Forest Park denies alcohol sales Christmas, Easter

The Forest Park City Council voted last night to approve Sunday alcohol sales, effective Dec. 1, but not on Christmas or Easter.

Councilmembers were unanimous in deciding to change the city's current ordinance prohibiting Sunday sales. City Manager John Parker said the change reflects the will of the people.

"Our ordinance did not allow Sunday sales in any way, shape, form or fashion," said Parker. "Changing the ordinance will allow the city to implement the law as passed."

Forest Park voters decided 368-331 to allow the council the authority to approve Sunday sales from 12:30 p.m., to 11:30 p.m.

The Nov. 8 election was not without controversy in Forest Park. Votes had to be tallied manually on an adding machine, because the electronic ballot counter was broken. "Human error" in the vote tabulation led to faulty totals, said Elections Superintendent Dave Painter.

The initial count showed that the alcohol referendum failed. Parker said it was Wednesday morning when officials realized that the votes exceeded the number of voters casting ballots. A recount was done twice.

"We did a recount and got totals different from Tuesday night," he said. "We called the Secretary of State's Office and asked for an investigator to come and do a second count. That count matched our recount and the election results were certified."

Despite the certification, Ward 5 Candidate Warren Gerton filed suit in Clayton County Superior Court last week, challenging the results. Gerton lost his bid to unseat incumbent Linda Lord, 161-142. The suit alleges 16 counts of "inappropriate and possibly even criminal behavior on the part of city officials in the handling of last Tuesday's municipal election."

"This is not about me losing the race," said Gerton. "This is about the citizens of Forest Park losing their voice and their vote, if something inappropriate went on."

Ward 4 incumbent Don Judson, 80, died unexpectedly five days before the election. Mayor Corine Deyton said Monday that Judson will be missed.

"We had a tremendous loss of a good man," she said. "He served Forest Park for a good many years."

Judson was challenged by Latresa S. Akins and Lillian Holloway. The recount showed Akins to be the winner, 105-56. Judson got 60 votes –– 50 on Election Day. Ward 3 incumbent Maudie McCord ran unopposed for her second term.

Mack said the council discussed the lawsuit Monday night during a closed session.

"The city will file an answer, but there is really no basis," he said. "We'll deal with that in the courts. We expect the city to prevail."

In other action, Forest Park Management Analyst Angela Redding unveiled the city's new web site. Redding said improvements over the previous site include the ability for city officials to post photos, and put events on a calendar. Redding said the site is compliant with the Americans with Disability Act in that the font size can be increased for users who are vision-impaired.

The new site includes information on business development, including the ability for the city to post Requests for Proposals and Notice to Request Qualifications. The city's principal employers and company links are also posted.

Residents can find information on renting recreation facilities. The police department's site will feature a memorial page to honor fallen officers and information on crime reports in the city.

The city's web site can be accessed at www.forestparkga.org. Redding said the site should be live by the end of this week.