Buschman case closed, no official action

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Stockbridge City Council’s case against council member Robin Buschman has ended with no official action.

A month after convening a hearing to determine whether Buschman violated the city charter and should be removed from office, the council presented a resolution at its June 8 meeting reprimanding her and directing her to resign from the board of the Downtown Development Authority. That resolution failed, and a few minutes later a vote was taken to end the investigation.

After the resolution was presented by council member Anthony Ford, Mayor Tim Thompson asked the city attorney for direction on what to do if he feels the resolution itself violates the charter. Attorney Michael Williams said he would have to research that.

Thompson then said for the record that he would not sign the resolution and other arrangements would have to be made if it passed. He gave no reason for his decision.

Williams said that the council can amend the motion to authorize Mayor Pro Tem Alphonso Thomas to sign the resolution, which the mayor does not have the authority to veto.

Buschman asked for a copy of the resolution, pointing out that no one had given her one yet. She then proceeded to unload on the entire council for its actions.

“I’m good enough to be a council person but not good enough to be a DDA member,” she began. “You can fight evil, but you can’t fight ignorance. There is nothing in this charter that states I violated any oath of office.”

Buschman reminded her peers that state law requires that a council member serve on the DDA board, then asked if anyone else was prepared to serve in her place.

It is state law that if a council member can’t be on the DDA, someone else has to go on in her place

“I hope that you never do to each other what you’ve done to me. You act like a pack of jackals up here,” Buschman said. “I’ve treated all of the DDA members just like I’ve treated you - with respect. And this is what I get.

“Stockbridge will never grow. It will never be anything,” she continued. “Everyone wants what other cities have, but they won’t achieve it because they’re too busy fighting over who sits on which board. I hope that this November you four don’t find yourselves in my position, because it very well could happen.”

When the vote on the resolution was taken, Ford and Gantt voted in favor while the other three council members voted against it. Thompson looked down at Buschman and said, “You can’t vote.”

“Why can’t I?” Buschman replied.

Thompson quickly apologized and turned to Williams for direction. Williams told Buschman he “would strongly advise you to abstain from voting on that motion. You would have an inherent conflict of interest in voting on a matter that directly pertains to you.”

Buschman fired back at Williams: “You work for the law firm that brought charges against me and you haven’t represented me at all.”

Eventually Buschman withdrew her vote, making it a tie. Thompson broke the tie by voting against the resolution.

None of the council members made any comments supporting their votes either way. Thomas said he had problems with the wording in the resolution but never directly addressed his position regarding Buschman.

Williams informed the council that it still needed to make a finding about the charges against Buschman. Gantt asked if that could be done that night, and Williams said the council could go back into executive session or discuss it in public if the members were comfortable doing so.

“I would like for this to be done and over with,” Buschman said. “If they can vote tonight, I’d like a vote to finish this.”

Council member Regina Ward made a motion to end the investigation that night, and Ford seconded. Thomas spoke up, saying he was confused about what the council would be voting on.

Ward pointed out that the resolution had already failed and this vote was to end the investigation. Her motion passed 4-0.

“Well, there you go,” said Thompson after the vote. “That’s the end of that.”