City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt — HB 397

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Forsyth County Civil Service Board 03/10/11

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 9:50 pm

In the first video, Forsyth County Civil Service Board Hearing Officer and City of Cumming Attorney Dana Miles displays a disrespectful disregard towards the public and Georgia Sunshine Law when citizens David Milum and Brant Meadows distribute the little red booklet: GEORGIA'S SUNSHINE LAWS, A Citizen's Guide to Open Government. Complaints are lodged against a locked door limiting the public’s access to the meeting.

Forsyth County Civil Service Board 03/10/11 (36:24) March 10, 2011



Forsyth County Civil Service Board Hearing Officer and City of Cumming Attorney Dana B. Miles displays a disrespectful disregard towards the public and Georgia Sunshine Law.

Forsyth County Civil Service Board meeting March 10, 2011
Forsyth County Public Safety Complex, 3520 Settingdown Rd.

Citizens David Milum, Brant Meadows, Nydia Tisdale
Hearing Officer Dana B. Miles
Chairman Avery Y. Howell
Vice Chairman Terry Smith
Member John Blanchard
Clerk Charity Clark
FCN reporter Julie Arrington

Video by Nydia Tisdale for AboutForsyth.com.

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Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 9:52 pm

In the second video, Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt states at the joint City of Cumming Council and Forsyth County Board of Commissioners town hall meeting:

“We've had, uh, a lot of private meetin's, but I don't know of any secret meetin's we've had, but I appreciate, uh, the [laughter] the Board that’s been able to come across the street and I've come over here and us work on this, and I, and we have consensus of unanimous support for, uh, the projects that's been proposed by the county.”

Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt (14:08) July 21, 2011



Like Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, Brant Meadows parodies City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt in his SPLOST [Special Local Option Sales Tax] speech at the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners town hall meeting on July 21, 2011 in Cumming, Georgia.

Commissioners: I heard Brad Wilkins [www.CummingHome.com] request that the jail and courthouse be the only items on the SPLOST ballot and not the rest of the pork. I agree with fiscal responsibility.

The reasonable voice says: You do not have to do business with the City of Cumming on the SPLOST.

The unreasonable voice says: Let me remind you that City of Cumming buildings is paid for, yours is not.

The reasonable voice says: According to the SPLOST rules, Forsyth County can bypass the City of Cumming regarding tier one SPLOST projects like the jail and courthouse.

The unreasonable voice says: If you bypass the City of Cumming, the city will have to raise the alkyhol fees.

The reasonable voice says: If you bypass the City of Cumming, as allowed for in the SPLOST rules for tier one projects, that means you aren't required to get the permission of the City of Cumming.

The unreasonable voice says: The City of Cumming doesn't seem to have the infighting that you fellers have with the project list regarding Old Atlanta Road improvements.

The reasonable voice says: The City of Cumming is in agreement that they are ready to take the money if you will give it.

The unreasonable voice says: This ain't no blank check this time.

The reasonable voice says: The City of Cumming won't need to file any lawsuits this time because what the big print giveth the little print taketh away.

Video by Nydia Tisdale for AboutForsyth.com.

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Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt — HB 397

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 9:54 pm

In the third video, Mayor Gravitt directs Police Chief Casey Tatum:

“First of all, a little house cleaning, uh, Chief Tatum 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.”

Citizen Tisdale resists and two armed, uniformed, police officers forcibly remove her and her video camera from the auditorium. Tisdale returns to the meeting with her Sony video camera and tripod safely stowed. She takes photos and film clips with an Olympus camera.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt — HB 397 (3:50) 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. City of Cumming counsel Dana Miles stays silent while witnessing his client, the City of Cumming, violate citizen Nydia Tisdale's rights under Georgia law. Tisdale and her camcorder are forcibly removed from the meeting room by armed, uniformed, City of Cumming police officers.

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.

Video by Nydia Tisdale for AboutForsyth.com.

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Cumming City Council Meeting 04/17/12

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 9:56 pm

In the fourth video, obtained from the City of Cumming through an Open Records Act request, at time stamp 33:43, a police officer stops Citizen Tisdale from taking soundless, film clips on her Olympus camera.

Cumming City Council Meeting 04/17/12 (44:38) April 17, 2012



00:07 Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt orders Police Chief Casey Tatum to remove Citizen Nydia Tisdale's video camera while City Attorney Dana Miles does nothing.

