COVINGTON, Ga. – Covington City Councilman Josh McKelvey made a statement Monday evening to provide clarification as to why he was not present when his name was called during the Friday, March 9 Anthony Avery appeal hearing in the Newton County Historic Courthouse.
The statement, as transcribed below, was prompted after two residents stood up during the public comment portion of Monday’s city council meeting with concerns. McKelvey responded to those concerns during the councilmember comments portion of the meeting. He did clarify initially that it was the county that terminated Avery, not the city.
“I’m not going to give too much detail because we’ve got litigation pending, but I wanted to, I guess, make the public aware because there’s a certain narrative going around town that isn’t exactly accurate,” McKelvey said. “I was kind of given a head’s up that things were going to be said to get the newspapers on it, and that’s fine. That’s what happens when you sit in this chair.
“I wanted to let everyone know, just like I let the council know right after this happened I gave them a call and let them know what happened, that Friday I met with the attorney that the insurance company provided from the city and we sat here, we talked for about two hours, we went to the hearing – an administrative hearing, it wasn’t a judicial hearing, there wasn’t a judge that issued a subpoena to me.
“I sat there in a witness room and had no idea what was going on for about four hours. I got there just about 1 p.m. and at 1 p.m. I walked in the room and they said ‘Hey, witnesses go to the back room.’ So, I went to the back room and sat there. At around 5:15 p.m. the attorney walked back and said ‘Hey, they don’t have any subpoena power to keep you here. You’re not under any obligation because you made yourself reasonably available.’
“At this point, I’ve already testified once. There’s a transcript that’s freely available to anyone that wants to put in an open records request. I’m not giving any details about what happened in the executive session that evening, but I’ve seen stuff floating around that’s been made available through open records requests. It’s all over the place. There’s nothing to hide.
“So, I don’t want to play any games or anything like that, I just letting you guys know my point of view and that there’s still pending litigation so I can’t really get into much detail. I left because there was no subpoena power for me to be there. Legally, I was not required to be there. I made myself available. There were other people that were subpoenaed that did not show up and after I had sat there all day, again spent six hours of vacation time again for this situation, I decided to leave. I had family obligations. My attorney had obligations to get home to.
“There was a miscommunication when he came back into the room at 5:15 and we talked. There were others in the room that felt like I got the same drift that ‘Hey, he just told you to leave.’ So there was a miscommunication there. That’s what happened. There was no nefarious reason. There was nothing to hide. I have nothing to hide. I’ll talk to anybody about it if you come talk to me.
“Like I said, I can’t give too much more detail other than that, but I wanted to tell you all my side of the story. I’ll leave it at that.”
Newton County held an employment appeal hearing March 9 for Avery. The hearing lasted more than five hours and the results from the hearing have not yet been released.