In front of a council chamber filled to capacity, the Ellisville Council voted 5-0 to suspend Mayor Adam Paul from office for 45 days while an investigation is launched into allegations that he should be removed from the post permanently.
The vote followed emotional comments from more than a dozen residents, all of whom spoke in support of Paul and accused the council's actions of being politically motivated.
The complaint against Paul took the form of a resolution drafted by the City Attorney Paul Martin and included charges that he violated sunshine laws by disclosing confidential details and drank on the job.
(View the attached PDF for a complete list of the charges)
The council also used the special meeting to set a hearing date for March 20 in which two attorneys selected by the city will present the allegations contained in the complaint. The council will then make a decision on whether or not they merit Paul’s removal from office and that decision will be forwarded to the St. Louis Circuit Court for review.
Council Member Linda Reel was absent from the meeting. Reel had previously been the sole dissenting vote when the council moved to draft the resolution approved Wednesday.
Paul vowed to fight the allegations and strenuously denied the accusation that he had drank vodka on several occasions while at City Hall. Elected as an opponent to public financing for a Walmart project, Paul said he had been targeting "from day one."
"Ultimately, I will have my fair shot in the circuit courts, but not with the kangaroo court that the council got me," he said.
During the meeting, Paul contented that the accusations contained in the resolution were vague and that the council was being asked to vote on something without him having a chance to refute the charges or understand where they were coming from.
“You better have some damn evidence if you are going to call me a belligerent alcoholic,” he said. “You make me look like a monster, sir.”
Interviewed by media after the meeting, Martin said the evidence supporting the allegations contained in the resolution will come out at the March 20 hearing and Paul will have a chance to refute them. He also addressed concerns raised by citizens that action taken against the mayor was personal and political.
“I have nothing against the mayor,” he said. “The question is whether or not the charges are true.”
A Flurry of Legal Manuvers
On Wednesday, Paul’s lawyer filed a motion in St. Louis County Circuit Court that would have prevented the council from removing him from office. According to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Paul’s lawyer, Chet Pleban, said the effort is politically driven and based on Paul’s opposition to public financing for the construction of a Walmart.
Reached Wednesday afternoon, Martin did not comment on any of the specific allegations from the filing, but said a judge refused to grant the order at a 3 p.m. hearing held that day. The ruling cleared the way for the vote to suspend Paul.
Council member Michelle Murray initiated the process to have the city council review whether Paul should be removed from office in the wake of unrelated complaints that he overstepped his authority and violated the city charter.
The complaint against Paul was filed two weeks ago, claiming that the mayor violated the city charter by ordering police to remove a member of the public from meeting premises on two separate occasions, most recently at a Feb. 6 council meeting.
The charter enforcement commission, consisting of Murray and council members Dawn Anglin and Linda Reel, unanimously voted to recommend to the council to dismiss the claim on Monday night.
However, at a council meeting the following Wednesday, Murray then requested Martin draft a resolution based on a provision of the city charter that allows the council to review the qualifications of any of its members, including the mayor.