Forest Park Mayor David Lockhart
By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — Mayor David Lockhart has filed suit in Clayton County State Court seeking damages from women he alleges are responsible for an anonymous letter left outside city hall Monday night.
Almost 200 residents entering council chambers for the regular meeting Monday night passed by a box filled with papers left on a brick planter with a note "take one" taped to it. Inside the box were copies of a two-page document alleging things Lockhart had said or done. Nearly everyone at the meeting picked up a copy of the stapled document.
Among other things, the document alleges Lockhart used a racial slur during a recent National Day of Prayer breakfast at the National Archives in Morrow.
Presented with the missive during the meeting, Lockhart denounced the accusations as "lies and cowardice" and challenged the author to step forward and be recognized.
No one did.
However, Lockhart later asked the police department to pull the surveillance tapes from cameras posted at the entrance. A review of the tape shows a woman carrying the box to the planter, taping the "take one" sign to it, picking up a copy and walking away. The woman was reportedly identified as Joy Diane Trammel Church.
Lockhart sued Church and a second woman, Lenora Dove, also identified by the last names Turner and Gilley, Wednesday, seeking damages for alleged libel. Both are Forest Park residents.
It is unclear if either woman has legal counsel. They could not be reached for comment Thursday. Lockhart, an attorney, is representing himself.
"The suit speaks for itself," said Lockhart Thursday. "I have no further comment."
Former Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams, who lost to Lockhart in an April runoff, said she was disappointed in the letter’s accusations.
“After reading the letter, I’m appalled at the content and really concerned about the direction Mayor Lockhart is taking our city,” she said. “The use of the ‘n’ word is not acceptable in any context, specifically for the leader of a diverse community that campaigned and voted for him.”
The document starts out asking, "What has the citizens of Forest Park gotten into? The majority have been snowed into thinking transparency is the rule of thumb for the new administration. How transparent was the first Council Meeting of the new administration when they added an agenda item to develop a new committee to look into a new museum but instead bumbled the wording during the actual Council Meeting to instead illegally fire the City Attorneys of Mack and Harris."
It goes on to allege Lockhart has aligned with strip club officials to bring them back into the city. As city attorneys, Robert Mack and Joe Harris helped orchestrate restructuring of the adult entertainment centers ordinances, which effectively shut them down.
Representatives of Pink Pony South and Crazy Horse Saloon, under Galardi Enterprises, have filed 15 suits against the city, 13 of which they have lost. The remaining two are unresolved.
The letter-writer claims to have attended the fall 2011 hearings that led to the clubs' closures.
"I went to some of those hearings, a lot of people should have to see why they were closed to begin with," stated the letter, which offered a speculation, "We could rename the city to Forest Park-Strip Club Capital of Metro Atlanta. It would be good for business. We do have a lot of vacant buildings to accommodate the increase in Adult Entertainment.
"Wake up, fellow citizens, let your council people know you will not stand for this," it continued.
The document includes a widespread allegation that Lockhart met with Galardi officials in the back room of an auction house in Stockbridge. However, the document doesn't speculate on the conversation.
The document also accuses Lockhart of using a racial slur, commonly known as the "n" word, in a conversation with another Clayton County elected official during the National Day of Prayer breakfast held at the National Archives in Morrow.
"One reason he ran for Mayor was to keep the (racial slur) from running Forest Park," stated the letter. "I am sure myself and the other citizens of Forest Park wonder what context was meant by that statement."
The letter ends with, "Wake up citizens. Ask the hard questions before it is too late and we become the Strip Club Capital of Metro Atlanta. Wake up, People, From a concerned citizen of Forest Park."