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AG’s office clears Ludowici in open-records case

Resident who sparked investigation suggests audit, plans to run for mayor

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POSTED: March 12, 2011 7:00 a.m.

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office ruled last week that allegations claiming the city of Ludowici violated the Open Records Act were unsubstantiated.
 “I wasn’t really that worried about it because I knew we hadn’t done anything wrong,” Ludowici Mayor Myrtice Warren said.
The AG’s investigation came after Ludowici resident Janice Goode contacted the state office claiming that the city had conducted “illegal and unethical behavior by elected officials in the city of Ludowici.”
Goode’s allegations questioned elected officials voting on measures that affect city employees who they are related to, the mayor’s pay and the manner in which city county meetings were being recorded. Goode said she believed Ludowici committed 27 ethics violations.
In a letter from Stefan Ritter, the senior assistant attorney general at the state office, he ruled that “there is no clear-cut evidence that the city has violated the Open Records Act.” 
Goode, however, disagrees with the ruling.
 “They did violate the Open Records Act, and the only reason that the attorney general’s office said what they did is because the city only gave me the information I asked for after the attorney general’s office told them to,” Goode said.
Warren’s response: “We tried to work with her (Goode) to provide her any information that she wanted, and we’ll continue to do so for her or anyone else in the city.”
Although the case is closed for the AG’s office and the mayor, Goode isn’t satisfied with the decision and said she plans to continue to hold the city accountable.
 “I think that they misappropriated funds, and I will keep digging until the truth comes out,” Goode said.
Goode also said she thinks a state audit is needed and even would run for public office to see that it takes place.
 “I have an appointment with the DA’s office (in Hinesville), and I will continue to do what I have been doing until an audit takes place. I’ve already decided that I’m running for mayor, and it’s all because of what I’ve discovered over the last year,” she said.
Warren said the city will continue to follow the professional advice it receives.
“Whether it is with pay, hiring or any of the city’s business, we only do what our attorney says we can do” he said. “We have never been questioned by our auditor regarding something being wrong, so we’ll keep listening to him and doing what he recommends and doing the right thing.”

 

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