33:43 Police Officer stops Citizen Tisdale from taking soundless film clips.

Councilmen Quincy Holton, Ralph Perry, Rupert Sexton, Lewis Ledbetter, John Pugh
City of Cumming Council meeting — April 17, 2012.

Video by the City of Cumming obtained by an Open Records Act request.

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Montage of downtown Cumming

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 9:58 pm

The fifth video is a montage of audios, photos, film clips and video taken in downtown Cumming.

An aerial map shows Cumming’s downtown square comprised of the following:
1. Forsyth County Courthouse
2. Parking Deck
3. Forsyth County Administration Building
4. Cumming City Hall

Driving from GA 400 Hospitality Highway, motorists’ first public parking opportunity is the parking deck. Walking from the parking deck, to the crosswalk at the stop light, pedestrians can enter all three governmental buildings from the street.

The City of Cumming website http://www.cityofcumming.net describes City Hall:

1. Cumming City Hall: “The recently erected Cumming City Hall & Clock Tower has become the face of downtown Cumming.”

2. Inside City Hall: “City Hall, completed in 2002, has become the new face of downtown Cumming.”

Public Notices of city council meetings note 100 Main Street as the meeting place. This address is posted above and inside the street entrance door which was locked before the city council meeting commenced at 7:30 p.m. The rear entrance from the employee parking lot bordered by Dahlonega Highway and Tribble Gap Road has no street address posted. Main Street is not visible from the rear, parking-lot, entrance door. The above-referenced web pages are captured in four screen shots and are attached herein.

In comparison, the Forsyth County Administration Building has two similar entrances at the street corner and parking lot locations. Both entrances are marked 110 East Main Street and both entrances remain unlocked during all public meetings, even after regular business hours.

Audio of the video camera altercation stems from two simultaneous sources and captures slightly different dialogue within the auditorium. The first version is from Tisdale’s video camera; the second version is from Forsyth Herald reporter Aldo Nahed’s recorder.

Someone suggested: “Take a picture.”

Citizen Tisdale cried: “Take your hands off of me! Take your hands off of me, sir!”

Police Chief Tatum charged: “Go file your complaint.”

Reporter Nahed witnessed: “I got a picture of the guy manhandling, but you were recording the whole time. I saw you.”

Mayor Gravitt adjourned: “If there’s no more business to come before this board, the chair would entertain a motion to adjourn. Second? All in favor signify.”

Hands were raised to God and the meeting was adjourned — before Mr. Miles told the Mayor that they needed an executive session. The meeting ended for the public, opened again in executive session, and then magically reopened, sans city or public cameras.

The “after-meeting” meeting was not included in the video provided by the City of Cumming. The Open and Public Meetings Act expressly prohibits public officials from conducting the public’s business without proper notice to the public.

Even if Mr. Miles told the Mayor the reason he required an executive session, the Mayor did not state a reason to enter into executive session. Respectfully, Mr. Miles does not sit on the City of Cumming Council. The Mayor runs the meeting as chairman and he must publically announce the purpose for said executive session. The video and audio recordings are irrefutable.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens championed House Bill 397 — effective upon signature by Governor Nathan Deal on April 17, 2012. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “New law lets more light in, Georgia’s open records act prods public officials toward transparency” in the article attached herein. To interpret the new law as more restrictive as to not allow joint video and sound recording is absolutely preposterous.

The Mayor, City Council and City Attorney have all been the focus of my camera before HB 397 took effect. Mayor Gravitt visibly displays displeasure of Tisdale’s camera at other meetings within the Forsyth County Administration Building. At the very first meeting Tisdale attends at Cumming City Hall — without even addressing Tisdale — the Mayor oversteps his authority to ban her video camera.

It is this writer’s belief that the Mayor’s actions were willful, deliberate and premeditated. The abuse of police power by Mayor Gravitt, the use of physical force by Chief Tatum and police officer, the silence of councilmen Quincy Holton, Ralph Perry, Rupert Sexton, Lewis Ledbetter, John Pugh and the inaction of Mr. Miles are all indefensible.

