ELLISVILLE, MO (KTVI)-- It was a fiery conclusion to the Ellisville impeachment saga, Monday night.
After a marathon, week-long impeachment hearing, the Ellisville City Council voted to remove former Mayor Adam Paul from office.
After close to 3 hours of closing arguments from attorneys and council deliberations, there was a series of 5-1 “guilty” votes on abuse of power charges ranging from Paul intimidating and giving orders to city workers, including the police chief to Paul ducking a subpoena in the impeachment case.
Finally, there was the vote to remove him from office, also 5-1.
During closing arguments, Paul’s attorney, Chet Pleban, called the council majority a “lynch mob” and the “WalMart 5”. Then he and Paul walked out of the hearing.
They said e-mails showed the council majority made their decision about Paul long ago.
He said he would take the city to court.
“I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s been two months of damages; two months of people asking me because of drinking… I don’t make promises that I don’t keep. I made a promise to myself, my family, and to the residents of Ellisville that we’ll keep looking forward and moving forward,” Paul said.
Pleban quipped he was leaving to watch the NCAA Championship basketball game because that was a contest that hadn’t already been decided.
“I’ve got better things to do than to listen to 5 people who’ve already made up their minds make self-serving comments for the media,” Pleban said.
His prediction about Paul’s fate was ‘spot on’.
Ellisville residents seemed largely on the Paul’s side.
An attorney for the city argued it didn’t matter: under the city charter, the council had no choice but to remove Paul for abuse of power.
The council repeatedly dropped charges (even Monday night) like drinking on the job and releasing confidential information.
Paul has been at odds with the council majority, since his election in 2011. He won based largely on his opposition to tax breaks for a new WalMart.
Michelle Murray, a council member he beat in the mayor’s race, who voted to remove Paul, denied allegations of sour grapes .
“Not at all … no sour grapes. I wish that he had made some different choices in regards to our charter. we have a responsibility to uphold the charter; first and foremost that’s my duty to the citizens of Ellisville,” Murray said.
Murray admitted proceedings might have seemed rushed to avoid leaving the matter to newly elected council members who will be sworn in April 17th but she said that was as it should be.
“I think the time was appropriate absolutely.”
Council Member/Mayor Pro Tem, Matt Pirrello, who also voted to remove Paul, said, “why not wait? I can’t answer that question.”
Though he did expand on the point.
“We have a responsibility to act……we waited a long time in anticipation of behavior changing and meetings getting better and they didn’t…this is plain and simple an issue of an individual who consistently and repeatedly thwarted the will of the people by violating the charter…this is not something that one morning somebody woke up and said ‘hey let’s impeach the mayor’.”
Paul said he expected to return as mayor after a court fight.
“Absolutely. I’m hoping the circuit courts do an injunction or TRO (temporary restraining order) to stop this because it’s just been sloppy.”
The council majority removed Paul less than a week after 3 new members were elected; just 9 days before 3 of his opponents leave office.
Pirrello said he will continue as Mayor Pro Tem until the new council appoints a new mayor.