Camera activist on Mayor Gravitt’s quote



Dear Editor:

Congratulations to the Appen Media Group for the commemoration of 30 years of “connecting our communities.”
On page 27 in the April 24, 2013 edition of the Forsyth Herald, the city of Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt states in a full-page spread featuring his photo: “The city of Cumming wants to be transparent in all the things we do and the Forsyth Herald does a great job conveying our actions to the public.”
While I agree that the Forsyth Herald does an excellent job conveying important information to the public, Mayor Gravitt’s claim of “transparency” rings hollow when one reads the facts published in this fine publication.
In “Community activist's camera shut off,” Forsyth Herald editor Aldo Nahed captured the iconic photo of Cumming Police Chief Casey Tatum grabbing Nydia Tisdale’s tripod during the April 17, 2012 Cumming City Council meeting in which Mayor Gravitt commanded removal of Tisdale's camera — in spite of Georgia Sunshine Law allowing citizens to video record open and public meetings which states:
“The public at all times shall be afforded access to meetings declared open to the public ... Visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.”
Editor Hatcher Hurd wisely expressed his concerns with the mayor’s illegal actions in “Mayor Gravitt overstepped bounds of authority, civility” on April 23, 2012.
H. Ford Gravitt — individually and in his official capacity as mayor of the city of Cumming, Ga. — and the city of Cumming, Ga. are named defendants in the first lawsuit filed by Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens alleging multiple violations of the updated Open Meetings Act — effective upon signature by Gov. Nathan Deal on April 17, 2012 — due to the camera incident of the same date.
Mayor Gravitt, Police Chief Tatum, Deputy Police Chief Walter Cook and the city of Cumming are all named defendants in a second lawsuit filed in federal court by Nydia Tisdale alleging violations of her U.S. constitutional civil rights for removing her and her camera from a public meeting area.
The city of Cumming is a defendant in a third lawsuit filed by Tisdale in state court alleging an illegal land deal with Mayor Gravitt as the key player. The trial court judge in fact found violations of Georgia Open Meetings Act and the case is being appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court which will look at additional violations of the law.
Is this what Mayor Gravitt means by wanting “to be transparent in all the things we do?” How much money has Mayor Gravitt’s actions cost taxpayers to defend the mayor and the city?

Nydia Tisdale


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