City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt — HB 397

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Nydia Tisdale
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City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt — HB 397

Post by Nydia Tisdale » April 17th, 2012, 11:37 pm

The AboutForsyth Forum
By Nydia Tisdale
April 17, 2012

City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt bans camcorder from public, city council meeting on April 17, 2012 — the same day Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 397 into law.

Citizen Nydia Tisdale and her camcorder are forcibly removed from the meeting room by city Police Chief Casey Tatum and Deputy Chief Walter "Clyde" Cook.

City of Cumming counsel Dana B. Miles stays silent while witnessing his client violate citizen Tisdale's rights under Georgia law.

Georgia Sunshine Law O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1. Open and Public Meetings Act. The public at all times shall be afforded access to meetings declared open to the public. Visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.



Clouds encircle city hall and birds chirp outside the auditorium moments before City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford GRAVITT, Asst. City Administrator Steve Bennett, councilmen Quincy Holton, Ralph Perry, Rupert Sexton, Lewis Ledbetter and John Pugh, city clerk Jeff Honea and city attorney Dana MILES hold their monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

[GRAVITT strikes the gavel.]
GRAVITT: It’s time to call the meetin’ to order. We’d like to welcome everyone to the April meetin’ of the Cumming City Council. First of all, a little house cleaning. Uh, Chief TATUM
[GRAVITT points at TISDALE.]
GRAVITT: — if you would, remove the camera from the, from the auditorium. We don’t allow filming inside of the City Hall here unless it’s specific reasons. So if you would, remove the camera.
TATUM: Move the camera outside.
GRAVITT: That’s the reason we don’t have Comcast up here on the wall. We don’t allow that in here.
TATUM: You’re gonna have to move the camera.
TISDALE: Respectfully, Mayor, Georgia —
GRAVITT: It’s not for —
TISDALE: — Sunshine Law —
GRAVITT: — discussion. Can I have the camera removed, please?
TISDALE: No, sir. Georgia law —
[TATUM picks up tripod with camcorder.]
TISDALE: I am exercising my right as a citizen —
[TATUM pushes TISDALE by the arm.]
TISDALE: — to record this meeting.
GRAVITT: You’re, you’re —
[TATUM and COOK push TISDALE by both arms out of the auditorium.]
TISDALE: Sir!
GRAVITT: you’re certainly —
TISDALE: This is an open and public meeting! I have a right —
GRAVITT: — able to record.
TATUM: Step outside.
TISDALE: — by Georgia law —
TATUM: Step outside.
TISDALE: — to film this meeting! Ask Dana MILES.
[MILES does not respond.]
TATUM: I —
TISDALE: Ask your counsel. Ask Dana MILES.
[MILES sits still.]
GRAVITT: You’re certainly able —
TISDALE: I have a right by —
GRAVITT: — to record it —
TISDALE: — Georgia law.
GRAVITT: — and take notes and record it.
TISDALE: There will be a complaint filed with Georgia Attorney General, not allowing me to film this meeting.
TATUM: Okay —
TISDALE: Take your hands off of me!
TATUM: — go file your complaint.
TISDALE: Take your hands —
TATUM: Step outside.
TISDALE: — off of me, sir!
TATUM: Step outside.
TISDALE [to TATUM and COOK]: Let me get my bag.
OFFICER: It’s right here, ma’am.
[OFFICER hands camera bag to TISDALE.]
TISDALE [to TATUM and COOK]: I’m sorry, [excuse me].
[TISDALE takes tripod, places in outside corner and returns to main auditorium.]
TISDALE: Uh, you are violating Georgia State Law.
GRAVITT: Thank you, very much.
TISDALE: Open —
GRAVITT: You’re —
TISDALE: at which —
GRAVITT: — certainly able to record it
TISDALE [to OFFICER]: Oh, okay, fair enough.
[TISDALE accepts bag from OFFICER.]
GRAVITT: — or you can take notes.
TISDALE [to TATUM and COOK]: Okay, very well.
TATUM: You’ve got —
OFFICER: Yeah.
TISDALE: This is illegal. You cannot close the meeting. I have a right by Georgia law and you should consult your counsel, Dana MILES. He is aware —
[MILES says nothing.]
GRAVITT: Thank you, very much.
TISDALE: — of Georgia state law.
GRAVITT: I’m ready to start the meeting.
[GRAVITT strikes gavel, again.]
GRAVITT: Again, thank —
TISDALE [to TATUM and OFFICER]: Okay —
GRAVITT: — everyone for being here —
TISDALE [to TATUM and COOK]: — I’ll turn it off.
GRAVITT: — this morning or this afternoon. Uh, if I could, I’d like to ask everyone to stand, please, and pledge the flag.
[Mayor GRAVITT, city council, “legal” counsel MILES, chief TATUM, COOK and audience all stand with hands over hearts.]
ALL: I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
[Everyone returns to their seat.]
GRAVITT: Thank you very much. First item of the agenda is....

