Former Mayor Grogan upbeat despite court ruling

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Former Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan was surprisingly upbeat Wednesday despite the fact that Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller ordered him to pay the city $25,060.88, the salary and benefits he received from the city while he appealed his impeachment.

Grogan said he was disappointed but not surprised by the judge’s ruling and he remained optimistic.

“We have an election coming up Tuesday that can make that go away,” he said.

Grogan is running to regain his seat as mayor in Tuesday’s special election against the man who replaced him, Mayor Mike Eason.

He was voted out of office last May by three city council members who allege he violated the city charter.

He said the reason for his optimism is the feedback he has received from the voters.

“I’ve gone door to door and I haven’t heard a single negative comment,” Grogan said. “I feel like the citizens will do the right thing and return me to office. They have heard all this stuff before, and they know I’ve tried to do the right thing and stay above the fray. I believe they are going to vote me back in office.”

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Secrecy surrounds “mishandled funds” complaint

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City Manager Bob Bolz

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – One month after the City of Dawsonville filed a complaint with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office regarding “mishandled funds” during former Mayor James Grogan’s administration, city officials have kept the details of that complaint a closely guarded secret.

Taxpayers have been kept in the dark regarding how their money was mishandled and how much money is involved.

City Manager Bob Bolz responded to Fetch Your News open records request (ORR) last week in an email that stated: “Because of certain information pertinent to the investigation revealed in the (complaint), that information was deemed confidential by our attorneys.”

The City’s failure to disclose details of the complaint has raised serious questions about the validity of the complaint and especially its timing, coming just weeks before the special election that will decide if Grogan is to regain his seat or be replaced for the next four years by interim Mayor Mike Eason. Advanced voting has begun and Election Day is March 20.

Former Mayor James Grogan

City Council members Angie Smith, Caleb Phillips and Jason Power voted last May to remove Grogan as mayor for alleged violations of the city code and policies. The decision was not popular with voters and may have cost Smith her seat on the Council. She was voted out of office in November.

Grogan has maintained from the beginning that he has done nothing wrong and the complaint of “mishandled funds” is politically motivated.

“It is a politically-motivated witch hunt,” Grogan said. “But I believe the voters will see it for what it is.”

In fact, Grogan doubts there is any investigation. “I believe they filed the complaint just to hurt me. It’s been almost a month since the complaint was filed and nobody from the sheriff’s office has questioned me.”

In making the motion to refer the issue to law enforcement, new City Councilman Stephen Tolson said, “I think in the interest of full transparency it would be a good idea to go ahead and hand over all those documents and any related documents of the prior investigations conducted.”

Yet one month later, the documents have not been turned over to the media or made available to the public. Election Day is Tuesday, March 20 and the voters will finally have a chance to decide who will lead the city forward.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

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Mike Eason named Dawsonville’s interim mayor

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Mike Eason is sworn as Dawsonville interim mayor as grandson Caleb looks on.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Mike Eason, a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for 31 years and the state’s first inspector general, was appointed interim mayor of the city of Dawsonville at Monday’s city council meeting.

Eason earned a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration/criminal justice from Brenau University and also served as Cumming’s chief of police from 2005 to 2009.

Eason will replace James Grogan, who was voted out of office by city council for alleged violations of the city charter. He will serve until voters choose the next mayor in a special election. Council approved a resolution to schedule the special election for March 20

Council also held two public hearings on key issues. The first would reduce the mayor’s compensation from $2,000 per month to $600 per month and clarify compensation outside the first regular meeting of the month.

The second would amend sections of the city’s charter to create district posts for council members and make the removal of city officials consistent with state law. Both require a second public hearing.

Council was scheduled to vote on an request by Gold Creek residents to reduce the fee for combined annexation requests but the applicant withdrew the request for the time being.

A bid was awarded to Cumming-based Rakestraw Sanitation for garbage and solid waste collection at a cost of $9.85 per month.

Council unanimously agreed to pay $320 each plus mileage for two newly elected council members to attend mandatory training.

Council also approved changing the time for regular meetings and work sessions in 2018 to 7 p.m. on the first Monday each month.

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City proposes massive pay cut for next mayor

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Former Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – After Dawsonville’s City Council held the first public hearing on slashing the mayor’s pay by 70 percent from $2,000 to $600 a month Monday, former mayor James Grogan accused council members of trying to keep him from running in the March 20 special election.

“It’s a punitive action to keep me from running,” Grogan said Tuesday. “It all revolves around their ongoing effort to discredit me and keep me from wanting to run. I’m disappointed in what is going on with council.”

City council impeached Grogan in May, alleging that he had violated the city charter and policies. Grogan has repeatedly maintained his innocence.

He filed an appeal in Dawson County Superior Court, but Judge C. Andrew Fuller ruled the appeal had been improperly filed. At that point, Grogan chose to discontinue his appeal and announced he would campaign for his old job in the next special election.

