Lawsuit Filed Against Candidate for Local School Board President - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Lawsuit Filed Against Candidate for Local School Board President

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CHATHAM COUNTY, GA - First an ethics complaint, now Chatham County School Board President candidate David Simons has been sued for libel. It stems from the same e-mail WSAV uncovered on Wednesday, which also uncovers some problems for a number of current school board members.

As members of the Chatham County School Board broke ground on a new Hesse Elementary School on Thursday, the business of awarding the contracts to do the work comes to the forefront in a new lawsuit and raises difficult questions for some of these same board members.

In a suit filed in State Court Wednesday night, Michele Jervey of Satori Construction accuses school board president candidate David Simons of libel, or false and malicious attacks, to destroy her and her business' reputation. The key exhibit is an e-mail where Simons e-mails Chatham Schools Superintendent Thomas Lockamy and all five Caucasian members of the board, writing about Jervey saying, "...this needs to end sooner than later where these unscrupulous minority contractors hold the school board and the legitimate contractors over a barrel."

The accusation is that Jervey tried to use her status as a minority and woman owned business enterprise to negotiate better terms with a contractor bidding on the new Otis Brock Elementary School project; and that the contractor, Barton Malow, dropped out of the bidding when they couldn't come to terms with her. But in Exhibit A, Jervey's lawsuit produces a letter from the Barton Malow to the board, explaining they are dropping out of the bidding because,"...the costs to provide our construction services ... will jeopardize the project's stated cost limitations."

The lawsuit alleges Simon's motives come from working as a "community relations" contract employee of Rives Worrell, a Savannah construction company and competitor. But through the e-mail exchange, Simons also exposed conflicting relationships with the board members he's running to serve with. Simons' campaign contracted District Seven board member Jennifer Lambeth's husband to create his campaign website for more than $1,200. Lambeth maintained by phone she is not supporting a candidate in the school board president race.

District One board member Julie Wade and District Four President Shawn Kachmar both contracted Simons for just the type of consulting work that Simons appeared to be doing when he wrote to them. Wade has paid him more than $4,300 in consulting and other fees, while Kachmar has paid him more than $2,600.

"The fact that he's being paid by someone or not doesn't the way I look for an issue," said Kachmar. "If you want to make a conflict, I guess you can. If that were the case, then business in Savannah wouldn't happen," added Kachmar.

Both school board member Julie Wade and the plaintiff Michele Jervey declined comment. David Simons did not return our phone call for comment.


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