Georgia Bar Exam Question: Who violated which law(s) and/or ethics rules in the Nydeo?

David Milum
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Cumming and Mayor Ford Gravitt in the news nationwide

Post by David Milum » April 18th, 2012, 7:27 am

Oh my goodness! This can't be good. We all know full well what comes next. Cumming and Mayor Ford Gravitt in the news nationwide. And attorney Dana Miles the idiot just sits there.

There are many pictures of Nydia being shoved around by City cops too....I'll give you all three guesses what is coming down the pike and the first two won't count. Rednecks at their worst folks....I am so embarrassed for the City of Cumming.

This on the same day Governor Deal signs into Law the new revised Open Meetings and Records Law. You absolutely can't make stuff up like this.

Congratulations Nydia as you are the first to test the new Law. Did I say this couldn't be good for the City?

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Nydia Tisdale
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Cumming violates citizen's right to videotape meeting‏

Post by Nydia Tisdale » April 18th, 2012, 9:42 pm

From: Nydia Tisdale
Sent: Wed 4/18/12 12:17 AM
To: Attorney General Sam Olens
Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter
Special Assistant Shiela Guider
Subject: Cumming violates citizen's right to videotape meeting‏

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt violates Georgia

City of Cumming Council Meeting
April 17, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.


Nydia Tisdale

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YouTube.com/nydiatisdale

770-594-2300 phone
404-316-8888 cell

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MAD JAX
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Legacy of Mayor Ford Gravitt ... what a shame

Post by MAD JAX » April 18th, 2012, 11:18 pm

I just watched it on the news a few minutes ago...and now I'm bummed...all I can think of is what shame the City of Cumming will come to endure for the Mayor's actions as-such...I truly feel bad about how this may come to be portrayed as the legacy of the otherwise great and noble tenure Mayor Ford Gravitt represents of the People of City of Cumming as their Civic Leader...it just can't be good...now just watch the likes of Oprah coming to town...and there-goes that whole "Mess up there in Forsyth County" thing again : /

I was really hoping to see a "Nydeo" produced of that particular City Council assembly for what discussion may have taken place amogst its Chambermen regarding the City-County Water situation too...now what does anyone know whom couldn't be there that otherwise wanted to : ?

There's only one good-side possible of this that I can imagine:

It's always darkest before the dawn

Then let's hope the light of the new-day to arrive brings reason and prudence to where there is clearly no good reason to be imprudent...at least that of capitulation in a sincere apology : !

(One could make Lemoncello from the Lemons...with the right mix of "Water" ; )
"Impossible" is a degree of difficulty set by imagination for lack of motivation.

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Nydia Tisdale
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Community activist’s camera shut off

Post by Nydia Tisdale » April 19th, 2012, 12:08 am

Community activist’s camera shut off

Forsyth Herald
By Aldo Nahed
April 18, 2012

CUMMING, Ga. — For months, activist Nydia Tisdale has recorded pretty much every meeting in Forsyth County — from yawners like the finance committee meetings to lively town hall meetings, sheriff's and commissioners' election debates.

