The City Council called a special meeting Monday to hold an ethics hearing for Mayor Lee Stuart, who is accused of violating the city's charter.
The hearing was played out just like a court case with two sets of attorneys, witnesses being called to the stand, but instead of a jury with regular citizens, the jury was the City Council.
The attorney hired by the council to investigate, first called the mayor himself to the stand and tried to call him out for allegedly spying on city employees' emails.
"The people he targeted for email surveillance were people opposed to what he was doing. Opposed to how he conducted himself," said attorney Chris Balch.
Then things heated up when witnesses took the stand accusing the mayor of harassing female employees.
Kathy Gilbert is a former City Council member who claims to have witnessed some of the harassment. "He referred to the current city clerk as 'a fat lazy old hag,'" said Gilbert.
Balch said that's just one example, but it represents all of the others. "What that comment indicates to me and what the reasonable inference from it is that he has animosity towards women," said Balch.
But the mayor's attorney, Joseph Cloud, said that's just not true.
As for the emails, Cloud said the surveillance was justified and that the mayor was told it wasn't a violation.
The mayor's attorney said it's all politics. "Frankly we think this is unprecedented under Georgia law where three City Council members can vote for an investigation and then those same council members can vote him out once investigator does what they're paying him to do," said Cloud.
Some citizens who support the mayor said it's not just political but racial and an attack against the poor. They said having this hearing is a big mistake.
Bruce Smith was one of many angry citizens who showed up for the hearing. "I think it's a colossal waste of time. It's going to cost the city a whole ton of money because all I've seen so far is just political bickering," said Smith.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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