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Marilyn Swinney: 'The Judge Will Decide'

The citizen who the mayor stopped from speaking at a public council meeting is pursuing legal action.

is pursuing legal action against the mayor after she had her microphone cut off during the public comment section of Monday night's council meeting.

"Enough is enough," she said.

She met with a lawyer to discuss violations of her first amendment rights.

"I am pursuing it, and am going to let a judge decide," she said.  

At the time set aside for public comments, Swinney planned on saying she was surprised at the mayor's report.

"And that was as far as I got," she said.

Her plan, she said, was to question the mayor's assertion that she did not believe in the council.  Swinney wanted to cite specific examples of successes the council has had:  the Farmers' Market, Snellville Tourism and Trade, the community garden, and a successful fundraiser for Aimee Copeland.  

was the latest in a string of positive things, according to Swinney.

"I never got to say any of that," she said.

Instead, she was so flustered and embarrassed, she barely remembers what she said.

"I felt intimidated," she said.  "I felt humiliated.  I wanted the ground to swallow me up."

 Mayor Kelly Kautz said that when Swinney came to the podium, Kautz "knew where it was going."

"I asked for the mike to be turned off so that she would listen to me," she said.  "I reminded her of our personal decorum policy, and then had the mike turned back on."

This can be seen in the video. 

There have been instances in the past where members of the public have made comments about council members, including the Mayor, that were not in line with the public decorum policy, yet they have been allowed to continue. 

In one instance, a citizen called councilman Tom Witts a "liar" and "cheat." 

"Should I have enforced it a lot sooner?" Kautz asked. "Probably."

Snellville Reacts

A number of council members voiced their opinions on the scandal in the Snellville Patch comment section. 

"I will not allow Mayor Kautz to pull me into this situation by claiming that her actions were to protect me against George Anderson," wrote council member Tom Witts. "I believe she is just trying to divert the issue to me."

Witts referred to Kautz's statement that she would enforce the public decorum policy from now on in all situations, not just her own.  (Anderson is a government watchdog who is and plans on attending next month's council meeting.) 

Kautz said she sent a letter to Anderson outlining the public decorum policy. 

"After this past Monday nights meeting I approached the Mayor and put her on notice that she had better treat George Anderson the same way she treated Ms. Swinney," Witts continued.  "It was only well after I put her on notice that she authorized a letter to Anderson." 

Council member Bobby Howard went so far as to issue a public apology to Swinney, saying that "you (Swinney) can be sure that I will be vigilant in my desire for the City of Snellville to continue to move forward in a positive direction and I hope that you Ms. Swinney will continue to be vigilant in your quest for justice in this matter." 

Antony Bordoli July 29, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I live in Snellville and although I now get the Snellville patch newsletter this was the first story that caught my attention to even bother to read. I was shocked that this po-dunk town even has the resources to have a mayor. I've lived her since 1988 and have never seen sight or hair of the existence of one. And we're wasting resources with video and audio support to council meetings? As small as Snellville is, we could just have the meetings in someone's living room. I jest, of course. Anyway, turning off the mic during a public comment was way out of line. Can you sue the government, btw?
Crystal Huskey July 29, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I am not sure yet what type of legal action Ms. Swinney is pursuing, but I know that Mayor Kautz can personally be sued. I guess we'll find out as the situation progresses. With that being said, I've lived in a couple of towns that had more cows than people, so I don't consider Snellville to be podunk ;) It actually has a lot to offer, and there are quite a few things in the works to improve it even more. Hopefully Snellville Patch will bring you more stories worth reading! Thanks for your comment Antony.
marlene buchanan July 31, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Snelllville has grown rapidly, especially in the last 10 or so years. When I moved here 40 years ago the town had a good city government. Through the years, I have followed the trends and squables of the council. You will have disagreements among members of the council and the public. That is inevitable. Things usually resolve themselves for the benefit of the citizenry. I am ashamed that our council and epecially our Mayor is not familiar with Roberts Rules of Order and basic courtesies. I feel the power has gone to the head of the Mayor and others and clouded their vision and common sense and basic manners.
Elaine Hazelrigs Manross August 02, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Go Ms. Swinney! I know you and the mayor should have known better, go get him!!
agnes magri August 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Well did everyone else had a chance to speak with a microphone,, if so Ms Swinney should have been allowed the same priviledge..

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