On Tuesday, April 17, her video camera was turned off, but not by Tisdale.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt told Cumming Police Chief Casey Tatum to stop Tisdale from recording their April 17 meeting.

"We don't allow filming inside of the city hall," Gravitt said. "Unless there's a specific reason."

The incident is captured on Tisdale's camera and is fast becoming her most watched video on her YouTube channel.

As Tisdale and her camcorder are being escorted out of city hall chambers by police, she's heard asking city attorney Dana Miles to step in, but he remains silent on the issue.

Miles did not return a request for comments for this article.

"I'm exercising my right as a citizen to record an open and public meeting," Tisdale said.

But Gravitt stood his ground.

"It's not up for discussion," Gravitt said.

What's at issue is whether Gravitt has the authority to shut off someone's video camera at a public meeting. Several judges choose to keep cameras out of the courtroom, but is the mayor the same as a judge?

According to Georgia House Bill 397, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal coincidentally on April 17, "The public at all times shall be afforded access to meetings declared open to the public. Visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted."

Hollie Manheimer, executive director for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said the new and old version of the open meetings act permit camcorders at public meetings.

"Both the former version of the open meetings act, as well as the new law that was signed into law on April 17, permit citizens to videotape city council meetings and do any other type of taping, such as audio taping," Manheimer said.

Gravitt does permit photo cameras and audio recordings, and the city council meetings are video recorded by city staff, said Steve Bennett, assistant city manager.

The videos recorded by the city staff are available public record.

Tisdale, a Roswell resident, videographer and blogger for controversial site AboutForsyth, said she will file a complaint with state Attorney General Sam Olens and may further file a civil action against the city.

"A formal complaint has been filed," she told the Forsyth Herald the following day.

Tisdale did watch the rest of the meeting and even took pictures and audio recording.

Olens said he watched Tisdale's video and his office is sending a letter to the city of Cumming attorney. Olens said Tisdale was within her rights to take video of the meeting.

"The first thing we do when we open a file is send a letter requesting information from the governmental entity," Olens said, "if they seek to provide an answer to the allegation."

Image
Photo by Aldo Nahed

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Nydia Tisdale
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Camera Gets Woman Booted From Cumming City Council Meeting

Post by Nydia Tisdale » April 19th, 2012, 12:10 am

Fox 5 reporter Justin Gray came to Cumming City Hall to cover the story of Mayor H. Ford Gravitt banning Nydia Tisdale's camcorder from Tuesday's city council meeting — the same day Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 397 clarifying Sunshine Laws. Mayor Gravitt did not respond to request for comment. PHOTO: Brant Meadows.

Image


Camera Gets Woman Booted From Cumming City Council Meeting

By JUSTIN GRAY
Fox 5 Atlanta
April 18, 2012

CUMMING, Ga. - The attorney general's office is investigating after a woman was kicked out of a local city council meeting.

Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt ordered Nydia Tisdale to leave the council meeting on Tuesday because she was trying to film it.

"I was shocked and flabbergasted, very disturbed because I know what the rules are," said Tisdale.

Tisdale and her camera have become a familiar sight at public meetings across Forsyth County.

"I've filmed over 150 meetings and I've loaded them on YouTube," she said.

Georgia code and the state's Open Meeting Act the law are very clear, stating "…visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted."

The same day that Tisdale was kicked out of the Cumming meeting, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new Georgia "Sunshine Law" with even stronger protections for citizens.

Lauren Kane, the spokesperson for Attorney General Sam Olens, sent FOX 5 a statement saying, "We are aware of the situation and have opened a file. We will be sending a letter to the City attorney to get their side of the story. Under both the old sunshine law and the new law that was just signed by the Governor yesterday, video and sound recording of a public meeting are permissible."

"He took no interest in what I had to say, it didn't matter. The mayor is the law in city hall," said Tisdale.

