Tomorrow South Fulton elected officials will gather for a second time to hold an investigative hearing. The goal is to determine if Mayor Bill Edwards and Councilwoman Helen Willis made any missteps in their involvement with a deal between the Development Authority of Fulton County and Halperns’ Steak and Seafood. They are also accused of creating a hostile work environment.
The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. at City Hall, 5440 Fulton Industrial Blvd., in the break room. Space is limited.
Unlike the hearing on Dec. 10, there will be no hearing officer to oversee the proceedings. On Dec. 20, Mayor Edwards vetoed a section of the resolution establishing the hearing related to the hearing officer. He cited financial impact. The previous officer’s services totaled over $7,000.
In the absence of a hearing officer, the council will be presented with the evidence, close the proceedings and then decide if any reprimand, including removal from office, is warranted. Five votes will be needed to enforce any disciplinary action.
Special Attorney John Mrosek will serve as the prosecutor. Antavius Weems has been retained to represent Councilwoman Willis. George Lawson had been retained to represent Mayor Edwards, but has since fallen ill.
Among the evidence to be presented includes text messages between City Attorney Emilia Walker and Willis, videos of public meetings and conferences, meeting minutes from executive sessions, a summary from Alvin Nash, CEO of the Development Authority of Fulton County, and two resolutions.
The witness list includes the Mayor and Council, Attorney Walker, Halperns’ Harvey Busby, the process server and Nash. It’s unclear whether Mayor Edwards will appear. The process server was briefly detained by police outside of the Mayor’s home yesterday and was unsuccessful in issuing a subpoena.
Numerous efforts have been made to halt and delay the hearing. An emergency restraining order was filed on Dec. 26 by Edwards and Willis, and denied by a judge on Dec. 27.
Last minute attempts to stop the hearing tomorrow are likely.