasm, ridicule and innuendo while cowardly hiding behind the shield of anonymity. I'm sure you can see the difference, even though this was hardly the point of your post.

I know it is hard not to be just a little bit snide, as your post is and mine as well, but it is too bad so many bloggers can't apply the same responsible restraint in their written communication as they would if their name were attached, and if they did then anonymity would not be an issue at all.

Terry Garlock

NUK_1
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Cal is likely correct

I spoke out against Council's proposed end-around before they did it because there are much better ways to accomplish what they are trying to do in getting Haddix to (a) cough up the money or (b)get the hell out of office, but all the Council's actions have done is to make Haddix somewhat of a martyr at this point. There's even a couple of people here now publically defending the guy, which hasn't happened in a long time and also shows how far over the line the 4 on Council went.

Haddix as a sympathetic figure is alarming and sickening and Council should have never pushed it to the point that anyone loses sight of what a terrible job this petty little person has done as a Mayor and his scorched-earth attacks on anyone who disagrees with him that has created this poisonous environment to begin with.

Spyglass
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The talk around my neighborhood

shows anything but sympathy for Haddix. They realize what a goofball we elected and want him gone. As far as his pay being cut to recover the 10K or so, most feel he is still way overpaid.

Cal can bluster all he wants...it's not changing anyone's mind about the giant mistake PTC made in electing Haddix mayor.

pumpkin
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AT LEAST SOMEON MAKES SENSE

I totally agree.

johngio
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Question

You obviously disagree with Mr. Imker and diligently backed up your reasons. Congratulations on your quest to vilify him to deflect attention away from the mayor. Now let's cut to the chase. What do you suggest we do about our Mayor's lack of maturity in a public situation? Does he deserve unlimited taxpayer funding to defend his sophomoric behavior?

If Mr. Imker gets his way no one loses. The mayor would be forced to pony up what a stand-up guy would do anyway, while the taxpayers all benefit by not paying for his unfiltered mouth. If Mr.Imker's ways insult you, perhaps you can eloquently outline in detail what we need to do to recall the mayor.

I'll be the first to sign.

John Giovanelli DC

PS - I never met Mr. Imker and I'm not promoting his ideas, but I sure as heck wouldn't slam the guy without offering up some type of resolution.

citizenal
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Take the time to meet Imker

And talk to those who have worked with him. You cannot tell him apart from Haddix except that he will change his ideas to look good. He ran on a promise of no new taxes and then voted for the highest increase option.

The Mayor is no model of decorum but he is in good company. The office of Mayor was damaged by this crazy council as much or more than by the Mayor!

tortugaocho
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No Thank you on Imker

You are absolutely right CitizenAl....Imker has not kept his campaign promises and is a hypocrite when it comes to budgeting. He worries about $10,000 to Haddix and then pisses away damn near a million on two plastic roof structures for recreation.

I agree. The whole Council is useless. The only difference between the 4 and the 1 (Haddix) is that he has a Censure Certificate to hang over the mantel.

madmike
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Cal: Are you an attorney?

I am not being facetious with that question. You make solid arguments with appropriate citations... if you aren't you should be.
In his rebuttal to you, Imker suggests (but does not explicitly confirm)that council had the legal "go-ahead" to dock the pay of the mayor from city attorney Ted Meeker. If that is so and you are not an attorney, then my money has to go on the one who has been trained and licensed in this state to make such determinations, especially one who has spent many years practicing administrative law representing multiple municipalities. He is and should be an expert on matters such as these. I would be of the same mind if I were choosing whether to have a medical procedure done and I had your advice and that of a doctor. No offense, but I would have to defer to the guidance of a medical professional.
Again, I am making two assumptions here (1 - you are not an attorney and 2 - city council had "pre-approval" by Meeker for this action). If I am wrong on either one, please correct me.

Thank you

PTC Observer
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Madmike - I am

I am not an attorney, but I can read and reason. I will not repeat what Mr. Beverly has written but believe based on the facts presented that he is correct.

I have read nothing about Mr. Meeker being involved in this process.

If you have cold, I think, you would not need the guidance of a medical professional. Simple remedies would be the most effective, just like this case. The council should reverse course or I suppose it's one for the ACLU.

madmike
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PTC Observer...

