Last week, the paperwork on a City of Dahlonega settlement proposal was signed by both Ariemma and Mayor Gary McCullough as the city agreed to halt an ongoing removal process of the accused council member in exchange for certain concessions.
It was a process that began in December of 2010 when Ariemma was accused of threatening the employment of city code enforcer Tim Martin while also harboring retaliatory plans against city manager Bill Lewis.
Ariemma has denied these charges.
On Monday, the city received a signed letter from Ariemma in which he acknowledged that his actions were “deemed inappropriate.”
“I regret that his situation has occurred,” stated the signed letter. “I have learned from this experience and believe that it will benefit me in my future dealings.”
The letter reiterates an apology made by Ariemma in a city council meeting last month as well.
“I have apologized in an open council meeting and reaffirm that apology as part of this letter and will abide by the terms of the settlement,” stated Ariemma. “I am glad this issue is settled and I can devote my full attention to being an effective and productive council member.”
Those terms dictate that Ariemma is to limit his interaction with city employees and participate in a Georgia Municipal Association approved “management/staff relation training.”
Shortly after the accusations surfaced, Ariemma secretly recorded a conversation with Martin in which the city code enforcement officer responded to Ariemma’s questioning by saying he did not feel threatened by the councilman’s comments.
As a result, the settlement orders Ariemma to cease any covert recordings of council members or city officials.
Ariemma also agreed to pay the reported $34,000 in legals fees which resulted in two successful challenges of the city’s removal process.
The most recent decision was made by retired Judge Hugh Stone who deemed the process “unconstitutional.”
This settlement proposal will not be completely finalized until Stone agrees to “vacate” that ruling.
“In the event the judgement is not vacated within 30 days of the date of this agreement, this agreement shall be rendered null and void,” states the document.
On Monday, McCullough declined to comment on the settlement proposal until it was finalized.
Meanwhile, Ariemma told The Nugget that he will be glad to have the controversy behind him.
“We both made concessions on all sides,” he said. “I don’t have any animosity toward anybody and through this we’ve maintained a good relationship. You can tie this up in court for the next four to five years and there’s just no reason to.”