Mayor says he will release document but won’t say when
Peachtree City taxpayers paid $10,000, without city council approval, to provide a legal defense for Mayor Don Haddix in a libel lawsuit filed last year after Haddix claimed in an email that former Mayor Harold Logsdon was “part drunk” at council meetings.
Although the city paid the legal bill in April because of a decision made by its risk management company, city officials as of Thursday afternoon had not yet been provided with a copy of the settlement that resolved the impasse, The Citizen has learned.
Haddix has so far rebuffed three separate requests from The Citizen for a copy of the document.
“All I can say at this time is it’s being handled and you will be dealt with,” Haddix said Friday morning, May 25, when The Citizen contacted him by phone more than a week after the original records request was made to Haddix personally. “… It will be resolved within the legal time frame. All I’m saying is it’s coming, you will get it.”
Georgia’s Open Records law requires public officials to reply to open records requests and to permit inspection and/or copying of the record within three days of an open records request.
The Citizen first made a verbal request for a copy of the settlement directly to Haddix after the council meeting Thursday, May 17, and Haddix said he would provide a copy of the document. The newspaper then followed up with an email request to Haddix the following day, Friday, May 18, to Haddix and officials at City Hall asking for the settlement.
After not receiving a reply from Haddix within the prescribed three business days of time allotted under the Georgia Open Records statute, The Citizen renewed its request for the settlement document on Thursday, May 24.
The next day, Haddix told The Citizen via telephone that he had been informed that since the newspaper “renewed” its request Wednesday, that started the “clock” ticking again for the three-day window within which he is to provide a response.
The $9,969.40 expenditure, which was never approved nor discussed by council, was authorized by the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency after Haddix had City Attorney Ted Meeker write a third appeal for the funds following two unsuccessful attempts.
Despite the fact that Haddix had been sued personally and not in his official capacity as mayor, GIRMA ultimately decided to approve the expense.
Haddix had been turned down twice previously by GIRMA because he wasn’t sued in his official capacity as mayor, according to documents The Citizen received last week.
The city had to repay GIRMA for the expense because the matter didn’t reach the city’s $25,000 deductible.
Logsdon told The Citizen last week that he did not sue Haddix in his official capacity as mayor because he didn’t want the city to have to pay for Haddix’s legal fees in the matter.
Haddix’s pursuit of the legal fees was met with scorn by his fellow council members at last week’s city council meeting. Council members ultimately decided to have Meeker write a follow-up letter to GIRMA seeking to have the money refunded to the city.
Councilman George Dienhart asked Haddix several times to point out what part of his official duties as mayor embolden him to denigrate the former mayor. Haddix never gave a direct reply to that answer but contended that because he sent the email to a city employee in reference to a pending city matter, his legal bill in the libel lawsuit should be covered by the city.