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Cumming City Attorney Dana B. Miles

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 10:00 pm

Cumming City Attorney Dana B. Miles (15:55) April 17, 2012



00:00 Cast of Characters
00:19 Nydia Tisdale's pre-meeting audio
00:29 Aerial map of downtown Cumming
00:38 Forsyth County Courthouse - aerial view
00:44 Parking Deck - aerial view
00:48 Forsyth County Administration Building - aerial view
00:53 Cumming City Hall - aerial view
00:58 Forsyth County, created 1832
01:03 John Forsyth, Governor of Georgia
01:13 Forsyth County Courthouse
01:17 Forsyth County Administration Building - street entrance
01:27 Forsyth County Administration Building - parking entrance
01:36 Forsyth County Administration Building - atrium
01:47 Main Street
02:05 Cumming City Hall Clocktower - the face of Cumming
02:10 Cumming City Hall - the face of Cumming
02:13 “That door is locked.” - Nydia Tisdale
02:16 Cumming City Hall - street entrance
02:18 Call meeting to order
02:20 Cumming City Hall - 100 Main Street
02:27 “First of all, a little house cleaning. Chief Tatum, if you would, remove the camera from the auditorium. We don't allow filming inside of the City Hall here unless it's specific reasons.” – Mayor H. Ford Gravitt
02:45 Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt - portrait
02:55 Inside Cumming City Hall - 100 Main Street
03:04 City Attorney Dana B. Miles - April 17, 2012
03:09 Hiram Parks Bell: Men and Things
03:20 Mayor's press conference - March 29, 2012
03:21 “Take your hands off of me! Take your hands off of me, sir!” - Nydia Tisdale
03:23 “Go file your complaint.”
03:39 City Hall - back of building
03:53 City Hall - parking entrance
04:00 Aldo Nahed's audio
04:16 Public Notice
04:20 “Take a picture.”
04:25 Inside City Hall - Carolyn Gravitt Memorial Fountain
04:44 City of Cumming Council
04:49 Mayor H. Ford Gravitt
04:54 Police Chief Casey Tatum and Citizen Nydia Tisdale
05:26 Start meeting and pledge the flag
05:37 Dr. Joe Moses and Randall Toussaint
05:55 City Councilman Quincy Holton
06:00 City Councilman Ralph Perry
06:24 Angie Mullinax
06:38 Film clips of Cumming City Council meeting
06:39 Recognition for Patrol Officer Daniel Hester
07:45 Cumming Playhouse announcements
08:25 Adjournment
08:32 Executive Session called after meeting adjourned
08:46 Dr. Joe Moses, Nydia Tisdale, Aldo Nahed
10:02 City Councilman Rupert Sexton
10:07 City Councilman Lewis Ledbetter
10:11 City Councilman John Pugh
10:49 SPLOST VII Town Hall Meeting - July 21, 2011
10:55 Forsyth County Board of Commissioners - July 21, 2011
10:59 City of Cumming Council and Mayor - July 21, 2011
11:13 David Milum and Brant Meadows - July 21, 2011
11:18 $11.4 million water bill - January 5, 2012
11:23 Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam - April 12, 2012
11:28 Cumming Public School - historic landmark
11:38 Cumming Playhouse
11:58 Tam's BackStage Restaurant
12:02 SPLOST VII Project Team meeting - April 25, 2012
12:25 “I got a picture of the guy manhandling, but you were recording the whole time. I saw you.” - Aldo Nahed
12:40 Fox 5 News
12:55 SPLOST VII Project Team kick off meeting - March 8, 2012
13:05 Sam Olens, Attorney General of Georgia
13:09 Forsyth County Commissioner Patrick Bell
13:14 No more unBellievable excuses
13:19 Nydia Tisdale - January 6, 2011
13:24 Video camera
13:28 “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” - Louis Brandeis
13:33 Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade - July 3, 2010
13:42 Nathan Deal for Governor - July 3, 2010
13:47 Pete Amos for Commissioner - July 3, 2010
13:52 Todd Levent for Commissioner - July 3, 2010
14:16 Forsyth County Civil Service Board - October 13, 2011
14:22 CSB John Blanchard, Terry Smith, Avery Howell - October 13, 2011
14:26 Clerk Charity Clark, Dana B. Miles - October 13, 2011
14:30 Hearing Officer Dana B. Miles - October 13, 2011
14:35 Cumming, Georgia - Gateway to Leisure Living
14:40 Forsyth County water tower
14:48 Candidate Cindy Jones Mills - April 16, 2012
14:57 Forsyth County Board of Commissioners - Patrick Bell, Todd Levent, Jim Boff, Pete Amos, Brian Tam - May 3, 2012
15:25 Candidate Tim Hubbard - April 16, 2012
15:46 County and city attorney Dana B. Miles - January 13, 2012

-----

Video production and film clips by Nydia Tisdale for AboutForsyth.com.
Audio by Nydia Tisdale, and Aldo Nahed for Forsyth Herald.
Photos by Nydia Tisdale, Aldo Nahed, and Liz Kennedy for Cumming Patch.
Aerial map by Forsyth County GIS Department.

