Council ends Thompson investigation

Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The investigation into Stockbridge Mayor Tim Thompson is officially over. But the members of the City Council who commissioned the probe are not happy about it.

Less than 24 hours after a unanimous vote at the Nov. 19 special called meeting, a statement was issued from City Hall on behalf of all five council members claiming that the report by investigator Phil Friduss was far from complete.

The meeting agenda consisted solely of executive session, which began immediately after the agenda was adopted and took a little over an hour. The council reconvened and a motion was made immediately to end the investigation.

Included in the motion was the authorization for all council members to speak freely and for all documents to be made available upon receipt of an open records request.

The only discussion of the motion was when council member LaKeisha Gantt asked why Friduss, was not at the meeting to present his findings in person. City attorney Michael Williams responded that “the investigator has respectfully declined to come back and present his findings.”

The vote was 5-0 and there were no other comments. Gantt immediately moved to adjourn the meeting.

The statement issued Nov. 20 began by pointing out that, while the outburst by Thompson in March during which he threatened a council member received the most public attention, “the public needs to know there were several other threats before that day.”

The statement charged that there have been “multiple bullying and threatening episodes” by the mayor over two years, including as recently as last month.

Council members were concerned about what they said was left out of Friduss’ preliminary report submitted in August. Among the omissions were statements from a dozen or more people involved in the investigation; facts regarding the city’s arrangement with Hugh Austin who was retained by Thompson in 2014 as an assistant; possible correspondence received by the mayor not being accounted for appropriately; and Thompson alleging forgery regarding a document delegating power to the mayor pro tem in the mayor’s absence.

One city employee cited specifically in the statement is Diane Ide, executive assistant to city manager Michael Harris. Council members questioned whether Friduss’ investigation included any conversation at all with Ide, who witnessed Thompson’s March outburst and has had direct access to the mayor’s email correspondence while also being fully aware of the letter regarding delegation of powers.

“This council made a request to investigate and receive facts, and instead, what the council has received in this report is clearly the opinion of Mr. Friduss with the appearance of being compromised,” the statement reads.

As with the investigator’s report, the statement by the council is also subject to the Georgia Open Records Act.