Mayor Gravitt didn't return FOX 5's phone calls.

greenbaynative
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Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt considers himself above the law

Post by greenbaynative » April 19th, 2012, 9:38 am

That is what happens when a man considers himself above the law. The Police Chief should have known better as well as Gravitt. I think it is time to elect a new mayor and council...40 some years is enough.

David Milum
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Attack will haunt the City of Cumming for many years to come

Post by David Milum » April 19th, 2012, 11:09 am

It would be physically impossible to find a more respectable political documentor than Nydia Tisdale. Attacking her physically when she is only exercising her Rights will haunt the City of Cumming for many years to come.

I've seen many bobos in Forsyth County and the City but this episode will define the City of Cumming for a long time coming. This is sad day for us all. Clearly this demonstrates our hidden government and their hidden agendas in this area.

Speaking on things political Louis Brandeis quoted: "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

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Attorney General requests city's response on OMA complaint

Post by Nydia Tisdale » April 19th, 2012, 8:25 pm

Letter to City of Cumming attorney Dana Miles 04/19/2012

Corrected letter to City of Cumming attorney Dana Miles 04/20/2012

Image

Image
City of Cumming attorney Dana Miles at Tuesday's city council meeting.
PHOTO: Nydia Tisdale

Image

David Milum
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Attorney Dana Miles, licensed by Georgia Bar

Post by David Milum » April 19th, 2012, 8:53 pm

Gosh, City of Cumming Attorney Dana Miles how does it feel to get the spit slapped out of your mouth by the Attorney General's Office? Tell us what kind of award do you deserve for this? Or perhaps others might have some idea about that.

This should serve you well in your new resume wouldn't you think? Does the Bar Association of Georgia keep up with stuff like this?

Brant Meadows
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Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt should be ashamed

Post by Brant Meadows » April 19th, 2012, 8:59 pm

This letter from the AG's office is stern, to the point and leaves little to question. The AG's office affirmatively stands behind a citizens right to video. I am proud of Nydia Tisdale and Sam Olens. Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt you should be ashamed of violating the law and using illegal police force against Mrs. Tisdale without a lawful reason.

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MAD JAX
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Respectfully, Sir, perhaps It is now Time for a New Day

Post by MAD JAX » April 20th, 2012, 8:47 am

There are a lot of facets of the City of Cumming that need to embrace the 21st Century, not the least of which now appears to be the leadership of the City of Cumming ... We've got the new Courthouse and Public Safety Facilities coming in ... GDOT looks (or should be if it aint ; ) to construe improvements to State Hwy. 20, including a bypass of that dumb-assed dog-leg through the City of Cumming, in prudent enhancement of that "East-West Connector" that's been so badly needed for over a decade now ... and too, the extension of State Hwy. 400 at 4-lanes with "Limited Access" (NO Traffic Lite controlled intersections, but rather "On-Ramps") further North ... All done for considerations that include Forsyth County Population projections of growth exceeding a full Third-of-a-Million residents over the next twenty years.

We here in Forsyth County -- as a WHOLE, for well-including the City of Cumming -- must position ourselves TODAY in manners that best suit the procurement of what Quality of Life and Level of Service we wish our children (and theirs too!) may best exist within ... it is time for the Good Mayor of the City of Cumming to step down, and to do so in the most honorable way possible by acknowledgement of the success of his tenure, admit "Times have changed ..." for it, and then do what is truly best for the future of the entirety of Forsyth County ... and retire to spend out the Golden Years of his remarkable life with his family, etc. while remaining no less the "Concerned Citizen" he has truly ever been.

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Relentless
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Times have passed him by

Post by Relentless » April 20th, 2012, 8:58 am

8) I think that the city may have some nydiots running loose in their administration building.

MadJax -- I readily agree, times have passed him by.

It is a shame for him to end his career ingloriously.

Personally, I have considered Ford a friend over the years.

