Douglasville voters will have their say on controversial councilman's comments

6:10 PM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
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DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- The Facebook posts by Dennis McLain have been shocking to some and considered inappropriate for an elected official by others.  But in two weeks voters in Douglasville will get to decide whether any of it matters.

For nearly three months now, councilman Dennis McLain has come under fire for posts made on his public page.   At first he defended his remarks, then after seeing how some in the community were reacting, apologized. 

He has issued a written statement to the local paper and apologized in person at council meetings.  But for some, it's not good enough. 

Several residents have filed a complaint asking for an ethics hearing.  They alleged McLain has violated the city charter, adversely impacting the confident of the public and the integrity of the government.

"In making those inflammatory statements bascially undermines his position as a city leader to govern," said William Boddie, the attorney hired to represent the residents.

One of the comments to come forward refers to President Barack Obama's skin color, another expresses shock that Tiger Woods doesn't like fried chicken.

But Boddie says the post that seems to get people the most upset references the Boy Scouts decision to allow homosexuals into the group.  It says, "Got to make room for the perverts. Can straight scoutmasters attend?"

"When you're making comments about scouts, scoutmasters, now you're dealing with children. children have nothing to do with what adults do," said Boddie.

McLain's Facebook page is now private.  When 11Alive caught up with him at his home, he declined to comment on the election or potential investigations hearing.

The city does have a social media policy that warns against using racial slurs or personal insults. But the policy is for employees, not elected officials.

Mayor Harvey Persons says the city is looking into whether it needs a policy specifically for elected officials. 

"We don't take anything frivolously with the city of Douglasville as it relates to ensuring the safety of our citizens, ensuring all people are treated fairly and equitably," said Persons.

Persons was careful in talking about the subject, not wanting to say anything that would influence the election or the city attorney's decision on whether to move forward with the ethics investigation request.

"Was it wrong or not wrong?  There's a process in place for that to be played out in and as I've said on many occasions it's my job to make sure the process works and it works properly," added Persons.

Some have questioned the timing of the complaint, arguing its politically motivated. The city attorney is expected to make a decision on whether the complaint can move forward before the next council meeting, which is just hours shy of election day.

Boddie disputes the claim.

"He chose to make these statements in an election year.  My clients didn't do that, the Mayor didn't do that, other members of the city council didn't do that.  So when you make statements in social media like that, that's the risk you take," Boddie said.

To can reach the reporter on this story by email at RLindstrom@11alive.com or Twitter @LindstromNews.

 

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