Merry appeals Overstreet's abstention ruling

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

If at first you don't succeed...

Augusta government watchdog Woody Merry and his attorney Joe Neal have announced they'll try again.

"We're going to give one hell of shot. We're going to Atlanta. I'm going to argue this in front of the Supreme Court," said Neal.

They're asking Georgia's Supreme Court to force the mayor's hand.

Even though Judge Carlisle Overstreet denied Woody Merry's petition to end abstentions in the Augusta Commission, Merry originally claimed that the ruling, which clarified the mayor's power to change an abstention to a yes or no vote, was a victory.

But now he says commissioners are making up their own rules, and it's time to take things one step further.

"We still do not have a properly elected mayor pro-tem after 100 days," Merry said.

Merry and Neal say nothing's changed since the judge's ruling, and that's why they want to take their case to a higher court.

"We're going to ask the Supreme Court of Georgia to issue a mandamus to order the commission to hold an election for mayor pro tem and elect somebody lawfully," said Neal.

Merry says some commissioners have misinterpreted the judge's order and are now abstaining or voting present just because they can.

"Commissioner Hatney abstained 11 times, voted present 5 times, out of the room 7 times, not voting one time," Merry said.

Merry says Mayor Copenhaver has also ignored the judge's order by not using his power. Merry claims Copenhaver is avoiding controversy, as he's up for re-election.

"That is unbelievable to me," Copenhaver said.

Copenhaver says he will only use his power on issues that move the city forward.

He says Merry's appeal may only hinder such progress.

"It hurts our economic development efforts to have all this uproar. It's sad that we're continuing to create this controversy and bring it upon ourselves," Copenhaver said.

And while the commission could be headed back to court, Marion Williams says this time he sees no need to spend money defending himself.

"I don't have no reason to get an attorney," Williams said. "I don't need to do anything. I'm the mayor pro-tem and I'm going to be the mayor pro-tem."

We were not able to reach Judge Overstreet to get clarification on his ruling or his reaction to the appeal.

If there is a date set for this case by the Supreme Court...we will let you know.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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