But, just like my Uncle Wally Moses who played and coached major league baseball for 40 years, Ford has just played one year to long to enter The Hall of Fame.

weisser59
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The people of City of Cumming will have to pay

Post by weisser59 » April 20th, 2012, 9:25 am

The bad thing is that the State AG will find that the City of Cumming was in the wrong and place a fine on them. The people of City of Cumming will have to pay it not the Mayor H. Ford Gravitt (He knows what he was doing!). A small slap on the hand!

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Reactions to AG letter to Dana Miles

Post by Nydia Tisdale » April 20th, 2012, 11:00 am

Focus on Forsyth County, GA

Brant Meadows Click on the first announcement to view the letter from the Attorney General's office to Cumming City attorney Dana Miles. It affirmatively supports a citizens right to video open meetings and leaves little to question. I am proud of Sam Olens and Nydia Tisdale for taking a stand against these shameful and unlawful actions by Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt. Thursday at 9:12pm near Cumming

Brant Meadows The AG might not be the only worries for the City of Cumming. What lawful right did Mayor Ford Gravitt have to asked Cumming Police Chief Tatum to remove the video camera? If the police chief did not have a lawful right to remove Mrs. Tisdale and her video camera then what?

Simple Battery
A common definition of simple battery is "use of physical force with the intent of harming a person." As the harm must be intentional for battery to occur, actual injury does not need to be physical, it may be emotional, financial, or verbal to be considered battery.

Georgia Code 16-5-23(a) states that "A person commits the offense of simple battery when he or she either:

(1) Intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or

(2) Intentionally causes physical harm to another."

This is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of one year incarceration and/or $1000 fine. Thursday at 9:24pm

Clark Montoya was this letter written today? Today is the 19th, yet the letter is dated the 11th, and refers to the incident which took place on the 17th. are am I nuts? Thursday at 9:40pm

Brant Meadows Good catch Clark Montoya. I saw a typo also. I am sure Nydia Tisdale has sent them a correction notice. The asst. AG should pay the typical $1 fine to Mrs. Tisdale for correction services.

What did you think about the wording of the letter? Didn't leave much wiggle room in that it identified that the mayor and his attorney were made aware of the law at the time of the violation since Mrs. Tisdale told them as they hauled her out. Seems like the Asst AG has identified willful and wanton behavior. Thursday at 9:48pm

Clark Montoya I saw a typo as well. Thursday at 9:53pm

Clark Montoya I think the letter was spot on as well. Not much wiggle room..... When is the next city council meeting? I wonder how many people we can get there with video cameras? this could be fun.... Thursday at 9:54pm

Deborah Tatum Storey ‎Clark Montoya I noticed the incorrect date on the first page of the letter too, however, page two correctly said April 19. Thursday at 9:55pm

Brant Meadows This portion of the letter says it all.
The Asst Attorney General writes to City Attorney Dana Miles, "....On the video Ms. Nydia Tisdale appears to have been forcefully removed from the meeting for attempting to record it. She does not appear to have been disruptive and seems to have attempted to inform the mayor of the law and asked him to consult with you about it....." Thursday at 9:58pm

Deborah Tatum Storey ‎Brant Meadows Clark Montoya Try to put yourself in the Chief's place being told by Mayor Gravitt to remove the camera from the room, how would you have responded? Thursday at 9:59pm

Clark Montoya I'm sure that was a difficult decision for the Chief.... Thursday at 10:05pm

Deborah Tatum Storey ‎Brant Meadows Clark Montoya Thanks guys. I think Chief Tatum did the only thing that he could do. Dana Miles did not do what he was suppose to do. And I guess you know that Casey is my nephew. I am really proud of him. He is a good policeman.
Thursday at 10:14pm

Brant Meadows ‎Deborah Tatum Storey, If I was in Chief Tatum's shoes and I was in charge of duty at the council I would know the law about what is and isn't allowed. Of course he would get fired if he didn't do as told. But he puts his career on the line for doing unlawful actions. Either way he loses. Thursday at 10:15pm

Brant Meadows It is all good Deborah Tatum Storey. Family is important and hopefully your positive influence will have an impact.

