In a very strong showing, in the small town of Northern Georgia we discussed a few weeks ago, Varnell, citizens showed they were done fooling around with the city council nonsense, and told their sitting council that it’s time for them to resign.
To recap, Varnell Police responded back in June to an incident at Sheldon Fowler’s residence, who was then a city council member. It turns out that Fowler is sexually aggressive with his daugthers, and also makes fun of one for having learning disabilities. I don’t want to review the whole situation, but for your own benefit, here’s where you can read about Dad of the Year.
He refused to resign in lieu of the arrest, but then eventually did. The city council, in response to “one of their own” getting held accountable, decided that disbanding the police department was the correct action. The citizens had one word for it: wrong.
Not only was this not a popular move by city council, they also violated sunshine law requirements, because they misadvertised the special meeting where they took action. For one, the City of Varnell prior to this had a rare distinction for being a open, transparent city government, achieving the highest award given with the State of Georgia for the effort to be transparent.
This whole episode places that entire reputation in jeopardy, which was likely built by many council members and mayors prior to those currently serving. What a bad move by the current council.
At a special meeting called on July 25, 2017, the council could not achieve quorum, because as it turns out, one of the currently sitting council members who voted to disband the police department, doesn’t even live in the city limits, which is required.
Funny how following the rules seems to be so hard for this crop of city council members.
The person resigned prior to the meeting, because it’s been documented that they’ve lived outside of city limits since last year, and they cite being threatened, but it’s more likely they don’t want to face an ethics investigation that would have been carried out.
As far as the special meeting, the only council member in support of the police department was gone on a family emergency, so because there is no quorum, they had to postpone the meeting.
The two remaining council members left in shame, and rightfully so. They’ve tried to grind a political axe that no city council members are supposed to have, but sometimes are given for very stupid reasons.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is that this has played out this way. My theory is that the two council members in favor of disbanding will eventually resign. There’s no way they’ll be voted back in, and there’s no reason for them to stay in office now, since it is clear the citizens are going to take action to keep them from conducting any business. The citizens don’t trust these people. Nor should they. They want a police department they can trust, and they want to feel safe.
And they should have that piece of mind.