Attorney Tony Powell, Senior Litigation Partner of Webb, Tanner & Powell, addresses
$28,610 spent to oust mayor, costs rising as 2nd attorney hired
Dawsonville City Council hired a second attorney as impeachment proceedings for Mayor James Grogan continued to move forward. Despite an earlier motion by Councilmember Mike Sosebee to rescind the action to remove Grogan citing costs to taxpayers—which died due to a lack of a second—the council voted to hire attorney Tony Powell.
According to Dawsonville City Clerk Bonnie Warne, the city has spent over $28,610 from March 2017, when the process began, to the end of May. The largest cost so far has been attorneys’ fees with roughly $16,286 paid to City Attorney Dana Miles and over $10,000 paid to Abbott Hayes, who conducted the initial investigation of alleged wrongdoings. The money is coming from the General Fund Reserve, Warne said in an email to Smoke Signals and “not liking [sic] to run out.”
Powell, who has been city attorney for several municipalities in the state will represent the council because “the interest of the council is different from that of the city,” he said. Powell said he is “very familiar with the procedure, not just in the context of council role, but also in any appeal that comes from a judicial decision” and has litigated those issues “successfully.”
“You can tell by the cadence in my voice and my comfort here that I’m not a troublemaker,” he said. “I like to be a peacemaker. I do believe in justice.”
Powell currently serves as a Lawrenceville city councilmember.
A motion to hire Powell was made by Councilmember Angie Smith, seconded by Councilmember Caleb Phillips. The only discussion that followed was a statement by Grogan, who was concerned about the cost of pending litigation.
“A great deal of litigation means money, money, money, and that’s what this is about,” Grogan said. “There’s a way to settle all this. We don’t have to litigate everything. So I just ask that we remember what we’re doing here and how much money we’re going to spend over the next whatever period of time it will be. It’s never been done in the State of Georgia to my knowledge and to my attorney’s knowledge. I’m not ever going to give up.”
The council voted unanimously to hire Powell.
In other business:
- The council approved an ordinance for annexation fees and tabled a request to amend existing zoning stipulations for the Len Reeves property on Maple Street South.
- Beverly Bannister was appointed Deputy City Clerk and three Downtown Development Authority positions were filled by Tim Costley, Kevin Hammond, and Misty Moore.
- City Clerk Bonnie Warne was the recipient of the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Finance Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.