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January 17, 2014

Local resident calls out Tifton mayor

TIFTON —

At Thursday night’s Tifton City Council workshop/called meeting, during the discussion of signage when citizens had an opportunity to speak, city resident Eloise Styer said she believes Mayor Jamie Cater may be in violation of the state law due to a comment he made at an Oct. 10 workshop concerning him losing a business due to signage. Researching this matter, she said Cater, who is a public official, should recuse himself if this is the case when voting on signage.

The City Council has decided to postpone the discussion on proposed signage revisions in the city and Historic District.

Styer quoted the Official Code of Georgia, annotated. She said it states “a public official may never take any official action with regard to any matter under circumstances in which he knows or should know that he has a direct or indirect monetary interest in the subject matter of such matter or in the outcome of such official matter.”

“Thus, the mayor stated monetary interest in the outcome of the signage issue appears to me to require that he recuse himself from further involvement in the (Historic Preservation) signage issue. Any action other than recusal will place him out of compliance with state law or at the very least, will present the appearance of noncompliance,” Styer said.

She added that she sought an opinion from a Georgia lawyer outside of Tift County who has both taught and practiced law.

“This lawyer reviewed the video tape of the Oct. 10 workshop and concluded that there is no doubt that the mayor should recuse himself from this issue,” she said.

City attorney Rob Wilmot said he would have to go back to review the video of that meeting and the code that Styer quoted. He told Cater, who listened in on the meeting from a speakerphone, that some research on the issue had already been done, but they may want to look into it a little further.

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