South Fulton mayor under fire after recording executive city meetings
Some council members want a temporary restraining order placed on Khalid Kamau.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - As the South Fulton, Georgia, city council sues to remove its mayor, a Fulton County judge heard some of the beginning arguments Tuesday.
In March, five of the city’s six councilmembers filed a lawsuit to kick Mayor Khalid Kamau out. But before that portion of the case continues, Tuesday’s hearing was about a temporary restraining order; the city wants a judge to get the mayor to stop recording executive confidential council meetings.
“There’s no specific guidance to the mayor and public as to what the city council deems confidential and that’s kind of the problem that started this whole thing, city council plaintiffs using executive session for backroom politics,” Kamau attorney Charles Hoffecker said.
While absent from Tuesday’s hearing, Kamau has argued he has every right to record executive meetings. Hoffecker maintained the recordings help hold city council members accountable.
“It’s interesting to suggest that ‘we’re surprised we’re here, why can’t everyone follow the rules,’” Hoffecker rhetorically asked. “If everyone on the city council was following the rules we wouldn’t be here.”
The councilmembers suing the mayor allege this is simply another stunt in Kamau’s attempt to undermine his colleagues. Carmalitha Gumbs, Corey Reeves, Jaceey Sebastian, Natasha Williams, and Helen Willis are the plaintiffs.
“This is not politics,” attorney Josh Belifante, who is representing the plaintiffs, explained. “This is something that is impairing the ability of the city to conduct its business.”
RELATED COVERAGE FROM AWARD-WINNING INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER CIARA CUMMINGS
The March 7 lawsuit alleges Kamau has “held the city hostage” since he took office. The lawsuit cites the mayor issuing vetoes; calling the police department corrupt; and demanding the resignations from city manager, city clerk, and city attorney when he was sworn in.
The temporary restraining order the council is seeking would force Kamau to stop recording closed council meetings.
Williams and Sebastian testified when Kamau recorded private meetings, he shared the information with the public that ruined a real estate business deal. Also in March, the South Fulton city council passed an ordinance to make the offense punishable as a misdemeanor.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Emily Richardson made no ruling after about two hours of debate.
Kamau also faces criminal charges for allegedly trespassing onto a neighbor’s property a few weeks ago.
At the time of his arrest, Kamau said he thought the home was abandoned when he entered.
If there’s something you would like Atlanta News First Investigates to dig into, fill out this submission form.
Copyright 2023 WANF. All rights reserved.