North Augusta resident sues City for violating laws governing access to information; judge sides with him

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF) — A North Augusta, South Carolina resident is suing the city for changes made during a council meeting. It’s a possible violation of laws governing access to information.

“But now I’m not only fighting for my rights, I’m fighting for the citizens of North Augusta,” Dr. Perry Holcomb told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.”It is for my friends, my neighbors, my acquaintances, and my love for my city. That’s why I did it,” he added.

Doctor Holcomb has lived in the North Augusta area for more than 50 years. He said that he’s been following local politics off and on for a number of years. After retiring, he’s now able to watch closly what’s going on. “I don’t care if it’s local or state or national. We have rights and they should be respected,” he said.

He filed a suit against the City of North Augusta and its Council. “It doesn’t surprise us I mean giving some of the backlash we’ve received over project Jackson and some other things,” City Councilman Eric Presnell said.

The suit, claiming the Freedom of Information Act was violated when the City Council amended a list of projects for capital projects sales tax IV adding money for the new Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam to the list – without emergency circumstances. “Mr. Holcomb laid out a scenario that I felt like did not satisfy the requirements of the statute and the spirit of the statute because his ability to participate had been limited through the process because that was my legal opinion. We pursued the case,” Dione Carroll, Esq. said.

Since the suit was filed, the City hasn’t post backup materials to its website before meetings. “Because if we change the wording in there, it could affect exactly that right there and vs or and there are some other things,” Presnell said.

Initially, an order in favor of the city was filed with notifications sent out.”We received that so now our action, according to our attorney in Columbia, would be to do a reconsideration with the judge and then if necessary, appeal the decision to a higher court,” Presnell added.

Now with the correct orders filed, it’s a wait and see stance from both parties. “We expect to defend it vigorously because Mr. Holcomb is very committed to this decision and to the cakes that he brought. So, we will adjust according to the circumstances,” Carroll added. “I’m really and truly just hoping that we can get this matter behind us so we can move on. If it’s determined either way that we know how to proceed,” Presnell said.

Meanwhile, city officials say they are waiting to find out when that reconsideration could take place.

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