Appropriately, it requires more than the ability to "read and reason" to practice law in this country. While I appreciate your belief that Cal is correct in his assessment, there are legal questions that will need to be answered here that will be left up to judges who are attorneys.
We can all weigh in on what we think is right or wrong, what makes sense, and what is equitable. But if Meeker's opinion was that this was appropriate or at least not prohibited under the law, then that carries the most weight and remains and important distinction in this situation.
I hope that Eric or one of the other council members will set the record straight as to the extent of the involvement of Meeker prior to the pay-docking incident. Just my two cents.

PTC Observer
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madmike - City Attorney

Attorneys need to make a living too I suppose. To me the law is pretty clear on this and pretty simple to understand. They did write the Constitution so we could actually understand what is says and its intent. Only the SCOTUS can obfuscate its meaning it seems.

It's all about opinion as to who might be correct in this situation. You did put two provisos in your post; one of those being that Mr. Meeker knew about the pending action and advised that the council could do it.

So far, I haven’t read that he did this. Nor have I read where he went to the city council and informed them that Mr. Haddix was seeking financial relief from the insurance company. Naturally, he would have known that anything under the deductable would have been paid by the city directly. The reason he should know this is that he must review all contracts with outside parties prior to execution.

So, it seems we don’t really know if Mr. Meeker has been representing the interests of the city or has been bending to political pressure. It would be good to hear from him directly on this. A statement to this fine publication would do.

As to whether or not the action of the council is Constitutional, I think some independent group like the ACLU should pick this up and run with it. You see, if it is unconstitutional then it’s too important to ignore. Don’t you think? This means if the ACLU or some organization like them filed suit, the cost of the litigation would be borne by the city. This assumes that the city council did not reverse itself on this matter in the interim. It is important to remember who got us into the fine mess, Mr. Haddix a person that should to be held with the esteem and respect that he has earned.

ssidenative
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If you're right (you're not) let Haddix sue

Here's the reality:

Don Haddix libeled Harold Logsdon; that's uncontestable fact, based upon Haddix entering into a settlement. So, the costs of the settlement - regardless of the capacity under which the act was committed - should be borne by Mr. Haddix.

If he did it as mayor, he owes it to the city and it citizens to pay for his own stupidity. If he did it as a private citizen, he owes it to everyone to pay for his own stupidity.

Mr. Beverly, you can write a hundred 10,000 word 'legal' essays and those facts will not change.

Mr. Imker and the council are to be commended for protecting the financial interests of the city.

You, Mr. Beverly, should be taken to the journalism 101 woodshed and punished for your verbosity; even if you were right (you are not), the wordiness, repetitiveness, and complete lack of clarity in your column completely obscures your point.

Happiness to all...

borntorun
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The Tao of Cal

Well, ssidenative, me thinks that was Cal's intent with what has to be the most verbose and disjointed editorial ever written and one that in the end proves nothing. Just throw way too many words in the column and baffle the masses with pseudo-intellectualism and to be honest plain ol' bullcrap. Maybe council acted in haste and should have waited on the result of the appeal letter sent to GIRMA by Erica but I see nothing in Cal's high school level editorial that proves council acted illegally. But let Donnie sue and we will find out for sure. Hey....perhaps more lawyering work and billing the city for Esquire Meeker??

tgarlock
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It is your option to use a pseudonym to conceal . . .

. . . your identity, but sure would be nice if you had the character to govern your words as if your name were attached. I doubt you would use these same words were you face to face with Cal. Agree or disagree, seems juvenile and cowardly to me to use the shield of anonymity to say things a responsible adult would not otherwise say.