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CITIZEN’S ONLINE COMMENTS

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 1st, 2012, 11:15 pm

Citizen’s online comments call into question the city’s actions.

Deborah Chambers » April 20, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. on Focus on Forsyth County, GA
What the heck? Brant [Meadows] and Jody Moses, I thought Cindy responded clearly in her response. Why are y'all dragging it out? All of us support Nydia Tisdale. It's clear by law that Nydia should not have been banished from the meeting. She's provided videos from many meetings within the County for all of us here on FOF. We've all appreciated Nydia videos including Cindy Jones Mills. The Mayor was wrong and we all know it, not based on our own opinions, but based on law. There were a lot of educated people in attendance at that meeting ... Someone should have been stepping up and saying ... leave her alone, she's allowed to video this meeting based on law. It didn't happen and now the City will have to deal with it. The City policeman was following orders and was placed in the middle of the controversy.

Jake Lilley » Friday, April 27, 2012 at 4:39 a.m. on Roswell Patch
Thank you to Ms. Tisdale for acting as an agent of transparency. Citizens and public interest are not “debris” to be swept aside by the ruling class.

Nydia Tisdale » Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 2:47 p.m. on Focus on Forsyth County, GA
City of Cumming claims Police Chief Casey Tatum did not touch Nydia Tisdale despite her screams, "Take your hands off of me!"

Cumming stands by removal of blogger with camera

Bill Mulrooney » Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 3:09 p.m. on Focus on Forsyth County, GA
Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I read this as the city feels since they videotape the meeting, they can kick any other camera out? So as long as the government controls the camera, the on/off switch, and the ability to edit the final product, then they have no problem recording it. But if a mere citizen tries to videotape a meeting the Mayor will kick them out?

Jody Moses » Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 8:02 p.m. on Focus on Forsyth County, GA
Does the city have the video of the last part of the open meeting when the mayor and council changed the vote and adjourned the meeting?

Brant Meadows » Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 9:11 p.m. on Focus on Forsyth County, GA
Jody Moses, clearly, from reviewing the video of the infamous city council meeting, the meeting was adjourned. Miles’ assertion that some magical new method exists to bring the meeting back from adjournment is silly. There is a motion to adjourn and a second, then call for vote and a majority of hands [were] raised. The meeting was over. Miles may have voiced a concern, but the words and actions on the video do not lie!

From Miles’ letter to the Attorney General, "The City then took up a final agenda item and the Mayor asked for a motion to adjourn. Before the Mayor could finish calling for the vote, I reminded the Mayor of the need for an executive session to discuss pending litigation — contrary to the assertion in the complaint, the City Council did not adjourn for the evening but rather for executive session."

Jody Moses as Relentless » Sunday, May 6, 2012 12:04 a.m. on AboutForsyth
TWO QUESTIONS: 1) Does the city have a video of the last part of the meeting (after the executive session) with the mayor restating his motion, the vote on said motion, and the adjournment of the meeting after the vote?

2) So, cameras are not allowed in the auditorium due to being a safety hazard? But, admittedly the front door was locked, and this is not a safety issue? The fastest way out of the second floor auditorium (especially in case of fire) is down the main stairway and out the front door — that is unless it is locked. To exit thru the unlocked parking lot door, which is two levels below the auditorium, you would have get down the main stairway, find the stairway from the first floor to the parking lot level, get down it, then out the door.

And by the way, this would all be taking place while the Forsyth County Fire Department (Cumming depends on Forsyth County for fire protection) is trying to enter the locked front door. Hmmm, the locked front door seems to me to be a lot bigger safety issue than a camera in the auditorium. Of course, the Forsyth County Fire Chief would have the final answer on that.

