By Monroe Roark
No official action was taken
at Monday night’s special called meeting of the Stockbridge City
Council, but it was hinted that the city might be going to court in
the near future.
Two items were on the posted
agenda for the meeting, and the first one – regarding the 2014
budget and organizational chart – was scrapped when the meeting
started. That left Item #2, which was listed as “potential
A vote was taken to go into
executive session for discussion of matters covered by
attorney-client privilege that could include disposition of property
and/or litigation, according to the items specifically cited by
councilman Alphonso Thomas in his motion. It soon became apparent
that the litigation discussion would likely revolve around the
Downtown Develop-ment Authority.
Immediately after the vote,
Councilwoman Robin Busch-man read a prepared statement regarding her
position as the council’s liaison to the DDA.
“I am first and foremost a
member of the City Council and was elected by the people to serve in
that position,” she said, adding that from now on she would not be
participating in any DDA discussion regarding potential litigation
because of a possible conflict of interest.
Thomas then made a motion to
exclude Buschman from the council’s executive session for the same
reason, and there was about 20 minutes of discussion on the matter.
Councilwoman Lakeisha Gantt
pointed out that the DDA no longer exists in the eyes of the city,
and during subsequent comments both she and city attorney Michael
Williams referred repeatedly to the “alleged DDA.”
Buschman reminded the rest of
the council that she had been elected by the voters and excluding
her would not be the right thing to do.
“You were elected to serve on
the City Council, not the DDA,” Thomas replied.
Councilman Anthony Ford also
commented on the seriousness of keeping an elected member of the
council from participating in the upcoming discussion, saying that
they were all “on the same team.”
The vote to exclude Buschman
was 2-2, with Thomas and Gantt in favor, and Ford and Richard
Steinberg against. That left Mayor Tim Thompson to break the tie,
and he hesitated a minute before asking Williams light-heartedly,
“How long do I have to make this decision?”
After some more comments from
Williams, Thompson said he would vote to allow Buschman to stay.
“We should all have the same
information,” said Thompson.
The mayor went on to say that
in recent weeks he had gone through a great deal of paperwork on the
matter and seen some things come to light that the rest of the
council might not even know about, and all of them deserved to know
“She should be allowed to go
and see what is in there, and then we can ask her what her position
will be going forward,” he said.
The council met in executive session for about
two hours before reconvening in public. Thompson announced that the
council had considered pending legal action, but there was no public
vote and no other comment before adjournment.