Terry Garlock

borntorun
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Mr. Garlock

First of all, thank you for your service to this country. And I say that with all sincerity. I have a lot of respect for you and find myself agreeing with your columns the vast majority of the time. And in those rare cases where I don't agree, I admire your way with words to convey your message. As for me using a pseudonym, gosh....99% of the people on this blog do the same. So if I'm guilty of some crime, I will have lots of company in the pokey! Actually there is something to be said for not putting one's real name on here. For those of us who choose to not do so, it puts the focus on the message and not on the messenger. I've seen it happen with responses to your columns where people's responses are colored by their feelings either for you or against you rather than what you actually said. I'm sincerely sorry you consider my response to be juvenile or cowardly but the fact is if Cal submitted that column as a paper in any Journalism 101 class, he would flunk. It rambled on and on and failed to prove anything in my opinion. Heck, it was even worse than Imker's letter to the paper last week which also was just a horribly written letter. But then again, Imker is not a journalist....Cal is...or is supposed to be. Let's be honest here. Cal's love for all things Steve Brown and Don Haddix is no secret. And he has shown he will rarely if ever question anything either one of them does or says. Heck, he even gave Brown a weekly column when running for county commissioner! Let me ask this question....suppose Cyndi Plunkett was mayor and pulled the same stunt as Donnie did? Does anyone really think Cal would have come to her defense as he has with Donnie? I doubt it. I find it interesting that according to Betsy Tyler, Cal has been in possession of the three requests sent to GIRMA since May 14th and yet has not been willing to share copies of the letters in his paper. Even though as I understand it the third one was worded ever so slightly to make it appear that Donnie was sued as mayor and not personally. He has also not published a copy of Imker's appeal letter to GIRMA. For that you have to go to the Fayette Daily website to see what Imker wrote. I think most of us consider all of those documents to be newsworthy and of interest to the citizens of PTC who care about this shameful episode. And I think any reputable journalist would feel the same. Personally, I wish council had waited on a response from the GIRMA appeal letter before taking the action they did. I have a feeling that once the folks at GIRMA compare all three requests, there is the possibility they may reverse their decision. But for whatever reason, council chose not to wait. And I have to believe that legal counsel was sought by council before taking said action. If not, shame on them and a decision they will also soon regret. Again, I'm sorry you don't agree with what I said but we do apparently agree on one thing. Donnie is unfit for public office.

tgarlock
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Borntorun, I don't quibble with anonymity . . .

. . . on the blogs although admittedly I don't like it, but that isn't my issue with your previous post. And I admit yours was just like many others daily on these blogs. I don't even argue with your opposition to Cal's conclusions in his column, or his style in writing the column.

What I find troubling in that post (and many others by other people) is the use of nakedly insulting words - hiding behind anonymity - that I doubt you would use in connection to your name, or in a face to face conversation with Cal since it breaches the most basic common courtesy.

I will add, and this is only my personal opinion, that I think you are wrong in ascribing motives to Cal. I have never met Cal and have only corresponded with him now and then by email, but by watching over the years I think he is an honorable man with a deep commitment to freedom of speech, which is why the same small group of people on these blogs get to say what they want every day. My guess is Cal figured out over time that Haddix is a jerk, like I did, but I don't know. And I don't see his opinion about council's actions to be defending Haddix at all, I see it as concern over proper due process, and I have the very same concern, even though I think Haddix's actions were egregious.

But back to my motivation to the initial comment I made. It is so easy to disagree without being disagreeable, I wish everyone on these blogs would take that to heart instead of freely slinging insults while hiding behind anonymity.

Terry Garlock

borntorun
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Agree Mr. Garlock...To A Certain Degree

No doubt most of us on this blog including yours truly go over the top from time to time when discussing issues. But I think thats because most of us are passionate about what we believe in and care very much for this wonderful city. And I will say the Donnie/GIRMA issue has touched a nerve in this community like no other I can remember including anything Steve Brown foisted on this city while mayor. And I don't mean just among the bloggers either. This whole sorry episode is topic #1 wherever you go. And while I'm sure Donnie has his supporters (even though they have been noticably absent on the blogs), I've yet to hear anyone say what Donnie did was appropriate. Yes....people are split on council's action with the docking of his pay but I've yet to meet anyone who says Donnie was entitled to the GIRMA reimbursement. As for Cal and his motives, I'm sorry but we will have to respectfully agree to disagree. I believe strongly that the press has an obligation to poke, prod and question our political leaders...both on the national as well as local level. And Cal has no problem doing so when the person in question is someone he disagrees with. Strange that Cal requested copies of all the GIRMA documents under the Open Records Act and yet feels no compulsion to share them with his readers. Why request them? You can't say its matter of respect for due process. They are public record...not some proprietary piece of evidence. Could it be his political backing of Donnie in the mayor's race? I don' know. Just a guess. But I still say that if Cyndi Plunkett had been elected mayor and did what Donnie did, Cal's dislike for her was so strong that he would not defend her like he has Donnie. And in fact would be chomping at the bit to publish all documents. I guess we will see how all of this plays out but in the mean time, PTC in general and Donnie specifically continue to be cast in a bad light. Such a stubborn smallheaded man we have for mayor.

