Demorest Councilman Speaks Out Regarding City Issues

Demorest - The following is a press release from Demorest Councilman Nathan Davis who is seeking to provide information to the citizens of the City of Demorest regarding recent issues with the City Council, Mayor, and Police Chief.

Recent events in the City of Demorest have caused significant uproar and concern amongst our citizens.  This is understandable, and I share many of these concerns.  As an elected official, it is both my pleasure and my duty to represent the interests of our great citizens.  Recent events, including the termination of Police Chief Krockum and the hiring of Interim Police Chief Ellingson have occurred and the duty now falls to me, in an effort to protect the citizens of this community and the City that I call home, to be clear about my inadvertent involvement in actions which I now understand to have been improper.  

First, I want to admit my part in this situation and accept full responsibility for my actions.  I have unknowingly taken actions were not valid as a member of the City Council.  After discussing the full situation with legal counsel, I have determined that the best thing that I can do is to admit to the citizens of our City what has happened and to make adjustments in the manner that I conduct city business in the future.

In the spirit of transparency, I have learned that I have a legal duty and obligation to disclose actions that I have taken on behalf of the city of Demorest that fall outside of the ethical parameters of a councilman, and I want to take this opportunity to disclose those actions.  This is my disclosure, and I am releasing this written statement outlining those specific actions.  I want to directly address my responsibility for what I have done incorrectly.  At all times, I was without the benefit of legal counsel, until now, and I acted in what I believed to be in the best interests of our City.

It is not my place to speak about the reasons for which the City Manager chose to terminate Chief Krockum.  All I can say is that our City Code provides the City Manager with absolute authority to terminate city employees, including Department Heads.  

As a result of our City Attorney’s letter dated April 17, 2020 to our Mayor, City Manager, and the City Council explaining that he has a conflict which prevents him from advising us in any manner regarding the termination of Chief Krockum, I sought private counsel to advise me regarding matters that I participated in after Chief Krockum’s termination.    

After consulting with my private counsel, I learned the mistakes that I have made were outside of the ethical parameters of my duties as a trustee and servant with a fiduciary responsibility to the Citizens of Demorest.  For this, I apologize, acknowledge my mistakes, and state unequivocally that until I learned otherwise, I believed the actions I took were the proper course of action.

Before our City Attorney stated he had a conflict and was not able to advise us on any issues regarding the termination of Chief Krockum, I voiced my concerns about what I believed to be a general conflict that our City Attorney had because he represents our Mayor in his personal capacity while also representing the City.  I continue to believe the City Attorney has an inherent conflict as a result of his personal representation of the Mayor.  I addressed these concerns on various occasions.  From that point, I felt there was a breakdown of trust which made it difficult to seek the advice of our current City Attorney.  

After the termination of Chief Krockum, I had a phone call with Councilman Hendrix, his wife and the City Manager.  During the phone call, I was made to understand that a judge was needed to swear in our current Interim Chief Ellingson on the day of Chief Krockum’s termination.  

I now understand that our City Code outlines specifically that our City Manager does not have the authority to hire Chief Krockum’s replacement, but I acted outside our code by procuring a Probate Judge to swear in Chief Krockum’s replacement.  I now understand that confirming a new Chief of Police can only be done with a vote of confirmation of the counsel and a swearing in by our Mayor.

After Interim Chief Ellingson was sworn in, I participated in multiple meetings and conference calls with Councilman Hendrix and City Manager Simonds.

During these conference calls and meetings, we consulted with various privately procured and independent attorneys on how to proceed with what we felt was a conflict with our currently appointed City Attorney.  During these various conference calls and meetings in which I participated, it was our opinion that City Manager Simonds had the authority to enter into a contract and bind the City of Demorest to retain outside counsel.  After consulting with my private counsel, I was made aware not only that that action was outside of the authority of the City Manager but also the City Manager’s absolute lack of authority to bind the city to any contract without a Quorum and Affirmative Vote of the Council to confirm that contract.  During the various meetings we were informed by the various privately retained and independent attorneys that this action was, in fact, outside the City Manager’s authority.

I was also given emails to send to our City Attorney that were proofed by the Hendrix’s to be sent under my signature.  It was a mistake for me to send these emails. And I understand now that this was outside of my responsibility to act without outside influence as a Council Member.  When I sought the advice of my private counsel, I learned the extent of my mistakes and emailed my fellow councilmember and expressed that I could no longer participate in meetings that were outside the parameters of our fiduciary obligation as city councilmembers and in violation of various code sections that outline our duties and responsibilities.  

At all times, I have acted in what I believed to be the best interest of the City.  I have always tried to do the right thing, and I take full responsibility for my actions.   The Citizens of Demorest must be aware of all of these issues.  It is my sincere hope that, moving forward, we can work together in transparency, and within our legal and ethical guidelines, as required not only by the City Code but also by the Official Code of Georgia.