City Mgr. Bob Bolz

“My heart is still in serving the citizens of Dawsonville, and I believe, ultimately, it is their decision and not some random judge to decide,” he said at the time. “So, instead of continuing the fight through the legal process and to prevent city council from spending any more of your tax payer funds frivolously on legal fees, I am here to take the high road and say, let’s stop this now. Let’s put this back up to the voters.”

City Manager Bob Bolz says the proposed reduction in pay is not punitive but reflected the new responsibilities of the job.

“When the late Joe Lane Cox was mayor, he also fulfilled the responsibilities of city manager,” Bolz said. “That carried forward into Mayor Grogan’s tenure.”

Now that the city has a full-time city manager, Bolz said, the responsibilities have changed and council felt the pay should change as well.

A second public hearing on the issue is set for Dec. 18.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

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UPDATE: James Grogan Issues Statement About His Plans to Run for Mayor in 2018

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James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – James Grogan announced today that he is giving up his appeal to remain mayor of Dawsonville in order to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and will, instead, run for mayor in a 2018 special election.

Grogan was voted out of office by City Council members Angie Smith, Caleb Phillips and Jason Power following a report presented to council on May 1 that outlined a number of alleged violations of city code by the mayor. Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel appealed council’s action, but earlier this month, C. Andrew Fuller, Chief Judge for the Northeast Judicial District ruled the appeal was improperly filed.

Today (Oct. 31), Grogan issued the following statement:

“Obviously I am not pleased with the decision of the judge, however, it is very important to note the ruling did not side with the city council’s decision or their action. It was simply a technicality on a complicated issue that has never happened before in the state of Georgia. My heart is still in serving the citizens of Dawsonville and I believe ultimately it is their decision and not some random judge to decide.

“So instead of continuing the fight through the legal process and to prevent city council from spending any more of your tax payer funds frivolously on legal fees, I’m here to take the high road and say, let’s stop this now. Let’s put this back up to the voters.

“This morning I have stopped my appeal and I am announcing that I will rerun for Mayor in the special election in March and to serve you with all my heart. I have been serving you for many years and we have seen many great things happen in this city under my leadership. So, instead of three power hungry city council members and a random judge deciding the direction our city should take, and whether I should continue to serve you, I have decided to put the decision back where it belongs, with the citizens of Dawsonville.

“You and only you will decide whether I should be allowed to continue to be your leader. So please vote for James Grogan for Mayor in 2018.”

 

  

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS: James Grogan To Run for Mayor Again in 2018

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James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. —  James Grogan, who lost his appeal last week to remain mayor of Dawsonville, announced today that he will run for mayor again in 2018. Fetch Your News will have a statement from the Grogan later today.

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Judge Dismisses Mayor James Grogan’s Appeal

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Judge C. Andrew Fuller today (Monday, Oct. 9) dismissed James Grogan’s appeal to remain as mayor of Dawsonville.

Fuller, the Chief Judge for the Northeast Judicial District, ruled the appeal was improperly filed.

When reached for comment Grogan was recovering from eye surgery and said he had not heard of the judge’s decision yet.

Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel was not available for comment.

Fetch Your News will have more details as they become available.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

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Cost to Impeach Mayor Grogan Skyrockets Taxpayers Now on the Hook for $73,000

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Just three months into the process, the cost to taxpayers for Dawsonville City Council’s effort to impeach Mayor James Grogan is skyrocketing. According to city documents obtained by Fetch Your News, the cost has already topped $73,000.

According to those documents, City Attorney Dana Miles’ law firm of Miles, Hansford and Tallant has billed the city a total of $31,296.63 so far.

The law firm of Hulsey, Oliver and Mahar has billed a total of $10,929.12 for Ab Hayes to serve as the independent third party to investigate the actions of the mayor and prepare a report based upon the investigation of the mayor.

The law firm of Ragsdale, Beals, Seigler, Patterson and Gray billed $1,420 for fees to the City Court Judge for handling matters prior to and in conjunction with the hearing for removal of the mayor and the recently hired law firm of Webb and Powell has thus far billed $3,674.

Grogan has said all along that he did nothing wrong and has filed an appeal. As an elected official, he is entitled to legal representation at city expense. Attorney Steven Leibel represents the mayor and thus far, he has billed the city approximately $26,000, which brings the cost to Dawsonville taxpayers to just over $73,000.

“The mayor said at the last meeting this would be very expensive for taxpayers and he suggested finding a resolution short of impeachment,” Leibel said. “Unfortunately the taxpayers now have to shoulder the legal expenses because they didn’t resolve this unconscionable impeachment effort.”

City Council has accused Grogan of violations of city code and policies including lowering rezoning fees for at least three applicants without prior approval of city council, allowing a business to pay a lower rate for water/sewer service without prior approval of city council, and approval of payments to non-profit groups, something that has been a common practice of the city for many years.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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