Atlanta Fails to Amend Minutes, despite Promise to Court


Screen Shot 2022-04-30 at 2.12.31 PM(APN) ATLANTA – The City Council of Atlanta has failed to amend the official minutes of five meetings of the Community Development/Human Services Committee from 2020, several weeks after promising Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe that they would take steps to remedy the omission of the movers and seconders on certain votes in violation of the requirements of the Georgia Open Meetings Act.


“Plaintiff contends that the Open Meetings Act requires these minutes to identify the mover and seconder for each of these votes.  The City agrees,” the City of Atlanta wrote in the filing, dated March 18, 2022, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News.


The case is Atlanta Progressive News, Inc. v. City of Atlanta, 2021CV353735.


sellersPrivate attorneys for the City, Matthew R. Sellers and Robert Ashe of the Bondurant, Elmore, & Mixson law firm, authored the March 18, 2022 filing.


“The Open Meetings Act requires the minutes to list ‘the identity of the persons making and seconding the motion or other proposal.’” the City of Atlanta said.


The City wrote, however, that it has not figured out how to amend the minutes because there are so many possibilities to consider.


“The Court should also reject Plaintiff’s claim in the exercise of its discretion because the City intends to take steps to remedy the inadvertent omission in the minutes at issue.  The City is considering several options,” the City of Atlanta said.


123_1“In weighing those options, the City must consider (among other things) the most efficient use of limited municipal resources,” the City of Atlanta said.


“Deciding the most appropriate course of action will take time, and the ultimate decision lies with the Atlanta City Council… The City asks the Court’s reasonable forbearance as it decides the appropriate course of action,” the City said.


Since the March 18, 2022 filing, the Full Council has now met twice; and the CD/HS Committee has also met twice, meaning that there have been four separate opportunities for the City of Atlanta to follow the law and keep its promise to the Court.


To date, there is no evidence that the City of Atlanta has attempted to take a single step to remedy the meeting minutes.


The Atlanta City Council met on March 21 and April 18, 2022 and failed to amend the minutes, despite the City’s stated knowledge.


The Community Development/Human Services Committee, whose minutes are at issue, met on March 29 and April 26, 2022 and failed to amend the minutes, despite the City’s stated knowledge.


JasonDozier134Councilman Jason Dozier (District 4) is currently chair of the CD/HS Cmte.


In an April 04, 2022 email and a subsequent April 26, 2022 email, APN has made all Councilmembers, including Mr. Dozier and Council President Doug Shipman, aware of the situation; so they are now knowingly responsible for their own inactions.


The Council and their private attorneys also had a two week Council Recess in which to ponder the deep existential question of how to amend the minutes.


“This amended reply is necessitated by the failure of Def. City of Atlanta to keep its promise to the Court in its March 18, 2022 Response, to amend the minutes at issue in this First Amended Motion,” Atlanta Progressive News wrote in a filing dated April 26, 2022.


“It has now been thirty-eight days since the ‘City of Atlanta’ has made the promise,” APN wrote, although the current total is forty-three days as of the publication of this article.  


“‘City of Atlanta’ must now be stated in quotes because it is clear the private lawyers who purport to speak for the City in fact do not speak for the City of Atlanta and were not in fact in communication with the legislative branch about the promised future action that they held out to the Court when they made the promise,” APN wrote.  


“Alternatively, if they were in communication, Def. and Def.’s private counsel are in collusion to deceive the Court and the parties in order to avoid amending the minutes,” APN wrote.


matt westmoreland 4At issue are five meeting minutes of the CD/HS Committee dating January 24, January 28, February 11, February 25, and March 10, 2020, while Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland (Post 2-at-large) was chair.


The minutes fail to list the movers, seconders, yeas, nays, abstainers, and absences for certain votes.


Jan. 14, 2020 (vote to adopt the agenda, and the vote to adopt the minutes)


Jan. 28, 2020 (vote to adopt the agenda, and the vote to adopt the minutes)


Feb. 11, 2020 (vote to adopt the agenda)


Feb. 25, 2020 (vote to adopt the agenda)


March 10, 2020 (vote to adopt the agenda, and the vote to adopt the minutes.)


20220215_152411As previously reported by APN, the City of Atlanta so far has spent over 431,000 dollars on related open meetings and open records lawsuits with APN and APN’s News Editor from June 2020 through February 2022.


What is the City of Atlanta’s purpose in spending taxpayer dollars to knowingly defend unlawful actions to advance the deprivation of the people’s right to basic information about the open meetings taking place in their name?


In the absence of any other explanation, the answer seems to be the City of Atlanta’s basic desire to send a message to the general public that the majestic, superior City of Atlanta will not allow the mere public to tell them what to do.  


For this purpose, apparently, no expense is to be spared from the taxpayers.


(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2022)

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