Politics & Government

City of Gordon settles with editor arrested during meeting

The city of Gordon has reached a monetary settlement with a newspaper editor who was arrested during a City Council meeting this past spring.

Following a closed meeting Monday, the council voted to pay $45,000 to Judy Bailey, who was covering the April 6 meeting for the Wilkinson County Post when she was ordered to leave. When she refused, she was arrested. Bailey is editor of the Post and the Baldwin Bulletin, which covers Milledgeville.

Bailey was arrested after a woman in the audience spoke during the meeting and criticized Bailey’s reporting on Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue. When Bailey spoke up, Whipple-Lue ordered Bailey to leave the meeting. When Bailey refused, a police officer placed her under arrest.

The council voted 4-2 Monday to settle the case, with Doretha Whipple and Barbara Towles opposing. Councilman Terry Eady confirmed the $45,000 settlement amount.

Last year the Georgia Municipal Association canceled the city’s liability insurance due to what it said was unacceptable risk because of “dysfunction” among city leaders. Therefore, the settlement is coming out of city funds.

Both Whipple-Lue and City Attorney Joe Boone declined comment. Boone said the settlement has not yet been signed. Bailey deferred comment to her attorney, Charlie Cox of Macon.

Cox said Bailey’s arrest was illegal.

“I’m glad we got it resolved, and I’m hopeful the city will approve a policy so that arbitrary decisions of who is and isn’t excluded from a meeting will not be made,” Cox said.

Bailey had not filed a lawsuit, but her attorney sent the city a letter announcing her intentions to sue for $65,000.

When she was arrested, Bailey was charged with obstruction of an officer, but that charge was later dropped.

In a video of the settlement vote that was posted on the Facebook page of Concerned Citizens of Gordon, Whipple-Lue said she did not agree with the settlement and would not sign it. The council then voted, by the same 4-2 margin, to have Eady, the mayor pro-tem, sign the agreement.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.