City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt — HB 397

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Nydia Tisdale
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Deliverance with a dental plan

Post by Nydia Tisdale » September 30th, 2013, 11:30 pm

Lawsuit in waiting pattern

Mayor asks judge to 'compel mediation'

ForsythNews.com
By Crystal Ledford
September 22, 2013 12:28 a.m.

It has become a waiting game for both sides in an ongoing open meetings dispute.

Attorneys representing Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and State Attorney General Sam Olens confirmed that they met the Aug. 30 deadline for filing submitted supplemental briefs in the matter with Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Adamson.

Both sides now await further direction from the judge, who has not established a specific time frame for resolving the case.

Adamson could issue a written decision or request further discussion in an additional hearing.

On July 25, the judge heard oral arguments in the case, in which Olens contends Gravitt violated the state’s open meeting laws on April 17, 2012.

During a meeting of Cumming City Council that night, Gravitt asked that the camera of Roswell resident Nydia Tisdale be removed from council chambers as she was trying to record it for use on a website.

Tisdale, in a separate federal suit that was filed after Olens’, has maintained that she was forcibly removed on Gravitt’s orders by Cumming Police Chief Casey Tatum and, after returning to the meeting, was asked by another Cumming police officer to stop recording on her still camera.

Olens has said Gravitt’s action was a violation of the amended Georgia Open Meetings Act, which ironically had been signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier that same day.

After the July 25 hearing, Adamson instructed both parties to work together to try to come to a resolution.

When they were unable to do so, he then instructed them to submit supplemental briefs by Aug. 30.

In those briefs, Kevin Tallant, an attorney representing Gravitt, said the defense has asked Adamson to “compel mediation” between the parties or to dismiss the case, which Tallant argued for during the July hearing.

Tallant said Gravitt, when acting in his capacity as mayor, has “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits under the Georgia Constitution, so the case should be dropped.

Attorneys representing Olens filed briefs in support of their original argument, which called for summary judgment.

Kelly Campanella, for the prosecution, argued during the hearing that Gravitt’s actions were a clear violation of the open meetings act and that sovereign immunity doesn’t apply.


3 COMMENTS

bug: September 22, 2013 1:09 a.m.
If you ware a shirt long enough it will ware out. The same as in a court case.

mosesdds: September 22, 2013 12:00 p.m.
How does this sound? Compel the City of Cumming and their officials to follow Georgia's laws.

faright: September 24, 2013 6:33 a.m.
Expecting anyone in Forsyth County government or the criminal justice system to adhere to the laws that are on the books is a bit like waiting for Godot - you want to believe it will happen but it never does. These people believe they are above and beyond the laws that the rest of us have to follow. Hopefully, when the old guard dies off some enlightenment will come to this county, but that is not likely to happen for a generation or two. Sorry I ever moved to this county. It's like Deliverance with a better dental plan.

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Nydia Tisdale
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AG Sam Olens Prevails in Lawsuit Defending Open Government

Post by Nydia Tisdale » September 21st, 2014, 10:00 pm

Attorney General Sam Olens Prevails in Lawsuit Defending Open Government

PRESS ADVISORY
Georgia Department of Law
August 26, 2014

On August 21, 2014, Judge Robert Adamson ruled in favor of Attorney General Sam Olens in a lawsuit filed in June 2012 against the City of Cumming and Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt for violations of the Open Meetings Act. Judge Adamson ordered the defendants to pay $12,000 in penalties, the highest amount possible under the law. Defendants have also been ordered to pay attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at a later hearing.

“This ruling is a major victory for government transparency,” said Olens. “Georgians deserve a government that operates openly and honestly. The essence of our democracy is that elected officials are held accountable to the citizens and that citizens are allowed to exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment.”

At a Cumming City Council meeting on April 17, 2012, Mayor Gravitt demanded that citizen Nydia Tisdale cease filming the meeting and subsequently ordered her to leave the meeting. Ms. Tisdale returned to the meeting with another hand held camera and was again told to stop recording the meeting. Georgia’s Open Meetings Act expressly provides that visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.

“My office takes very seriously our responsibility to enforce the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts," Olens added. "The actions by the mayor in this circumstance were egregious, and it is essential that he be held responsible for his actions.”

Attorney General Olens is a long-time advocate of open government. In 2012, he championed the first overhaul of Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records Acts in over a decade, which were signed into law with sweeping approval by the Georgia General Assembly. The revised sunshine laws are more user-friendly and provide tougher penalties for violations. Additionally, the updated law allows the Attorney General to bring civil actions for violations of the sunshine laws. This lawsuit marks the first civil action brought by the Attorney General under the revised law.

“The Georgia First Amendment Foundation (GFAF) is thrilled to see the ‘new’ open government law in action. Enforcement of the state’s Open Meetings and Records Acts are a critical component of the duties of the Office of the Attorney General, and we are delighted to see access rights preserved. We were particularly pleased by the use of the new civil penalties provisions of the new open government laws, and look forward to seeing more of these types of cases,” said Hyde Post, President of GFAF.

A copy of the order is attached.

