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Stockbridge considering
possible litigation


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  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 litigation.”

  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 the facts.

  “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.



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