Canton resident Andrew Potts filed the complaint last month, claiming since Cummins was both a seated council member and acting city manager, he should not have been able to participate in the city manager selection process.
The ethics committee composed of council members Sandy McGrew and Jack Goodwin and City Attorney Bobby Dyer, reviewed the ethics complaint at the 4 p.m. meeting. If the committee had wanted to move forward with the complaint, a city ethics board would have needed to be formed.
City Clerk Susan Stanton said in an email following the meeting, “the decision of the committee is that the complaint is now moot in that Glen Cummins is no longer a council member and the ethics ordinance applies only to the governing authority, meaning mayor and council.”
The ethics committee meeting was open to the public, but the time and meeting location notification was not made public by Stanton until about 3 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting was at City Hall.
Potts said Wednesday he was not notified of the ethics committee meeting, despite having asked several times to be informed when the meeting was to take place.
“I believe it was a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act and didn’t follow the proper steps to notify the public about the meeting,” Potts said. “I absolutely wanted to attend and wasn’t given the option. At this point, I’m pursuing all options and will definitely be filing something about my thoughts on the open meeting. I had hoped something would come out of my complaint, but given the fact that they voted him city manager regardless of my letter, it told me there wasn’t a lot of seriousness taken on their part.”
Cummins, however, said he was pleased with the outcome. Cummins said his viewpoint on the complaint has not changed and he thinks it was “completely baseless and had no merit.”
Potts wrote in his letter to Mayor Gene Hobgood, dated June 24, that Cummins should have stepped down from his council position, then applied for the city manager position.
“Elected officials should never be allowed to participate in a process or have direct influence in a process that allows them to benefit financially and receive taxpayers’ dollars,” Potts said in his ethics complaint. “In summary, Mr. Cummins abused his position as a city council member when he participated in a process that he ultimately will financially benefit from.”
McGrew said Wednesday at the meeting Dyer presented that since Cummins was no longer a city councilman the jurisdiction of the ethics ordinance is no longer applicable. She said when Dyer gave the information to her and Goodwin, the two agreed the complaint was moot.
“I think that with the council, we need to take citizen complaints seriously. If Cummins was still a councilman, I think the council would need to take it further because we need to hold ourselves to a very high standard,” McGrew said.
Cummings agreed it should not have moved forward.
“Had the complaint gone forward, the actual proceeding would have identified just how politically motivated the complaint was and I would have been totally cleared of any wrong doing,” Cummins said. “Everything I did as a city council member was completely above board and all actions taken relative to being the interim city manager or selection of me as the new city manager were performed by others without my vote or participation.”
Cummins was named the new Canton city manager on July 3 by a 3-2 vote and resigned from his council seat immediately following the vote. Council members Bill Grant and McGrew opposed, and Cummins abstained from the vote.
“The baseless ethics complaint has no bearing relative to my intention, which is to perform the best possible job as city manager and provide the highest quality and most responsive services to the citizens and taxpayers of Canton,” Cummins said Wednesday.
Hobgood, like Potts, expressed disappointment adequate public notice for the meeting was not given.
“I believe the media was not notified until about an hour before the meeting, and that doesn’t comply with the state’s open meeting law,” Hobgood said. “I’ve sent an email to the council and the ethics committee that I’m not concerned about the outcome but more about the process of holding a meeting and citizens, who would’ve wanted to attend, weren’t able to.”
Hobgood said the public may not have been able to participate in the meeting, but they have the right to know when and where they can observe any committee meeting where city business is discussed.
He also asked the council to have the ethics committee hold another meeting and advertise it properly so the public is notified.