Isaac Lang » Sunday, May 6 at 6:37 a.m. on Focus on Forsyth County, GA
I hope Nydia Tisdale remembers to tell the AG how the meeting ended for the public, opened again in executive session, and then reopened, sans city or public cameras, to deal with one last agenda unannounced. This is exactly why the state legislature passed the open records act to begin with just to prevent elected officials from doing business behind closed doors outside the prying eyes of the public just like this.

Mark Weiss as weisser59 » Monday, May 7, 2012 10:37 a.m. on AboutForsyth
QUESTION: Why has the Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn not filed charges on Cumming Chief of Police? He committed a crime. Is she going to do her job?

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Outraged city council docks mayor's pay to $75

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 14th, 2012, 6:00 pm

Outraged city council docks mayor's pay to $75

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Edward Mitchell
June 14, 2012

The city council of Peachtree City has cut its mayor’s monthly pay from $750 to $75, sparking a heated public debate. According to The Citizen newspaper, council members reduced Mayor Don Haddix’s pay to offset the nearly $10,000 the city paid an insurance company to cover his legal fees. Haddix incurred the fees while defending himself in a libel suit.

An outraged city council member told The Citizen that Haddix is responsible for the cost, but the mayor argues that the city should have paid because he made the allegedly libelous statements while acting in his official capacity. Haddix might now sue the council or resign, the Citizen reported Thursday.

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Nydia gets booted from city meeting!

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 28th, 2012, 8:15 am

Author: tabadmin
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:55 pm
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:17 pm

Roswell political activist, Nydia Tisdale, gets ejected from city council meeting. Mayor Gravitt has the balls to not put up with this oddity from our neighboring county.



Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I only wish the Commissioners had the fortitude to get her out of here. She is nothing more than a nuisance, costs the taxpayers so much in wasted time and loves nothing more than to create havoc here.

WAY TO GO
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Posts are our opinion of the characters.
-- Some may be true, others we don't know. Based on Forsyth County stories and documents. In the end, you'll have to be the judge.

_________________________________________________________________
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City files response to lawsuit

Post by Nydia Tisdale » July 26th, 2012, 9:30 pm

Cumming sued by state AG over meeting act

ForsythNews.com
By Crystal Ledford
Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office has received a response from the city of Cumming regarding a lawsuit filed in June.

Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman with the office, confirmed that the response was received by the office Thursday afternoon.

Attorney General Sam Olens filed the suit against Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and the city as a result of an incident that occurred during a Cumming City Council meeting April 17.

Nydia Tisdale, a political activist from Roswell, and her video camera were removed from the meeting on Gravitt’s orders, according to the lawsuit.

She was also reportedly told that video recording was not permitted and later than she could not record the meeting on her still camera.

Olens has said that Gravitt’s actions during the meeting were violations of Georgia’s recently passed Open Meetings Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal on the day of the incident.

The new law, as well as the old, both state that video and audio recordings are permitted during public meetings.

Kane said Olens filed the suit after “trying to negotiate with the city attorney and [the parties] were never able to come to a resolution.”

City Attorney Dana Miles did not comment on Thursday’s response, citing his firm’s policy not to comment on ongoing litigation.

Miles did provide a copy of the response, however, which contends that since Gravitt was acting in his official capacity as mayor at the time of the incident, under the Georgia Constitution, he has “sovereign immunity.”

“Both the City of Cumming and Mayor Gravitt fall within the penumbra of sovereign immunity provided for by the Georgia Constitution,” the response states.

The response goes on to quote portions of the state Constitution: “…officers and employees of the state or its departments and agencies shall not be subject to suit or liability, and no judgment shall be entered against them, for performance or nonperformance of their official functions.”

The response argues that since Gravitt was “presiding over a meeting of the governing authority of the City of Cumming” he was acting in an official function.

“The City and Mayor Gravitt have been sued by the Attorney General in a civil action under the newly enacted House Bill 397 despite their Sovereign and Official Immunities. The parties are uncertain and insecure with respect to their rights and obligations in this matter,” the response states.

Kane said attorneys with Olens’ office will now enter into a process called discovery.

“That means exchanging documents and going through, kind of like a research process to see what the claims are [in the response],” she said.

Tisdale also filed a civil suit in federal court in June against Gravitt, as well as Police Chief Casey Tatum and Deputy Police Chief Walter Cook, who she alleges physically removed her from the meeting room.

