Senoia ethics complaint dismissed

Thu, 09/24/2009 - 2:22pm
By: John Munford

Council follows committee recommendation

An ethics complaint lodged against Senoia City Councilman Jeff Fisher was formally dismissed by the City Council Monday night.

Council voted 4-0, with Fisher abstaining, to follow the recommendation from the city’s ethics committee that the complaint be dismissed.

The person who filed the complaint, Heritage Pointe resident Don Rehman, had requested the opportunity to address council before its vote, but council also denied that request on a 4-0 vote with Fisher again abstaining.

Rehman’s complaint in part was due to a series of emails authored by Fisher that were posted on the community’s bulletin board. Rehman said the emails were “abusive, offensive and devastatingly harmful” with intent to “humiliate and shame” him in his own neighborhood.

Rehman has regularly spoken to council about line of sight concerns and the potential for traffic accidents at the subdivision’s Rockaway Road entrance. The city has undertaken some changes for the intersection to improve sight distances.

Rehman also questioned comments Fisher made to him during a city council meeting in which the veracity of Rehman’s support for the intersection modification was questioned.

According to The Citizen’s notes of the meeting, Fisher suggested to Rehman that if he wanted to “expedite” resolution of the problem, it would help him to have a show of public support.

Moments before Fisher’s comments, Councilman Bobby Graham had questioned the support for the project which Rehman had claimed from a number of residents in Heritage Point. Graham said he wanted Rehman to encourage those residents to come address council themselves.

“You signed it ‘we of Heritage Pointe’ and when you go ... to the county to speak a petition might be more suitable in nature to benefit your cause,” Fisher told Rehman during the July 20 exchange.

Rehman took offense to the comments at the meeting and told the council “the people feel strongly believe me. If you want the chamber filled believe me I’ll go and do it.”

The ethics hearing featured testimony on behalf of both Fisher and Rehman, with some saying that Rehman spoke for them and others saying could be verbally intimidating and threatening.

Following the ethics hearing, ethics committee member Paul Ferguson said if Fisher was out to harm Rehman it would have been an ethics violation.

“But I don’t think it was intended to harm. He was trying to follow the code,” Ferguson said immediately prior to the motion and the committee’s unanimous vote to dismiss the complaint.

In other business Monday, Council voted 4-1 to approve a proclamation regarding the 2010 Census as part of an effort to make sure everyone is counted.

The vote against the proclamation came from Councilman Bobby Graham, who said he was concerned about a report that the White House would be taking over the Census administration.

“I just want to know before we start saying we’re going to sign on and go along with it, who’s going to be in charge?” Graham said.

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