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East Point bucks Georgia Supreme Court
by Noreen Cochran
June 26, 2013 01:25 PM | 2951 views | 4 4 comments | 92 92 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite Mayor Earnestine Pittman recusing herself, protesting the vote was illegal, the East Point City Council approved payment of its legal invoices by a 5-0 vote at its special called meeting last week.

“To have a discussion, let alone a vote on legal invoices that is not an ordinance, amendment or supplementary transfer is in conflict with our charter as well as the [Georgia] Supreme Court ruling,” she said about striking legal invoices from city council agendas.

During the discussion that followed, council members Sharonda Hubbard and Marcel Reed said they would not support a motion, eventually delayed until the July 1 meeting, to allow City Attorney Corliss Lawson free rein to pay the invoices up to $75,000 out of her department’s $2 million portion of the $33 million general fund.

Invoices on the consent agenda, which is for items usually not requiring discussion, were for $66,000 for outside counsel by eight different law firms during the month of April.

Thursday’s session replaced last week’s regular meeting, at which Hubbard “was asked to be removed” and council members Lance Rhodes Jacqueline Slaughter-Gibbons walked out over disagreements “whether to adjourn” the June 3 council meeting, which had been reconvened June 17, according to city spokesman James Hammond.

Hubbard said at the June 20 meeting that City Manager Reggie Taylor is required to seek approval for any expense more than $25,000 out of his department’s $300,000 budget.

“Every other department comes before the council. Our own recourse is not to fund the legal department’s budget,” Hubbard said.

“There have been complaints from citizens regarding our legal fees. I will not give up my right to have oversight over departments that report directly to council.”

Lawson said it wasn’t the money; it was the potential exposure to the city.

“I don’t have a problem with you all looking at the invoices. The detail on them discloses attorney-client privileged communications. If you publish that to the world, it’s hard to defend the city,” she said.

Councilman Myron Cook suggested the deferral.

“I’m sensing some unrest up here,” he said. “If we vote tonight, this item’s going to fail.”

What's next? The city council will meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. at 1526 E. Forrest Ave.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Steve Thompson
June 28, 2013
The neighbor newspaper's coverage of East Point is pathetic. The is dispute has been brewing for two years. There have been court cases, trials, a burglary, contentious council meetings, and ethics complaints rights and left. This confused little article is the best the paper could do. The editor and reporter should be ashamed.
East Pointer
June 27, 2013
Agreed, what is the point of this article? It clearly ignores that Council Members on both sides of the conversation want to work to a solution that both provides oversight and is compliant with the law. Simply taking any staff member's recommendation without scrutiny is legislating through stupidity. I applaud both sides of the conversation for their desire for proper due diligence before making such a significant change in a city that has been blighted by corruption both by elected officials and staff.
East Point Resident
June 27, 2013
This rivals Mayor Pittman's rag in the CRAP department... wow... in fact, did Pittman write this herself and submit for publishing? I don't even understand the point that was trying to be conveyed...
June 27, 2013
What poor journalism. The backstory here is that the Mayor wants to sneak her own legal bills, which the council have repeatedly refused to pay, for her unsanctioned actions against the East Point Housing Authority for which a judge has already ruled against her.
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