OUR VIEW: Need of investigation into ‘disagreement’ between council members is embarrassing

Published 9:30 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

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Two weeks ago, on Sept. 1, LaGrange Mayor Willie Edmondson and the LaGrange City Council stood behind a podium at the LaGrange Police Department calling for an end to the violence that has plagued our community in 2023.

It was a serious moment, hopefully, the proverbial turn of the corner in a community that has seen so many shootings involving young people this year.  A 16-year-old and 17-year-old were killed in separate incidents this year and a 15-year-old was charged with murder, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Just days before the press conference, a man had been shot and killed taking a walk in the area of Sunny Point Access.

On the day of the press conference, LaGrange looked to its leaders for answers, for hope, for guidance as we work to make our community safer for all.

“We’re going to stop this violence in our city. Enough is enough,” Edmondson said that day.

It’s only been two weeks, and unfortunately, we’re already writing about more violence in our community.

But, we’re not referring to a shooting. Or a robbery. Or another violent crime.

Believe it or not, we’re referring to an alleged incident that occurred following Tuesday’s LaGrange City Council work session between two council members. Apparently, Leon Childs and Nathan Gaskin got into a heated incident that was so significant that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in. 

To be clear, the incident doesn’t appear to go beyond something the LaGrange Police Department would investigate. However, Chief Garrett Fiveash was concerned it would be a conflict of interest if the LPD oversaw the investigation, which makes sense considering the LPD reports directly to the council.  

The details of what exactly happened are unclear, though it appears the incident took place after the city council work session Tuesday. Gaskin is not talking, referring the LDN to an attorney. Childs spoke about what he alleged happened, not surprisingly blaming Gaskin.

We don’t know who to blame. But it doesn’t really matter.

It’s so embarrassing that it’s almost comical to consider these two leaders in our community acted this way when they couldn’t get along.

When a person is elected to the city council, they represent all of us.  

Instead of being a professional example of how to act and how to solve problems, Gaskin and Childs were apparently beyond the point of friendly conversation. But please children, solve your problems like adults.

When you consider all that has occurred in LaGrange over the last year — the investigation into a police department retreat that resulted in several disciplinary actions to be handed out and a captain to resign; the fire chief resigning after an investigation into improper conduct and indecent language; the public becoming aware of a dispute between the city manager and development authority — this is just the latest pillar to fall of the public’s trust.  

Childs and Gaskin let all of us down.

Regardless of the details, there is no excuse for a disagreement between two adult men to have gone that far. One may be in the wrong more than the other — we do not know — but regardless it’s hard to imagine how they are going to sit across from one another and put together a budget or handle day-to-day decisions needed for the city of LaGrange.

Is it even a good idea for both of them to be at the next work session or council meeting, considering a GBI investigation is likely still going to be ongoing and hanging like a black cloud over the entire meeting?

Both should consider stepping aside until the investigation wraps up.

You could argue, and we’re sure some will, that neither should continue on the city council, regardless of the investigation’s findings.  

We’re going to wait for the facts to emerge before taking that large of a step, but both should apologize and take a long look in the mirror.