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Resolution eludes city, state AG
Deadline shifts to Aug. 30 for briefs
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Forsyth County News

The two sides in an open meetings dispute between Cumming’s mayor and the state attorney general failed to reach a resolution by the Friday deadline set by a judge.

Both Dana Miles, representing Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, and Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Sam Olens’ office, confirmed Friday afternoon that the parties had been unable to come to any sort of agreement on the matter.

After hearing arguments July 25, visiting Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Adamson gave the sides until Aug. 9 to resolve Gravitt’s alleged violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Law on April 17, 2012.

During the meeting of Cumming City Council that night, Gravitt asked that the camera of Roswell resident Nydia Tisdale be removed from council chamber as she was trying to record the meeting for use on a website.

Tisdale, in a separate federal suit that was filed after Olens’, has contended that she was forcibly removed on Gravitt’s orders by Cumming Police Chief Casey Tatum and, after returning to the meeting, was asked by another Cumming police officer to stop recording on her still camera.

Olens has contended that Gravitt’s action was a violation of the amended Georgia Open Meetings Act, which ironically had been signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier that day.

During the July 25 hearing, Kevin Tallant, representing Gravitt, contended that Olens’ civil case should be dropped. He said Gravitt has “sovereign immunity” in the matter since he was acting in his official capacity as mayor at the time.

Kelly Campanella, an attorney representing Olens’ office, pressed for summary judgment in the case.

After about five hours of arguments, Adamson instructed the parties to work together to try to come to a resolution.

He also said the parties could enter into mediation if either side deemed it necessary.

“We have requested that the attorney general engage in mediation as the judge suggested and they have declined, at least that’s my understanding,” Miles said.

Both parties now have until Aug. 30 to submit supplemental briefs to Adamson, who could then issue a written decision or request further discussion in an additional hearing.

“That is the judge’s call after we submit the briefs,” Kane said.