MORROW The Morrow City Council has stopped talking about possible sanctions against Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke less than a month after it began moving toward punishing him for criticizing the city’s planning and economic development director.
The council initially seemed poised to move quickly on a grievance filed against Burke for criticizing Planning and Economic Development Director Michael McLaughlin over a permit issue during a public meeting Oct. 23.
The council held an executive session Nov. 5 to handle the grievance, and it was then announced the council would make a decision Nov. 13. The next day, council members sent Burke a letter to tell him they had already decided he must apologize publicly to McLaughlin, the council and Morrow residents.
But, questions began to arise about whether the council violated Georgia’s Open Meetings Law to reach that decision because no public vote was taken to levy sanctions on the mayor. The law also requires any evidence against Burke be presented in an open meeting, and that has not been done.
Since then, council members have largely avoided the issue publicly.
In fact, the council has only publicly addressed the issue once since the executive session was held — and that was only after citizens pressed them for answers about the sanctions during the Nov. 13 council meeting. Council members told residents a decision had not yet been reached about Burke’s fate.
On Tuesday, “grievance” and “sanctions” and were seemingly forbidden words while residents and council members debated whether the state’s Sunshine Law was broken Nov. 5.