Another process begins to remove Chairman Deriso

Published 12:49 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

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The Cordele City Commission called a meeting on Thursday, December 1 at the Cordele City Hall at 4 p.m. to discuss a removal process for the Commission Chairman, Joshua Deriso. Commissioners Vesta Beal-Shepherd, Isaac Owens, Royce Reeves, Sr., and Wesley Rainey were in attendance. City manager, Angela Redding and City attorney, Tommy Coleman were also in attendance. Chairman Deriso presided over the meeting via speaker phone.

There were four items listed on the agenda. The first item was the consideration of the adaption of procedures for hearings concerning whether officers shall be removed from office pursuant to paragraph b (1) of section 5.16 of the City Charter of the City of Cordele. The item was properly moved, seconded, and approved. Commissioner Owens was the only vote against the agenda item.

Pursuant to section 5.16 of the City Charter of the City of Cordele is as follows:

  • The Chairperson, commission members, or other appointed officers provided for in this charter shall be removed from office for any one or more causes provided for in Title 45 of the O.C.G.A., or other applicable laws as are or may hereafter be enacted.

This can be accomplished by the following method(s):

  1. By vote of three members of the commission or by the chairperson and two members of the commission after an investigation hearing. In this event, such official wished to be removed by the commission members must receive a written notice specifying the grounds for removal. The city commission shall provide by ordinance for the manner in which such hearings will be held. Any elected official sought to be removed from office as herein provided shall have the right of appeal from the decision of the city commission to the Superior Court of Crisp County. Such appeal shall be governed by the same rules governing appeals to the Superior Court from the probate court.
  • Removal of an officer pursuant to subsection

The commission has 10 days to give notice to Chairman Deriso and conduct a hearing for the removal of the official outlining the process for a hearing and resolution.

The second item on the agenda included consideration of the adoption of a resolution appointing David A. Forehand, Jr., Attorney at law, as special counsel concerning the potential removal of Joshua Deriso as Chairman. This item was approved by properly moved and seconded with Commissioner Owens the only vote against the motion. “I have a question; how did we decide upon Mr. Forehand?” asked Commissioner Owens. City attorney, Tommy Coleman instructed the commission that Forehand, Jr. was consulted, chosen, and accepted the position prior to the meeting. David Forehand, Jr. is the active attorney leading previous lawsuits against Deriso and is the leading counsel concerned with this removal process. Forehand, Jr. was also present and in attendance of the commission meeting.

The third agenda item was the consideration of a resolution appointing Larry Mims as Hearing Officer in the hearing conducted pursuant to section 5.16 of the City Charter to determine whether Joshua Deriso should be removed from his position as Chairman of the Cordele City Commission. This agenda item was also properly moved, seconded, and approved. Commissioner Owens was the only vote against the motion which carried. “How did we go about choosing Mr. Mims for this purpose?” asks Commissioner Owens. “Mr. Mims is a retired State Court Judge from Tifton and I called him to ask him to reside over the hearing,” stated city attorney, Tommy Coleman, “the decision is ultimately made by the city commission and not by him.” Retired Judge Larry Mims from Tifton will preside over the removal process and hearing that must happen within the allotted 10 days. After the hearing, the commissioners will then vote whether to remove the Chairman from office.

Chairman Deriso can appeal the decision as well as the opportunity to present a case for himself.

The last item on the agenda was adjournment motioned and seconded with no further issues.