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'Negative impact on our board': Macon Water Authority chairman calls for investigation into board members

Chairman Sam Hart says four board members may have violated state open meetings laws.

MACON, Ga. — For the second time this week, the Macon Water Authority looks to be in hot water.

Chairman Sam Hart says he'll ask Macon D.A. Anita Howard and Chief Judge Howard Simms for help in an investigation. He says four board members may have violated state open meetings laws.

Hart says last week, he received a formal complaint from a board member, alleging that four other board members were holding meetings outside of the regular Macon Water Authority meetings. That would be a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

"Last Friday, I received a formal complaint," Hart told board members to begin their Thursday special meeting. 

"We needed to stop that and it was having a negative impact on our board operations," he said Friday.

The Georgia Open Meetings Act defines a 'meeting' as a gathering of a quorum of members, where they discuss official business. A 'quorum' is the minimum amount of people needed at the meeting.

"Private kinds of conversations by a majority or quorum of the body is not allowed," explained David Oedel, a law professor at Mercer University.

Regardless of whether it actually happened that way, Hart says the optics aren't doing them any favors.

"There are four people on the same page when you get there, and there hasn't been any discussion, then it appears there has been some discussion but outside of the purview of the board," Hart said.

He says it's led to personnel issues, and loss of employees. He believes the situation may have led to former Executive Director Joey Leverette's resignation last week.

"When, you know, you don't appear to have complete support of your board, then it's certainly not a great place for you to work," he said.

Now, the water authority turns its focus to choosing a new director, as they wait for the D.A.'s answer.

Hart says the four board members may have also violated water authority bylaws. He says they may have conducted private feedback meetings with water authority employees, which is not allowed.

We reached out to D.A. Howard's office for comment. They did not immediately respond.

Hart would not name the four board members.

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