Fayette Superior Court Senior Judge John Carbo denied the motion to dismiss the Peachtree City Council from the Open Meetings lawsuit filed by John Dufresne against Peachtree City, Peachtree City Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Vanessa Fleisch, Terry Ernst, Mike King, Kevin Madden and Phil Prebor.
This was a big win for us. The city and council stay in the case. We wanted the opportunity for discovery to get at the whole truth. We intend to move aggressively and conduct depositions soon.
The mayor and council have a significant conflict of interest being both the council and WASA board members. WASA is supposed to be independent from the city. The mayor and council now make decisions for both the city and WASA.
I think their council biases influence their WASA decisions, and have always questioned if they can make decisions that are in WASA’s best interests.
Concerning the lawsuit, they’re receiving advice from the city attorney and the WASA attorney that may conflict. Also, the mayor and council as individuals are being represented by both the city attorney and the WASA attorney.
One week after the court ruling, the city proposed a change to their indemnification resolution, which citizens considered an attempt to stifle free speech by intimidation and some wondered if they were possibly targeting [me].
On April 18, 2019, the mayor and council were confronted by dozens of angry citizens vehemently opposed to the proposed change to the indemnification resolution. The change would allow city officials and employees to sue citizens for defamation with the city using taxpayer money to pay their legal fees. Many citizens considered the purpose of the change was to silence critics through intimidation and threat of bankruptcy. Council disapproved the change.
At the same April 18 meeting, the council approved entering into an agreement with WASA for a joint defense against the Dufresne lawsuit.
I’ve been a frequent critic of the City Council and WASA board. I won’t be intimidated. Mayor Fleisch and Councilmen Ernst, King, Madden and Prebor made the decision to enter into an agreement, with themselves as the WASA Board, for a joint defense against me. I expect they, as the WASA Board, will approve that agreement with themselves.
They’re in a unique conflict of interest situation. Members of both council and the WASA Board will be present when either the City Council or the WASA Board convenes into executive session for private discussions to decide any topic of mutual interest. There’s been no notification to the public of having a joint executive session.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Editor’s note: Former WASA Board Chairman Dufresne in March this year filed an Open Records lawsuit against both government bodies. Dufresne and other volunteers were removed from the WASA board last summer when the council, via local legislation, became the only persons legally allowed to serve on the WASA board.]