borntorun
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GIRMA Appeal Letter

For those of you interested in seeing what Imker wrote last Tuesday to George Van Leuven, the manager of Risk Management Services for GIRMA:

“By payment of the claim, GIRMA apparently changed its position from Mr. Haddix' actions not being official city business to such actions being official city business, therefore affording Mr. Haddix the use of taxpayer monies to provide for his defense in every instance at looking at this statement, we find absolutely no reason to understand how slandering a former mayor constitutes city business. The plaintiff in this case made it quite clear they were suing Mr. Haddix in his capacity as an individual and completely separated this from his role as mayor. This is a standalone case of individual versus individual not related to city business. Plaintiff even went so far as to conclude saying he did not want the taxpayers of Peachtree City to be liable for any resulting monetary decision resulting from this case because he was suing Mr. Haddix as an individual.”

Imker also noted that the appeal letter Haddix sent contained ‘factual’ errors, including: (a)"Mayor" Haddix did not receive a letter from plaintiff, Harold Logsdon; Don Haddix, a private citizen received the letter; (b) Mr. Logsdon's letter did not claim defamation against the "Mayor;" it was against the individual Mr. Haddix; (c) A lawsuit was not filed against the "Mayor;" it was filed against Mr. Don Haddix.
“For Mr. Haddix to suggest that slanderous comments were city business just because they were sent via a city computer is arguable. It may be official city communications but it is not official city business. Ultimately, the content of the communication is what determines whether it was official city business or not.”

Let's hope GIRMA sees the error of its way and reverses its original decision.

borntorun
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GIRMA Appeal Letter

For those of you interested in seeing what Imker wrote last Tuesday to George Van Leuven, the manager of Risk Management Services for GIRMA:

“By payment of the claim, GIRMA apparently changed its position from Mr. Haddix' actions not being official city business to such actions being official city business, therefore affording Mr. Haddix the use of taxpayer monies to provide for his defense in every instance at looking at this statement, we find absolutely no reason to understand how slandering a former mayor constitutes city business. The plaintiff in this case made it quite clear they were suing Mr. Haddix in his capacity as an individual and completely separated this from his role as mayor. This is a standalone case of individual versus individual not related to city business. Plaintiff even went so far as to conclude saying he did not want the taxpayers of Peachtree City to be liable for any resulting monetary decision resulting from this case because he was suing Mr. Haddix as an individual.”

Imker also noted that the appeal letter Haddix sent contained ‘factual’ errors, including: (a)"Mayor" Haddix did not receive a letter from plaintiff, Harold Logsdon; Don Haddix, a private citizen received the letter; (b) Mr. Logsdon's letter did not claim defamation against the "Mayor;" it was against the individual Mr. Haddix; (c) A lawsuit was not filed against the "Mayor;" it was filed against Mr. Don Haddix.
“For Mr. Haddix to suggest that slanderous comments were city business just because they were sent via a city computer is arguable. It may be official city communications but it is not official city business. Ultimately, the content of the communication is what determines whether it was official city business or not.”

Let's hope GIRMA sees the error of its way and reverses its original decision.

PTC Observer
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Mr. Garlock - Words

Words like deeds have a way of coming back to hurt you. It's the old sayings that remain true: "The test of character is what you do when no one is watching."

I have never met Mr. Beverly, but I do believe he is an honorable man based on his words and on this issue I believe he is correct.

The council should reverse its action against Mr. Haddix that was made in haste, in the heat of the moment and apparently without legal counsel.

We are a nation of laws, not men.

pumpkin
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THANK YOU

Your comments seem to be the only one that makes sense.

Spyglass
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These pretzels are making me thirsty..

anyone else?

SPQR
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Cal

I admire your big picture perspective. I really believe the city council gave in to frustration and went down and met the mayor on the low road. " never get in the mud with a pig...". Council needs to back off, rescind there punitive action, get back on the high ground and then objectively investigate what transpired. The real problem is not the loss of 10k but what is broken that allowed it to happen. Once the entire scenario is brought out in the open corrective action can be taken.

Robert W. Morgan
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Violating oath = 5 years in prison?

