Blue Ridge, Ga. – The recent censure of Council Member Nathan Fitts could lead to legal proceedings that would cost the taxpayers of Blue Ridge.
Fitts’ personal lawyer and previous City Attorney for the City of Blue Ridge, R. David Syfan, sent an Anti Litem Notice (intent to sue) to those members of council, including the Mayor, who pursued and voted in favor of the censure.
“Honestly I sit here as a council member embarrassed to even have to discuss these items,” Fitts said informing the public that an Anti Litem Notice had been sent.
Among those to receive the notice were Mayor Donna Whitener, Council Member Mike Panter and Council Member Robbie Cornelius.
Fitts claims that there has been a series of harassment leading up to the censure in an attempt to silence him for bringing alleged wrongdoings by the Mayor and Council to light.
Through this harassment, Fitts says that he has had to defend his name and reputation over “falsified information”. Fitts stated that the council needs to focus on the City Charter and the law and quit pursuing personal vendettas.
“Not one piece of evidence. Not one fact. Not one incident that can be proven has still to this day come out,” Fitts said of the censure and added according to the City Charter, “You don’t need to censure me. Remove me from office but you better prove I did something wrong.”
Fitts spoke before the vote of censure that took place during the Feb. Blue Ridge City Council meeting. It was during this time that he read a letter from his attorney, Syfan, stating that the censure would not only be violating the City Charter but also Fitts’ civil rights.
The Anti Litem Notice reiterates this stance stating:
“The due process requirements of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution would require appropriate advanced written notice of the alleged violations, and evidentiary hearing in which the alleged evidence of the alleged violation could be presented, and which would allow the accused Councilmember to have the ability to be represented by an attorney at the public evidentiary hearing and have cross examination of witnesses, and review any documentary evidence.”
The Anti Litem Notice goes on to cite the Georgia “Whistleblower Law”, stating that Fitts brought to light the actions of Council Members and Mayor and that the censure is an attempt at retaliation.
“At the very least they acted negligently in attempting to impose injury upon Mr. Fitts,” states the notice, “and in the context of the whole situation, they also acted maliciously and oppressively.”
The letter asks for the council to “rescind the censure motion and publicly apologize” and states several times that Fitts does not wish to proceed with the lawsuit unless necessary.
Council and Mayor have been given one month to rescind the censure and the issue is expected to be addressed at the next Blue Ridge City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.