by: Mike Petchenik Updated:FULTON COUNTY, Ga —
A Roswell activist and blogger has filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office after she claims city officials wrongly told her to turn off her video camera during what was advertised as a public meeting.
Nydia Tisdale told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik she attended a City council work session on major changes to the city’s zoning laws in February.
After the council lost its quorum, the required number of elected officials to take an official vote, city leaders opted to turn the gathering into a staff meeting.
“They allowed the public to remain and asked me to turn my video camera off,” said Tisdale.
On the video, city administrator Kay Love can be heard telling Tisdale the meeting was no longer public.
“I was just requesting, we’re not recording any longer,” Love said on the tape. “From a staff meeting, or our discussions, we don’t record.”
Tisdale said she believes the city violated sunshine laws by making the request.
“You can’t have it both ways,” she said. “You can’t have an open meeting, with the public there, and also say it’s a closed meeting and your camera has to be turned off.”
Roswell Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Diamond told Petchenik she didn’t think the issue was a big deal.
“That was the bottom line. We lost the quorum. It was no longer a public meeting,” she said. “We can’t hold public meetings without a quorum. We wanted to make sure that everybody understood.”
Tisdale is currently suing the city of Cumming and its mayor, Ford Gravitt, after a 2012 incident in which the mayor ordered the city’s police chief to remove her from a City Council meeting she was recording. The case is still pending.
“I’ve been verbally attacked, physically attacked because of my camera,” said Tisdale. “These actions aren’t laughable. They’re not funny. They’re serious and they’re objectionable. People don’t like it.”
This week, Tisdale also asked the Forsyth County Sheriff’s office to investigate an incident last week in which she was kicked out of a Republican women’s luncheon. In that video, the secretary of the group, Peggy Green, could be heard telling Tisdale she wasn’t welcome at the event and had to leave. At one point, the video shows Green reaching for Tisdale’s camera to turn it off.
“We’re not a government agency and we can allow or disallow anyone from attending the event,” Green told Petchenik.
Green denied attacking Tisdale and said she was merely trying to turn the camera off after requesting Tisdale comply several times.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office confirms it’s investigating the allegations.