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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Judge Fuller Could Rule This Week on City’s Motion to Dismiss Mayor James Grogan’s Appeal

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City Attorney Dana Miles

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Enotah Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller could rule as early as this week on a  motion to dismiss an appeal by Mayor James Grogan of his impeachment by the Dawsonville City Council.

City council has accused Grogan of violations of the city charter and, on May 15 by a vote of 3-1 with Councilman Mike Sosebee opposed, removed him from office.

Steven Leibel

Grogan and his attorney Steven Leibel immediately filed an appeal de novo in Superior Court and the mayor was reinstated while the appeal process played out.

City Attorney Dana Miles then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the appeal for a new trial de novo is not the correct method and that the only method for review is by certiorari.

Leibel countered that Miles is wrong and that the legislature gave his client the right to determine if he wants to go by cert or de novo.

If the appeal is not dismissed, Miles wants Grogan removed from office and his salary of approximately $3,600 per month and benefits returned to the city.

Fetch Your News has reported the decision to impeach the mayor has already cost taxpayers approximately $73,000.

Grogan is accused of lowering rezoning fees for 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.

Grogan has maintained his innocence and said he has done nothing wrong.

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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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Mayor Grogan Calls Removal “A Witch Hunt” Councilwoman Smith Says It was Justified

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – On May 22, Dawsonville City Council members Jason Power, Angie Smith and Caleb Phillips voted to remove Mayor James Grogan from office for alleged violations of the city charter, basing their decision on an investigation by attorney Abbott Hayes, who charged the city in excess of $6,000 for his work.

The mayor called the investigation a “witch hunt” and supporters labeled it a “political lynching.”

The allegations, as outlined in Hayes’ report, include:

Violation of the city charter by reducing the fee for several rezoning applications without council approval, changing an application for water and sewer from a business rate to a slightly less expensive residential rate without council approval; approving charitable donations to non-profit organizations; charging alcohol to his city-issued credit card and instructing an employee to use the city credit card to purchase alcohol.

Sources close to the city council and the mayor told Fetch Your News that even if the allegations are true, they “do not rise to the level of removal from office.”

During the May 22nd meeting, Mayor Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel questioned Hayes and elicited the following information:

  • No one other than the mayor was investigated;
  • The application for water and sewer that was re-classified from business to residential was for a building that is less than 400 square feet that was never used for business, but only for storage of material;
  • Donations to non-profit organizations was a practice carried forward from the Joe Lane Cox administration and when the city attorney pointed out it is not allowed under the Georgia Constitution, the practice stopped;
  • The alcohol purchased was not for personal consumption. It was the same “moonshine” produced by the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, which is located in the city hall complex. It was purchased as a door prize intended to promote the City of Dawsonville.

The timing of the mayor’s removal raised suspicion among Grogan’s supporters who wondered if council had another motivation. Some of those have asked why council waited so long to investigate? After all, some of the allegations date all the way back to 2013 and were made highly public in 2015.

Fetch Your News wanted to know if the council’s actions were politically motivated so we contacted each of the three who voted to remove the mayor.

Councilwoman Angie Smith

Smith responded to our questions in an email. Phillips said only that he agreed with everything Smith said and Power did not respond at all.

Smith wrote, “We were acting in accordance with the authority given by our charter and it is clear to us that seeking justice is absolutely not a political lynching.”

She added, “Along with the annexations and in light of the difference in fees that were charged for other annexations, and not knowing how it came about, (Caleb Phillips) made a motion for the City Manager to hire Abbott Hayes to investigate who authorized the reduced fees and if there were any other misuse of fees in the city or misuse of city funds…Angie Smith seconded and the vote carried unanimously in favor. As you can see, our motion for an investigation never mentioned Mayor Grogan specifically.”

Asked if three city council members have the authority to override the vote of hundreds of citizens who elected the mayor, Smith said, “While the citizens of the City of Dawsonville did, in fact, elect Mr. Grogan to be Mayor, they did not elect him to violate our city charter and city ordinances. We, as city council members were also elected by the citizens of this city to uphold our charter and ordinances, as well as laws of our county, state, and nation.”

Leibel appealed the council’s action Wednesday in Superior Court of Dawson County and Mayor Grogan was returned to his position pending the outcome of that appeal.


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 www.fetchyournews.com

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James Grogan Returns as Dawsonville Mayor Monday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – James Grogan will return to the office of Mayor of the City of Dawsonville effective immediately, pending an appeal in the Superior Court of Dawson County.

City Council voted 3-1 last Monday, with Councilman Mike Sosebee opposed, to impeach Grogan for alleged violations of the city code. But Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel filed the appeal on Wednesday and said that Grogan would return to his duties as mayor in time for Monday’s 5 p.m. work session.

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

Grogan has served as mayor since 2010. He was reelected in 2015. His current term is schedued to end in 2019.


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 www.fetchyournews.com

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Mayor Grogan Appeals Removal from City Council

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Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan has appealed his removal from office by the City Council.

On Monday, Dawsonville City Council voted 3-1, with Councilman Mike Sosebee opposed, to remove the mayor for alleged violations of the city code and charter.

On Wednesday, Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel filed an appeal in the Superior Court of Dawson County.

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

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