The Stockbridge city council attended to crucial business during the executive session at last night’s city council meeting — tackling allegations against Stuart.
The council voted four to one against the mayor on the six items presented by investigator Christopher Balch and thus removed him from office.
“Voting for the removal of the mayor were Mayor Pro Term Mark Alarcon, Councilman Richard Steinberg, Councilman Harold Cochran and Councilwoman Robin Buschman,” City Treasurer David Milliron said. “Council-man Alphonso Thomas was the descending vote on all seven counts.”
Although originally, seven charges were presented to the council by Balch, only six were agreed upon — charges one, two, three, four, six and seven.
The six charges voted upon, all in violation of the city charter, include allegedly attempting to monitor the email accounts of specified city employees without authorization, the alleged violation of the civil rights of employees — directly in line with Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin and the 14th Amendment of the constitution — violation of state law when he allegedly revealed and disclosed personal and confidential information protected by the Georgia Open Records Act, alleged violation of city ordinance by obtaining confidential and personal information on city employees or applications for city employment, allegedly disclosing security information concerning the municipal court, which is made confidential by state law and allegedly failing to adequately investigate the background of a consultant whose employment cost the city nearly $60,000.
The seventh charge, noted as the fifth charge within documentation and not concurred upon, stated that Stuart vio-lated the city charter by neither preparing nor submitting to council an annual budget for fiscal year 2013.
To determine the charges, 17 witnesses were interviewed and more than 2,000 pages of documents were re-viewed.
According to Milliron, the council deliberated for two hours in executive session before electing to remove the mayor on the six of seven counts of violations of the city charter, as well as state and federal laws.
Mayor Pro Term Mark Alarcon said the residents should be aware that there is a process to be followed.
Stuart, should he so desire, has the right to contest and appeal the decision carried out by the council, first to the Henry County Superior Court.
“It’s not to judge whether the court believes that the mayor violated any of the six items that were voted on,” said Alarcon.
Alarcon said instead, two items will be evaluated should Stuart appeal the decision.
The two items include whether the council upheld the law according to the laws of the state of Georgia and if any-thing was done to deny the mayor to defend himself or properly present his case.
Alarcon reassured the residents that although a hard decision was made by the city council, the best interest of the city and its residents remains at the forefront.
“It was difficult to do what we did last night,” he said. “We ask our citizens to realize that it is not a personal issue as many have tried to make it. Let’s give the process time to validate what we have done or vindicate [Stuart]. In the meanwhile, the business of the city and the needs of our citizens need to be taken care of. The city is the entity that ultimately matters.”