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EXPOSED: 5 Canton City Council Members Possibly Engaging in Illegal Activity

Possible illegal back room meetings are happening and policy decisions being made outside of the public eye. Canton City Councilman responds to these allegations saying, "so sue me."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author of the post and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Patch.

Over the past couple of months speculation has been made that many Canton City Councilmen were meeting behind closed doors, without public notice, and making critical policy decisions outside of the Mayor and public eyes.  You see, anytime a certain number of City Councilmen and Mayor meet, and under certain conditions, what is called a ‘quorum’ is met and very specific actions must be taken during this time.  The law says, in Canton’s Charter Section 2.21:

"The mayor, or in the mayor's absence the mayor pro tem, and three council members shall constitute a quorum and shall be authorized to transact business of the city council. For voting purposes, the mayor pro tem shall be counted as one of the council members, even when presiding over the meeting. Voting on the adoption of ordinances shall be by voice vote or another means of voting approved by council and the vote shall be recorded in the journal, but any member of the city council shall have the right to request a roll call vote and such vote shall be recorded in the journal. Except as otherwise provided in this Charter, the affirmative vote by majority shall be required for the adoption of any ordinance, resolution, or motion. No ordinance shall be adopted, however, unless it shall receive at least three affirmative votes."

Reportedly, none of the requirements have been met or even an attempted to have been met.  Back room deals are possibly being made and public distrust in the Gang of 5 is growing.  During open forum at a recent Canton City Council meeting a concerned citizen challenged the Council of these quorumed back room meetings and in response Councilman Beresford replied, “so sue me.”

To add, Section 2.19 (c) says, "All meetings of the city council shall be public to the extent required by law and notice to the public of special meetings shall be made fully as is reasonably possible as provided by section 50-14-1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated [O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1], or other such applicable laws as are or may hereafter be enacted."  

What do these two sections of Canton's Charter mean?  If the required number of Councilmen and Mayor or Councilmen and Mayor pro tem are discussing city business, to include sending out policy decisions on official letterhead, then this meeting and voting on policy issues must be recorded.  Further, these meetings must be public.

Attached is a copy of a disseminated letter and includes the signatures of each member of the Gang of 5, most of the Canton City Council Members, and on official letterhead.  The Mayor, his assistant, nor the public were made aware of these negotiations, back room meetings, and policy decisions. 

 This is the all too familiar unethical business practices Canton’s citizens once endured.  It is critical the Mayor acts without haste and deliberately to determine if these private, quorum questioned, meetings violate the law.  I encourage the Mayor to assemble an Ethical Inquiry Board to investigate this matter with his authority under Section 2.35 part h of Canton’s Charter states:

"Conduct inquiries and investigations into the conduct of the city’s affairs and shall have such duties as may be provided by ordinance.”

 The letter sent out by the Gang of 5, along with Councilman Beresford’s shocking remark, places the City Council and the citizens of Canton at an Impasse.  The citizens demand accountability and transparency from the very people they elected to serve their interest.  While is saddens me to have to report this possible illegal activity and shed negative light on the city I love so much; I am hopeful that a renewed sense of urgency will be placed on accountability and transparency of all elected and appointed leaders.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pat Porter Gold December 20, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I've never met Mr. Saro, but I applaud his interest in the actions of our city council. There was a time when these men were trusted, when people like me voted for them, but those times are gone. I am reminded of a quote I have referenced before and will probably use again: Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. ~Abraham Lincoln Power can be a dangerous and addictive thing when placed in the wrong hands. I am sad and disheartened by what is happening in the City of Canton. I thought these men were better than that. I thought we had entered a new era, but I guess I was wrong.
Jay Saro December 20, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Pat, There are so many folks in Canton that feel the same way you do. As a junior enlisted sailor, in the U.S. Navy, I represented the Constitution, the United States of America, and the resolve of her people. This is power, no matter how small, and it must be handled with honor, courage, and true commitment. It it truly sad that self interest and pride have taken the wheel of is driving our city down an dangerous road. I will make sure to introduce myself to you next time I see you and I am certain you, your neighbors, and all of Canton will soon know me very well!
John December 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM
We should vote for Bill Grant. He'll fix it.
Sandy McGrew January 04, 2013 at 02:58 PM
I will, indeed, vote for Mr. Grant if he chooses to run for city council. I am very eager for election day in November to put into place others who have a clear vision for Canton, Ga and who want to lead the city into the future. Mr. Saro, thank you for your service to our country, it is truly appreciated. Thank you for your interest in Canton, Ga. Your words here show that you have sound knowledge of the constitution and proper workings of a city government. It is a sad day when I have to admit that our city government needs a watch dog, but they do.
Jay Saro January 06, 2013 at 03:34 AM
I think Mr. Grant would make a great candidate for the second ward, and Canton, and hope he decides to run. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I hope through my writings people in Canton, and all around, will begin to see the destruction this current council is causing and that the citizens will come out and play a larger role in local government.
Christopher Straub January 16, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Why don't you name this 'Gang of Five' instead of addressing them as such? Seems like a bit of name calling along with some legal facts thrown in and devoid of evidence which would illustrate 'exposure'. I read this and get drama without substance. Who has met as a group? Where and when? What are you hiding? Why?

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