City Attorney Randy Nelson said Tuesday he has begun to carry out an investigation on the residency of District 6 City Councilwoman Marti Rutherford.
He told the City Council at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon he expects the probe will take about three weeks.
Attorney Nelson said he studied the matter and came to the conclusion that "it falls primarily on me."
He said in such residency questions that state law "says it primarily falls on me. It says the city attorney shall" handle the matter.
Attorney Nelson said, "I have no choice, and I will carry out an investigation."
In fact, he said he has been looking into the facts of the case since last Wednesday.
Councilwoman Rutherford made no comment at the meeting that was attended by a number of her supporters.
Attorney Nelson said that under prior court rulings votes cast by Ms. Rutherford are valid.
Citizen complaints have been filed that Ms. Rutherford is representing District 6 while actually living on Hemphill Avenue in District 5.
Ms. Rutherford said earlier she has a "mother-in-law apartment" on Alta Vista Drive in District 6 and has her legal residency there.
Community activist Floyd Kilpatrick said he planned to file a complaint with the city attorney alleging that Ms. Rutherford "has been accepting a gratuity." He said she is supposed to be paying rent on Alta Vista, but that has been waived for over two years. He said all she is paying is an $8 per month electric bill on Alta Vista.
Councilman Leamon Pierce questioned whether Ms. Rutherford should be allowed to stay on the council while the investigation is underway. He said it could drag on in court for a year or two.
He said, "You've got enough facts." But Council Chairman Dan Page said, "No, sir. I don't have the facts."
Councilman Pierce said in 2005 "there could have been an illegal act involving the purchase of property in order to run in an election."
He said, "I admire Marti and her supporters. She has done great work for her area." But he said there were concerns on the residency matter - especially in light of the 1989 lawsuit setting up city districts.
Councilman Pierce said, "Nobody knows where she lives. That's not our job to go out and investigate."
He said, "There shouldn't even be an investigition. If we let this get away, Pandora's box will be open. Somebody in Hixson can come out in Alton Park and run."
Community activist Johnny Holloway said the district attorney should be investigating an alleged violation of Ms. Rutherford's oath when she ran for office in 2005.
He said, "The city investigating the city is one of the craziest things I have heard. It's like me investigating whether or not I'm beating my wife."