Not many people know but they will now. My great, great grandmother is Rebecca Mashburn. My grandmother was a Sullivan. I watched a homegrown local Mashburn just about fall out on the floor when they learned we were related. I had to give the genealogy. I never laughed so hard in all my life. Small world. Thursday at 10:32pm

Kim McAfee Pruitt-Musgrave ‎Brant Meadows So does that mean you are related to Wade Sullivan? Just Kidding : ) Friday at 12:16am

Pam Wilson Bowman I do not think this letter is real. One, too quick a response from the AG office and two, wrong date on the letter and too wordy and some mistakes. The AG would not send a letter with all of the errors. Anyone else skeptical? Friday at 8:07am

Brant Meadows As I understand it was obtained by the AJC, Channel 2 and one received by Mrs. Tisdale in the mail. I am not skeptical one bit. I am skeptical about the Mayor.
Friday at 8:10am

Bill Evelyn Who is relentless? Friday at 8:14am

Brant Meadows ‎Pam Wilson Bowman, What do you think about the Mayor using police force on innocent women and removing the video? What is your opinion on this matter? Friday at 8:21am

Pam Wilson Bowman Jody Moses is Relentless on About Forsyth website. Friday at 8:40am

Pam Wilson Bowman Brant I do not agree with this and it is not right for anyone to bully anyone , man or woman, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Friday at 8:44am

Pam Wilson Bowman Look all I am saying is I am skeptical of the letter and I gave my reasons...lawyers are usually much more brief in their wording. They are trained to be brief in their writings. Friday at 8:47am

Isaac Lang ‎Pam Wilson Bowman, I am not skeptical, it was written by a clerk or staff member. It may have been written using voice recognition software. Have you ever read a contract written by an attorney? Home loans at one time were two pages long, now they are approaching thirty pages due to legalese.

The best thing at this point that can be done is for the Mayor to offer a public apology and invite her to sit beside him on the bench at the next meeting and have the police chief run her camera. An apology to the State Attorney General is in order too for "acting" ignorant of the law. As for the City Attorney, he is on very thin ice working for both the county and city plus he needs to return a paycheck to the Mayor for not keeping his behind out of the fire. Friday at 8:55am

Deborah Tatum Storey I certain appreciate your comment but think the letter is real Pam Wilson Bowman. Lauren Cane, spokesperson, for the AG's office said in the FCN article that a letter was forthcoming yesterday. We see all the time even in the newspapers typos, grammatical errors and all sorts of mistakes. The date was correct on page 2 of the letter. The administrative person probably pulled up one of Dana Miles previous letters from the AG and did some copying and pasting or Mr. Ritter could have done it himself. Who knows but I am satisfied that the letter is real. I see no logic for it to have been fabricated. Friday at 8:56am

Brant Meadows ‎Pam Wilson Bowman, I just spoke with AG office. They say it is real and typos were being corrected. Do you still think it is a fake? Assuming the Mayor violated the law do you think he should be punished according to the law? Friday at 8:56am

Brant Meadows Does anyone of the 1433 members on this forum support the actions of Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt regarding the incident with Nydia Tisdale when he used police force without a lawful reason to prevent lawful audio and video recording? Friday at 8:57am

Martha Lappe Hi Brant Meadows. Our last common relative was born in the mid- 1700s, and I think the last Mashburn on your family tree, your great, great grandmother was born in the late 1700's. Interesting for you to mention your distant relationship, but then my husband says we're all related to Adam and Eve. Friday at 9:46am

Brant Meadows ‎Martha Lappe, Are you going to the Mashburn-Sullivan Reunion in Blairsville this year? I missed last year but hope to attend the next. I remember my Granny taking me as a youngster to Blairsville. I just love family reunions. ;) Friday at 10:05am

Pam Wilson Bowman After more research on my own I am no longer skeptical.
Friday at 10:11am

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