Johns Creek Chamber
appen dec 2010 Duplicate

Mayor Gravitt overstepped bounds of authority, civility

April 23, 2012
Mayor H. Ford Gravitt has sat on the Cumming City Council some 45 years, more than 40 of those years as mayor. That in itself is quite an endorsement from the residents of Cumming. He did not remain in office that long without acquiring considerable political acumen along with all that experience.

So it came as quite a surprise when he opened a city council meeting last week by calling for the removal of longtime political gadfly Nydia Tisdale's video camera from council chambers.

Gravitt gave no explanation other than that Cumming did not allow cameras to film in chambers. He then ordered the chief of police to remove the offending video camera over the understandable objections of Tisdale.

There is a rather glaring problem with that action. It directly contravenes the state of Georgia's Sunshine Laws which state in clear unequivocal language that open government meetings will indeed allow filming of the proceedings.

Now, the mayor may be used to having his own way on council after serving so long in office, but that does not mean he has been conferred some extralegal powers to order Tisdale or her camera out of a public meeting.

It was not a propitious time for Gravitt to call attention to the Sunshine Laws in such dramatic fashion since that very day Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill that strengthened those same Sunshine Laws that the mayor flouted.

Every daily news organ in Georgia had that story. Now the next day they had the exclamation point of the need for such laws with the follow-up story of the mayor who threw the citizen with the camera out of City Hall.

And since it was such an unrepentant flouting of state and constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment, it is one of serious concern to the media that one who has served so long in public office would take a step we find offensive.

It did not add to the dignity of the proceedings that not one council member raised an objection to this arbitrary action – a matter of housekeeping, the mayor called it.

Nor did the police chief hesitate to carry out the unlawful order. Finally, despite being called upon by the shocked Ms. Tisdale, the city attorney remained mute. Even if the mayor claims ignorance of the law, they should have known better and protected the honor of the mayor and the city.

Whom do they serve, the city or the mayor? And is the Cumming City Council merely the mayor's rubber stamp? These are the questions that are raised when the public's rights are trampled in open session.

Managing Editor, Appen Newspapers Inc.
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Tags: Community & Outreach

  1. report print email
    King Gravitt
    April 23, 2012 | 07:06 PM

    After 45 years, the Mayor clearly expects his wishes to be carried out by his puppets without question; that goes not only for the city council and the Police Chief, but all city employees AND three members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. Hopefully, the AG will send a strong message to the Mayor, that his fascist days are coming to a rapid close. The maximum penalty for this flagrant violation of the law should be imposed.

    Hal Schneider
  2. report print email
    April 23, 2012 | 07:31 PM

    I have known Ford Gravitt most of my life. It is no secret that he has added value to the City of Cumming, Ga..

    His mistake in bulling a little. polite woman with the Law at her side is now all of his records good and bad will be fair game for every activist coming at him and his fiefdom.

    This will be the total undoing of a man who should have retired from politics while the gettin' was good, now it ain't. Ford is now in a cage with the door welded shut.

    I am woefully saddened to see this awful day arrive for Ford and the City Counsel. This will be a blood bath for Cumming's history and I take no pride in witnessing this horrible event about to explode.

    David Milum
  3. report print email
    April 23, 2012 | 07:34 PM

    I never post without singing my name. The post above is mine.

    David Milum

    David Milum
  4. report print email
    Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt's unlawful use of police force
    April 24, 2012 | 08:15 AM

    Can Forsyth County expect serious water negotiations from a mayor who doesn't know the law, unlawfully abuses police power against innocent women and tells lies about EPD meetin's?

    From what I understand there are many, many more issues lurking in the closets at City Hall.

    Brant Meadows
    Daves Creek
  5. report print email
    Mayor Gravtt
    April 24, 2012 | 11:22 AM

    Mayor Gravitt made a major mistake by ousting Nydia Tisdale from the Cumming City Council Meeting. I do not write this out of disrespect for the Mayor of the Sheriff regarding the jail as well as this issue. Please read on.... This is the same man that at a panel discussion by Smart Growth literally told me publicly in front of the panel while standing up and walking in the panel discussion, and said to me five feet from me, that the best thing about America is that you can say what you want without going to jail. This was in response to my opposition to the new jail only for sensible reasons that the new 600 bed jail will be the largest building in downtown Cumming. So he opened that as his line to me in front of 30 people or so. I was simply objecting to the jail's location as it will plummet downtown business, retail, real estate values, etc. He then said publicly to me that it would help revitalize downtown and bring businesses downtown. This is not a correct assessment by Mayor Gravitt. With this kind of judgement exhibited then, and now the ousting of Tisdale, his judgement should seriously be questioned. If wishes to film any City, County, or any meeting, we will as an official legally chartered news corporation film. We do have the Constitutional Right of Freedom of The Press. Net News on May 1st, is unveiling its new site, with a channel locally dedicated to Forsyth County. We have already taped 20 news videos. It will be a matter of time when we produce news videos regarding this matter.

    Hugh Scott Shashy
    Founder & CEO,
    An Original Tea Party Patriot,
    Atlanta, Georgia, Founding City of National Tea Party Movement
    February 22, 2009 Founding Day of National Tea Party Movement.
    2/22/2009, Founding

    Hugh Scott Shashy
    Cumming, Georgia
    Replies to this comment:

    April 24, 2012 | 02:10 PM

    It was inevitable that this clash was to occur. Anytime you give an individual such power without any oversight, they begin to feel they are above the law. We have sat by and let career politicians drag us down, without demanding an accounting for their actions. Other council members and even the city attorney did not have the courage to stand up and say You are wrong. It is common knowledge that in any public situation be it a police traffic stop or just to watch the stoplight change from green to red you have the right to film anything you wish. The Mayor clearly violated this woman’s civil rights and now because the city attorney did not step in this has the potential to cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why? Because after nearly half a century at the helm of the city of Cumming, the mayor has changed it from a democracy to a dictatorship. One in which no one will question any decision that the Mayor makes. The city attorney had to know that Nydia Tisdale was well within her civil rights to record a public meeting. If he was not aware of it; why is he the city attorney? This is clearly a personal vendetta and the Mayor ordered his subordinates to do his dirty work. It’s a new world now and citizens are starting to demand accountability from their elected officials. It is long overdue. After 45 Years ruling the city of Cumming it is time for the Mayor to step down. Along with the City Attorney. It was his job to protect the city from libel to advise the council on legal matters. In any other position if you do not do your job you get fired. It is time to clean house across the board. I do not care what political party you are for or against. If a candidate has Incumbent next to his name he needs to be voted out so we can reclaim our government City, State, and Federal.

  6. report print email
    April 26, 2012 | 08:44 PM

    Since relocating to the area recently I cannot believe the politics that are practiced in Cumming this day and age. I recently heard about the sheriff and the 911 call this past January.I've heard there are closed door meetings between elected officials. Now the mayor violating this womans civil rights. I've also heard about how the sheriffs will bully citizens. I hope there is some justice in this town. The mayor and the city attorney and police chief need to step down for this recent incident. Beautiful place but cannot wait to relocate too backwards for me.

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