The overflow crowd attending the regularly scheduled Fort Oglethorpe City Council meeting Monday night expressed an alphabet soup of emotions.
Demanding. Embarrassed. Fed up.
Unlike recent council meetings which from opening to closing gavel have lasted less than 30 minutes, last night’s meeting lasted nearly four times as long.
That was because one-by-one, a steady stream of residents and business owners stepped forward to address their elected officials during what the meeting agenda refers to as “citizens’ petitions and request.
Appeals and accusations, questions and comments all centered on the council’s decision Friday, March 22, to fire City Manager Ron Goulart, Chief of Police David Eubanks and Director of Public Works and Recreation Jeff Long.
Quoting her father, the late City Councilman Eddie Stinnet, Paula Stinnet said, “If it ain’t right, don’t do it,” in admonishing the mayor and council for what she considered “a sad day” that was the result of “good ole boy” politics.
“Men such as these should not be allowed to continue their reign of ethical injustice in the guise of authority,” Ms. Stinnett said. “Within the first hour of an interim city manager being appointed he dismissed long-term employees — how, without coaching?”
Where Ms. Stinnett called for the immediate re-instatement of those terminated by interim manager Harold Silcox at the behest of the mayor and a majority of the council members, others, including her mother, called for more: the resignation of three councilmen and the mayor.
Louise Stinnett, wife of the deceased councilman, was among those calling for the resignation of every elected official who supported Friday’s firings and like them, wore a badge emblazoned with the single word: recall.
To the council, Mrs. Stinnett said, “The public is ashamed of the fashion in which you represent us — you need to review your motives.”
To those in the audience, Mrs. Stinnett said, “Do not let these men run this city without your input.”
When the council recessed, and went into executive (closed door) session, Mrs. Stinnett said, “We’re going to keep working (for a recall election).”
The “we” referred to is a ad hoc group group that has a website, www.restoreforto.com. “managed by a group of concerned citizens ... committed to action by holding elected officials accountable and communicating regularly with concerned citizens” that intends to shepherd the public’s recall efforts.
After the meeting adjourned, Mayor Lynn Long was overheard to answer reporter’s questions by saying, “I will not resign.”