DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council voted 3-1 Monday, with Councilman Mike Sosebee opposed, to remove Mayor James Grogan from office for violations of the city charter. The mayor’s attorney Steve Leibel said his client would appeal the decision.
“This was not a fair hearing,” Leibel said. “(Council) violated the Constitution in finding against the Mayor. They did not give him due process and they didn’t give him a full opportunity to call witnesses. Unfortunately this is going to be very expensive for the City of Dawsonville. They are going to have to pay a lot of people a lot of money to fight this thing and it will be fought.”
The decision to remove Grogan was based on a report presented to council by Gainesville Attorney Abbott Hayes, who alleged the mayor violated city code by reducing fees for several rezoning applicants without prior approval of city council, allowing State Rep. Kevin Tanner to pay a lower residential rate for water rather than the commercial rate without prior approval of city council and approving payments to non-profit groups for golf tournaments in which the mayor was a participant.
Grogan was the subject of a city-wide investigation conducted to determine what, if anything, should be done to ensure city officials comply with the city charter.
After Hayes presented his report to city council, he was subjected to a fiery cross examination by Leibel.
Asked if he knew that Mayor Pro Tem Jason Power had participated in some of the same non-profit events as the mayor, Hayes said he did not.
Leibel angrily shot back, “Don’t you think it would be important for you to investigate (council members) while you were investigating him?”
Hayes, who said he was paid in excess of $6,100 for his work, said he had no opinion.
“So when you were given this assignment, the assignment was only to investigate the mayor and not anyone else,” Leibel asked.
“Correct,” Hayes answered.
“Kind of biased don’t you think?”
“No,” was the answer.
Leibel attempted to call Power as a witness, but Judge Ronald Reemsnyder, who served as the hearing officer, would not allow it. Leibel also requested that Reemsnyder have Power recuse himself, asserting that Power had prejudiced himself by comments he made to the local newspaper. That request was also denied.
Grogan said he was disappointed in council’s decision but he appreciated Councilman Mike Sosebee voting against his removal.
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