During their Nov. 18 regular meeting, the Dawsonville City Council faced two personnel issues.
The City Council voted 3-0 to send council member for post 4 Mark French before the ethics board after he urged city manager Bob Bolz and city attorney Dana Miles to give a legal opinion to a Steve Sanvi, private citizen.
The section of the meeting where the council members offer reports or concerns started with council member French offering a comment.
“I’d like to see us, as we get into the process of updating our ordinances and our policies, develop something that would address how we respond to citizen inquiries and citizen concerns. I’ve been disturbed by some of the emails I’ve seen floating back and forth between our city officials and residents. I find those deeply disturbing and completely and wholly unacceptable. We work for them, they deserve an answer when they ask a question.”
When asked if he had anything specific in mind, French told Mayor Mike Eason that “I believe you responded, in an email that was forwarded to me, to the city manager directing him not to answer a citizen’s question.”
“We work for all the people,” added French. “Not the ones we like and not the ones we don’t like.”
Eason was quick to clarify the situation, reading off a Nov. 7 email from French to city manager Bob Bolz that urged Bolz to get city attorney Dana Miles to answer Sanvi’s question.
“The concern I have with this, is this is an improper use of public funds to find a legal opinion for a citizen. Our job is not to do research for a citizen. Our job is to do research for the city and in the wellbeing of the city.”
City Attorney Dana Miles confirmed Eason’s sentiment. “Well what is involved is a potential violation of the city’s code of ethics because of the request to use public funds to do research to answer a private citizen’s question.”
“In addition,” Miles continued, “it puts me in a difficult ethical situation, because I represent the City of Dawsonville, not Mr. Sanvi.”
That lead Miles to take “the position that I’m unable to provide an opinion to a private citizen, and to counsel the mayor and council that it was improper for you to ask me to do that. It’s improper for you to ask me to use public funds to provide an opinion to a private citizen. Whether they are a citizen of the city, whether they are Mr. French’s employer or not is irrelevant. They are a private citizen and I work for the city, not a private citizen.”
“I don’t think it’s improper,” responded French. “But I’m not an attorney and I don’t pretend to be.”
The council voted 3-0, with French abstaining, to refer the actions of French to the city’s ethics board.
Later in the meeting, council member for post 3 Jason Power announced his resignation from the council. His family has built a house outside of the city limits. His resignation has been expected since he started the build in January.
“After much consideration and prayer, Julie and I have built a house and it’s going to be done sooner rather than later, it seems. I’ve submitted my resignation to (City Clerk Beverly Banister) and will be resigning (Nov. 19),” said Power.
“It has been my pleasure and honor to serve the City of Dawsonville for the past eight years,” Power said in a prepared statement. “The experience has afforded me the opportunity to work on behalf of the community with some of the best that there is.”
“We’re going to miss him tremendously,” said Council member Stephen Tolson.