The committee, which is made up of City Attorney Bobby Dyer and Council members Sandy McGrew and Jack Goodwin, dismissed the complaint unanimously, saying it was “moot” at the July 15 meeting made known to the public and media about an hour before it began.
On Wednesday, McGrew changed her decision and asked the complaint to be moved forward to the Ethics Board, which would have needed to be formed. Dyer said once again that since Cummins resigned from the council, the ethics board would no longer have jurisdiction over him and “the complaint should be dismissed as moot.”
“It would be the same as receiving an ethics complaint against anyone who is not on the council,” Dyer said. “And asking the ethics committee for an advisory opinion, which it has no authority to give.”
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.
Cummins attended the meeting and said Thursday the committee took the proper action.
“The moving forward was a moot point, even though I would have welcomed the chance to prove how baseless the complaint was,” Cummins said. “Often citizens without all the facts form opinions that are later proved to be wrong and this was the case with Mr. Potts’ complaint. I was disappointed but not surprised by Council member McGrew’s flip flop on her opinion. But as I previously stated, my focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the city of Canton with the best possible performance as city manager.”
Dyer said the whole point of filing an ethics complaint is to punish the person in their status as a council member.
“He’s not a council member. There’s just nothing that can be done. I don’t think it’s fair to pass it on to another board and make them have to deal with it,” he said. “First, I can’t ask them to deal with something they don’t need to and second they might go forward with action when they shouldn’t. I think it would be wrong”
Goodwin said Cummins is neither elected nor appointed so the ethics complaint against him doesn’t apply. McGrew said it’s their job to discuss all avenues.
“This is what we discussed at the previous meeting, but since we’re meeting again, we need to turn every page,” McGrew said. “I understand Mr. Cummins is not an elected official, but I think it’s our job to talk about it and make sure we do the right thing.”
The vote was 2-1 to dismiss the complaint. Dyer asked City Clerk Susan Stanton to send a letter to Potts notifying him of the vote and dismissal.
Potts, who did not attend the first or second meeting, said he had no intention of attending the Wednesday meeting because he assumed they would dismiss it again. However, he still acknowledges the first meeting was in violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act.
Georgia law says governing bodies of agencies may hold meetings besides those regularly scheduled, but they must provide notice to the public at least 24 hours beforehand. The government body must post a notice at the place of its regular meetings, and it must give written or oral notice to the local newspaper.
“I’m still acknowledging that it was an illegal meeting, and I plan on pursuing that with the state,” Potts said Thursday.