Wow! I'm impressed how strongly you believe in your position on due process and the depth of your research.
I think that locking up the 4 who allegedly violated their oath of office would be a bit of overreaction, but have at it if you or Mr. Haddix plan to bring a constitutional complaint.

I guess Mr. Haddix stealing money from the city - yes, stealing, please sue me for libel, Mr. Haddix, please - that's not a violation of his oath of office? Huh?

It is so obvious in this whole thing that Haddix is problem and council is providing a solution. And they were trying to have a quick and easy solution that didn't cost an arm and a leg. If they have taken a constitutional shortcut, that makes for an interesting debate and a pretty good Mother and apple pie editorial. Fine. Now let Haddix force the issue with his lawyer if he can find him hiding under his bed with his phone unplugged.

Insayn
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question

With Imker making the statement calling Haddix a deceitful thief did he not commit the same infraction that started all this?

fay79isus
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Wonder if Mrosek would take

Wonder if Mrosek would take that case on a percentage---LOL... "Imker calls Haddix a thief." That's great.

PTC Observer
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Cal - I have

already said that you have convinced me, but where was Mr. Meeker on this? Why did he not give any guidance to the council on the issue?

In fact, I would say that Mr. Meeker was AWOL in the Haddix issue in that he did not bring the fact that Mr. Haddix was seeking reimbursement from the city for his legal bills. Of course, Mr. Haddix did not bring this up to the council either or the citizens of the city and his motives are transparent.

If you look closely at the billing statements from Mr. John Mrosek to Mr. Haddix you will see that demand letters were being written to two insurance companies including Mr. Haddix personal insurance company State Farm. Clearly the idea was to get insurance coverage as a personal matter. In addition you will see that on August 8, 2011 Mr. Haddix's attorney was preparing a letter statement on the censure move against him. A bill that was submitted as part of the liable suit now includes a letter on the censure issue.

Now I ask you Cal, what issue is really at play here? I would propose that it is the integrity and honesty of Mr. Haddix. It is also the poor judgement and failure to perform by the city attorney. Mr. Haddix should not be submitting bills for one thing and then slipping in bills for another. An oversight? Maybe, but given the furor over the issue I can't believe that these charges were simply "overlooked". I believe that what we have here is a realization by Mr. Haddix that he could railroad these charges through, and he did. He may in fact be "legal" but it does not make him ethical, honorable or working in the best interests of the citizens of this city. It makes him despicable in the eyes of his fellow citizens and neighbors. How he can actually show his face at another public meeting indicates just how self-absorbed and narcissistic he is.

He should be shunned.

I am convinced though on your point concerning the city council's actions against Mr. Haddix.

Robert W. Morgan
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Haddix is in charge and we are not.

Lots of words - most of all from Cal, but it is all opinion and conjecture. None of us including Cal have a dog in this fight - except the obvious standing taxpayers in PTC have as the injured party in the $10,000 theft of tax dollars. Haddix is in charge of the outcome. Let us see what he does.

So then, city council has acted, Haddix's pay is docked, he had made his "big surprise" threat and the rest of us are on the sidelines. Only one of the 2 major players in this can do something - Haddix can sue and resign or resign and sue to get his docked pay back. True he can use some of the arguments set forth by Cal and if he wins (fat chance) then there will be some case law that may influence elected officials in the future. Council of course can redo it's decision because Cal's comments frightened them and/or the city attorney (not a chance in the world). Those are the 2 most obvious proactive choices, but the 3rd and most likely choice is that neither party does anything at all and moves on and everybody just gets along - ala Rodney King. That too would create a precedent that what council did is ok. It would also create a lot of second-guessing and another editorial, but what else is new? Newspaper sales reach record heights.

Even having a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the vile little mayor to recover our money is now off the table because it is already being recovered every month thanks to city council.

So the fate of the free world and the U. S. Constitution rests largely with the tax dollar thief and the 4 vigilantes. I don't expect either party to do anything at all. Haddix will look into suing and may even take the first steps, but when he finds out that he will have to resign to pursue it, he will back off. He likes being mayor - even now. Yes, read that again - he likes being mayor, even now. That in itself should tell you something.

Oh yea, and if he does actually resign, there is no more pay to dock which means he's then become the target of a lawsuit to recover the money and likely legal fees paid by the plaintiffs - whether it be city council or a citizen's group. Rock and a hard place for the little frog, doncha think?