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AboutForsyth.com • View topic - Ga. AG Sam Olens v. Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt — Thursday
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Ga. AG Sam Olens v. Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt — Thursday

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Ga. AG Sam Olens v. Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt — Thursday

Postby Nydia Tisdale » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:00 pm





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Forsyth County Courthouse parking information

Postby Nydia Tisdale » Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:15 am



The parking deck in downtown Cumming has been demolished.

Jurors and others doing business at the Forsyth County Courthouse should use the parking lot at the southwest corner of Maple Street and Castleberry Road.

Parking areas for both the public and for county employees are designated at the County Administration Building.

Additional weekday parking from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the public and for county employees is available at Cumming Baptist Church (spaces marked with a red dot only).

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Oral arguments scheduled 9 a.m. Thursday, July 25

Postby Nydia Tisdale » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:00 pm



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
12:00 a.m. Sunday, July 21, 2013
By Pat Fox

The small city of Cumming is facing a double-fisted fight with Attorney General Sam Olens over an alleged open-meetings violation last year.

The attorney general has threatened to level “six-figure” attorneys’ fees against the city for tossing a woman from a city council meeting last year after she refused to turn off her video camera.

The case has garnered national attention on news websites, not only because it is the first test of Georgia’s new open-meetings law, but because of the videotape of the incident and subsequent antics of longtime Mayor Ford Gravitt.

Oral arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in Forsyth County Superior Court.

City officials did not respond to requests for comment but have argued the incident occurred the same day, April 17, 2012, that a revised open-meetings law was signed, and there may have been confusion as to what it allowed. Gravitt also told reporters he was concerned the camera and tripod, operated by Roswell activist Nydia Tisdale, may have presented a safety issue in the council chambers.

In filings with the court, the city is arguing it has sovereign immunity in the case, a legal protection meaning it is immune from civil and criminal prosecution.

But Olens said audio and video recording had been allowed under the old law and are still allowed under the revised law. What has changed, he said, is that governments found in violation can now be assessed attorneys’ fees as well as fines, and those can mount into six figures.

“We had numerous emails and conversations with the city attorney seeking to do what we regularly do, which is to resolve these disputes,” Olens said. “They could have signed a document approved at a meeting and been done with it.”

Instead, what the mayor did next made Cumming the only government in Georgia facing an attorney general’s lawsuit.

At a city council meeting a month after the incident, Gravitt received a phone call while presiding. He told the audience it was the “attorney general wanting to know if we were having an illegal meeting.”

It wasn’t.

“That to me is not taking Georgia law seriously,” Olens said. “This is not a personal issue at all. It’s a legal issue, and I expect all local governments to comply with the Sunshine Laws.”
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City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt

Postby Nydia Tisdale » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:50 pm


Mayor Gravitt kicks camera out of April 17, 2012 Cumming city council meeting.

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Georgia Attorney General calling Cumming Mayor Gravitt

Postby Nydia Tisdale » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:15 pm


Mayor Gravitt claims the attorney general called at the May 22, 2012 city council meeting.

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Shame on the City of Cumming

Postby Relentless » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:37 pm

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Re: Ga. AG Sam Olens v. Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt — Thur

Postby McJourno » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:41 am

Ah Relentless:

You asked why didn't the city invoke sovereign immunity in the dispute with the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR).

Here comes your answer:

Because the group is not a division/entity of Georgia government. It is an "advocacy organization," according to the group's PR people.

The sovereign immunity argument suggests that divisions of Georgia government cannot sue other divisions for damages unless the parties waived their right to immunity by agreement. UCR is not a government entity and thus sovereign immunity is irrelevant.

Might I suggest you actually listen to Mr. Tallant's argument about sovereign immunity during the hearing last week without the filter of hate and rage you feel for the mayor or city government. Read the cases and statute Mr. Tallant cites and then reassess your feelings.

"Turn away from the dark side, Luke."
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