City attorneys have not yet filed a response in that lawsuit.

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Cumming challenges new sunshine laws

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 3rd, 2012, 2:10 pm

Cumming challenges new sunshine laws

The Daily Report
By Kathleen Baydala Joyner
July 30, 2012

The city of Cumming is challenging the constitutionality of the state's new sunshine laws in response to an open meetings suit by state Attorney General Sam Olens against its mayor.

Olens' suit, the first under the state's new Open Meetings and Open Records acts, alleged that Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt and police officials barred Nydia Tisdale from videotaping a city council meeting.

House Bill 397, which went into effect April 17 — the day of the alleged incident — provides for visual and sound recordings of public meetings and authorizes the attorney general to bring civil suits against violators.

The AG's complaint cites two counts and asks the court to impose the maximum civil penalties allowed under the new laws, $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent one. (Tisdale filed a separate civil rights suit in federal court in mid-June

The city responded to the AG's suit on July 19, arguing that Gravitt was presiding over the meeting in his official capacity and is protected under the Georgia Constitution's sovereign immunity doctrine. The city contemporaneously filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment.

"With respect to the sovereign immunity of the city of Cumming, the Georgia Constitution provides, in pertinent part: '(t)he sovereign immunity of the state and its departments and agencies can only be waived by an act of the General Assembly which specifically provides that sovereign immunity is thereby waived and the extent of such waiver,'" the city's filing stated. "All of the enforcement provisions of House Bill 397 are silent with respect to the issue of sovereign immunity."

Neither the city's attorney, Dana Miles with Miles Patterson Hansford Tallant, nor Olens would comment Friday on the suit.

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Ga. town challenges state's new open meetings law

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 3rd, 2012, 2:15 pm

Ga. town challenges state's new open meetings law

The Associated Press
AP State Wire News
July 30, 2012

CUMMING, Ga. -- A Georgia city is challenging the state's new sunshine laws in response to an open meetings lawsuit state Attorney General Sam Olens filed against its mayor.

The Fulton County Daily Report (http://bit.ly/MVI04x) reports that Olens' lawsuit is the first under Georgia's new Open Meetings and Open Records acts.

The lawsuit states that Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt and police barred Nydia Tisdale from videotaping an April 17 city council meeting. The new law, which went into effect the same day, provides for visual and sound recordings of public meetings and authorizes the attorney general to sue violators and seek penalties.

The city responded to the lawsuit on July 19, arguing that Gravitt was presiding over the meeting in his official capacity and is protected under the Georgia Constitution's sovereign immunity doctrine.

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Daughters of the American Revolution recognized by Cumming

Post by Nydia Tisdale » September 30th, 2012, 10:30 pm


City of Cumming Council meeting September 18, 2012 and Development Authority of Forsyth County meeting September 20, 2012 (cancelled for lack of quorum).

0:00 If you would, stand and take off your hat and let's pledge the flag, please.
0:40 Daughters of the American Revolution recognized by Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and the Cumming City Council during Constitution Week of September 17 to September 23.
5:30 Angie Mullinax thanks Nydia Tisdale for photos.

Nydeo by Nydia Tisdale for AboutForsyth.com.

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Attorney General Sam Olens responds to Mayor H. Ford Gravitt

Post by Nydia Tisdale » January 19th, 2013, 2:00 pm



Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens responds to City of Cumming Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt’s phony phone call in a single word: “LAWSUIT.”

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Senior Asst. Attorney General Stefan Ritter on Cumming case

Post by Nydia Tisdale » February 23rd, 2013, 8:32 pm



Okay, so what does the Open Meetings Act require?

Well, of course, the first thing it requires is that you have to have them be open. That means the public and the press get to attend, as I said, not necessarily to participate. It's great if they allow questions, but that's not what state law requires.

And they're entitled to record the meeting. The law is very clear about this. You're entitled to video record, audio record a meeting, take photographs during the meeting.

We've got a case as I mentioned before going on where the City of Cumming did not allow that. They disagree about the outcome, so the case is in litigation, but I will tell you that this was a case where they asked a young woman who was recording the meeting, to stop recording the meeting, and, unfortunately, she recorded them saying: “You're not allowed to record the meeting.”

So, I think we have a good case. They may think they maybe have a good case. This is not their side of the story, but, you know, the law is plain that you are allowed to video record the meeting.

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