Two Macon city councilmen are facing formal complaints that they violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by discussing council committee appointments among themselves.
Since the “committee on committees” had only three members, councilmen Charles Jones and Larry Schlesinger constituted a quorum -- and it’s illegal for such a quorum to meet without public notice.
At least two, perhaps three, complaints have been filed since the Dec. 15 selection of new council committee members.
In that meeting, held to distribute permanent assignment to six committees among 15 council members, Council President James Timley noticed that both Jones and Schlesinger had brought identical lists of their preferences.
The two councilmen acknowledged having met, but Jones insisted that he had written his own list late at night. Eventually, they negotiated with Timley on a number of assignments, taking into account council members’ stated preferences.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens’ office has been notified, Director of Communications Lauren Kane said.
“We are aware of the situation and we are looking into it,” she said.
Councilman Rick Hutto said Monday that Olens’ office contacted him to verify details of the discussion.
One ethics complaint filed with the city, to be examined by Municipal Court Judge Robert Faulkner, comes from Stanley Phillip Brown Jr. He ran against Schlesinger for his Ward 3, Post 1 council seat this year, but lost the primary by a two-to-one ratio.
Brown’s complaint cites The Telegraph’s coverage, the Open Meetings Act, and 1 Timothy 3:2-7: “Now the overseer is to be above reproach ...”
Brown said he filed the complaint as a constituent tired of council’s “repetitive self-indulgence.”
“They ran on the premise that they were going to be a people’s council,” he said.
Schlesinger and Jones offered little comment in response.
“I’m sorry that the council (committee) election did not go the way that some on council wished it would, but I’m just going to focus on the business of the city, which is what the voters overwhelmingly elected me to do,” Schlesinger said.
Jones, apparently unfazed, just reiterated that he wrote his own list of committee assignments at 2:30 a.m.
Councilman Frank Tompkins said a third person has also filed a complaint.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.