OLENS V GRAVITT - ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MTN FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.pdf

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Nydia Tisdale
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Tisdale v. Gravitt — Order Setting Trial Date

Post by Nydia Tisdale » February 19th, 2015, 2:30 pm

ORDER SETTING TRIAL DATE

Image
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U.S. District Court

Northern District of Georgia

Notice of Electronic Filing

The following transaction was entered on 2/13/2015 at 1:08 PM EST and filed on 2/13/2015
Case Name: Tisdale v. Gravitt et al.
Case Number: 2:12-cv-00145-RWS
Filer:
Document Number: 107

Docket Text:
NOTICE setting Trial: Jury Trial set for 3/16/2015 at 09:30 AM in GAIN Courtroom 303 before Judge Richard W. Story. (rag)

2:12-cv-00145-RWS Notice has been electronically mailed to:

Dana Brent Miles dmiles@mphtlaw.com, rwilliams@mphtlaw.com

Dana Kristin Maine dmaine@fmglaw.com, ptapia@fmglaw.com

Gerald R. Weber wgerryweber@gmail.com, gweber@schr.org

Hollie G. Manheimer hmanheimer@mmolaw.com

Kathleen Sullivan Dod kdod@merbaumlaw.com

Kevin James Tallant ktallant@mphtlaw.com, asaunders@mphtlaw.com

Michael A. Caplan mcaplan@caplancobb.com, mgrant@caplancobb.com

Timothy Brandon Waddell bwaddell@caplancobb.com

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Nydia Tisdale
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TISDALE v. GRAVITT, CUMMING, TATUM, COOK

Post by Nydia Tisdale » December 26th, 2015, 6:30 pm

Image

NYDIA TISDALE, Plaintiff,

v.

MAYOR H. FORD GRAVITT, both individually and in his official capacity, CITY OF CUMMING, GEORGIA and POLICE CHIEF CASEY TATUM, both individually and in his official capacity as Chief of Police for the City of Cumming, DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF WALTER COOK, individually, Defendants.

Civil Action No. 2:12-CV-00145-RWS.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Gainesville Division.
September 30, 2014.

Read ORDER on Google Scholar link.

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Nydia Tisdale
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Forsyth activist, camera tossed from City Hall

Post by Nydia Tisdale » September 27th, 2017, 11:11 am

Forsyth activist, camera tossed from City Hall

Roots in Alpharetta
April 19, 2012 - Politics, Suburban Life
Written by S Lee Guy - 9 Comments

Image
Nydia Tisdale getting tossed from Cumming City Hall

Allow me to introduce Nydia Tisdale and the website AboutForsyth.com. I’ve always kept an eye on what’s being bantered around on this blog/forum. They practice a brand of online political activism that is very controversial at times. It’s not the kind of activism I strive to achieve here on Roots in Alpharetta but nevertheless I respect their views.

On Tuesday Tisdale attended a City Council meeting in Cumming and set up her video camera. As soon as Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt gaveled the meeting to order he instructed police to remove Tisdale and her camera. She kept the video rolling as she was tossed from city hall. The whole thing is on YouTube and I encourage you to watch.

The ironic part of this story is that it occurred on the same day Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill to strengthen Georgia’s open records law. Mayor Gravitt’s heavy-handed tactics are in clear violation of this law.

I mention this story as a way to stand behind Nydia Tisdale and her attempts to bring about openness in government. This story also serves as a reminder not to take for granted the cordial, professional and approachable relationship this blogger has with some in Alpharetta city government. I may take you guys to task from time to time, but at least I don’t have to deal with nonsense like this. For this I am grateful!

Photo credit: Aldo Nahed/Forsyth Herald




9 Responses to “Forsyth activist, camera tossed from City Hall”

A April 19, 2012 at 7:37 am #
Who does this mayor think he is? This is not a dictatorship last I checked. Thank you Lee for posting this.

Lee April 19, 2012 at 9:44 am #
Gravitt has been mayor for something like 30 years. Cumming is a small city, only about 5000 live in the city limits. But even with that, Gravitt has enormous political influence over Forsyth County through his control of water (which the county *must* purchase from him). He’s got them by the short hairs.

Maybe all that power goes to his head. Who knows. I expect the Attorney General to come down on him pretty hard over this issue.

Cool Papa Bell April 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm #
So getting press credentials–as I’ve done many times–shouldn’t apply to her? And this sweet lady is above the rules the rest of us have to follow, why again?

Mike April 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm #
Fun fact: You can’t even take a photograph from the House or Senate gallery when the legislature is in session.

Lee April 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm #
@Cool – The law says you don’t need press credentials. Anyone can photograph, video or record an open meeting.

K April 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm #
Shakes head…. but no longer in disbelief. We are a nation governed by the law of the jungle (might makes right) rather than the rule of law (as in Natural Law — moral law).

Kim April 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm #
There is a reason GA ranks tops in political corruption. Just saying.
Political Corruption: 8 States Earn Failing Grades
Grading the nation: How accountable is your state?

4Dees April 20, 2012 at 10:30 am #
Sounds like the people of Cumming need to “fire” their mayor and members of the city council. They seem to be taking advice on how to run govt. from the Obama administration…….closed and tyrannical. Thirty years as mayor is far, far too many years to serve as a “professional” politician.

Jake Lilley April 20, 2012 at 11:01 am #
Mayor Gravitt is a Fool. Thank you for taking a stand for political transparency!

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Nydia Tisdale
Posts: 5940
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 12:00 pm
Location: Roswell, GA
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WSB-TV: Activist to receive $200,000 after being kicked out of public meeting by Mayor H. Ford Gravitt 03/17/15

Post by Nydia Tisdale » October 23rd, 2017, 6:45 pm

Activist to receive $200,000 after being kicked out of public meeting

March 17, 2015
By Jovita Moore
WSB-TV

Nydia Tisdale sued the city of Cumming after Mayor Ford Gravitt had her…




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