The fate of Ellisville's embattled mayor won't be known until next week. The City Council was supposed to vote on Mayor Adam Paul's impeachment Wednesday, but postponed deliberations until Monday.
Paul and his attorney Chet Pleban spoke with KTRS's McGraw Millhaven Thursday morning about the proceedings.
Some of the charges against Mayor Paul were dropped last night - due to a lack of evidence. Those include allegations Paul leaked confidential information. Paul says those charges should never have been brought against him.
"Releasing confidential information is pretty, pretty significant, and they're pretty serious allegations," Paul told McGraw. "And if you're going to put allegations like that out there, you better have some evidence."
Paul's attorney Chet Pleban told KTRS's McGraw Millhaven this morning that the charges against his client keep shifting. Pleban says although some charges against his client have been dropped, another charge - that Paul improperly questioned a city official - took center stage at last night's council meeting.
Pleban says the charge stems from an inquiry the mayor made on behalf of a constituent. Pleban told McGraw that the resident wanted to know how he would be compensated for being displaced from low-income housing by the new Walmart development.
"He went to the person who was the relocation expert and asked that question of what does this person get," Pleban said. "He got the answer to that question. He was satisfied with the answer, took it back to his constituent. And now they want to impeach him for asking the relocation person that particular question."
Paul says that when the council finally votes on it, he expects to be ousted, and if that happens, he says he will sue.
Pleban says the city council is already hiring legal representation in anticipation of that lawsuit.
The suspended mayor of Ellisville will be the subject of a hearing in St. Louis County Court this afternoon (Thursday). Wednesday Mayor Adam Paul's attorney, Chet Pleban, spoke with KTRS's McGraw Millhaven.
Pleban said his client is suing to stop the impeachment, which he called collusion between city councilman, Matt Parillo and Ellisville city attorney, Paul Martin. Pleban read emails on the air between the two that listed possible charges and laid out a plan to remove Mayor Paul from office. Pleban says Martin and Parillo took their plan to former city council woman Katie James three days before she formally presented the charges against the mayor as her own.
James tells McGraw Thursday morning she acted alone and only sought the advice of the city attorney and councilman Parillo. Katie James says, "I don't know why the city went farther with my charges, I'm not privy to that. Why they feel the relationship with the mayor has devolved that they feel they cannot work with him. I want the city just to work." "Did his actions rise to a level to overthrow a duly elected mayor of a town?" Katie James: And I don't have all the facts in that. Do I think he is a capable a mayor..no I do not." McGraw: "Again..should the vote of the people of Ellisville be overturned by the council?" James:"If he broke the law? Yes."
For months, James had claimed that Paul mistreated her when he tried to have police officers remove her from a meeting in May. When she learned of another incident where Paul had tried to remove a resident from a meeting in February. She tells McGraw that's when she decided to take action.
Mayor Pro Tem Matt Pirrello told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Paul's attorney had asked for the extra five days in order to prepare his defense.
The council had suspended Paul February 27 on charges that he violated the city's charter. Paul has maintained that the action stemmed from his vigorous opposition to a controversial tax increment financing for a Walmart development.
Three city council seats will be decided in the April 2nd election.
Also last night, the City Council rejected tax incentives for a second proposed development from Sansone Group. The developer had already won a TIF for a Walmart project.
They also asked for more tax-payer financing, but the Economic Development Commission rejected the plan.
Commission chairman Tom Weis says they were hoping for something more than another shopping center. Weis said they want something "tying in with the great streets concept; trying to build these little pods people can live in, work in, they can shop in."
Tax Increment Financing has been a hot-button issue in the West County suburb, even contributing to the suspension of Mayor Adam Paul, who opposed the Walmart TIF.
Paul says he believes his election was a referendum by Ellisville residents against using tax dollars for such projects. "I believe we started TIF reform in the region," Paul said. "For the developer to come back asking for more tax increment financing and more incentives is preposterous."
Paul won a legal victory at a hearing Monday, forcing the city council to turn over documents detailing communications regarding his impeachment. Paul's attorney says he still expects the council to remove the mayor from office on March 27, saying the votes are already lined up.
Last week, the city council had adopted an 11 page impeachment document that charged Paul with violating the city's charter.
The charges also included swearing and drinking on the job. The council voted Wednesday night to drop those two charges from the impeachment proceedings.
City Attorney Paul Martin says he has evidence that both are true, but has learned that neither is an impeachable offense.
Mayor Paul refutes all of the charges, claiming they all stem from his disagreements with the council over a controversial Walmart TIF.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to move forward with a litany of charges against the mayor that include disclosing confidential information and drinking on the job.
Dozens of residents had attended the special council meeting to show support for the Mayor, but it didn't sway the council.
A hearing was scheduled for March 20 to decide whether Paul should be permanently removed from office.
Mayor Paul has been at odds with most of the council over a controversial Walmart TIF since he was elected last April.
The 11 page resolution calling for Paul’s removal was drawn up by City Attorney Paul Martin after the council voted 5-2 for impeachment proceedings. Martin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the mayor's improprieties began right after he took office last April.
That's also when Paul began officially fighting with most council members over a controversial Walmart TIF. The TIF passed, but is now tied up in court.
The impeachment drive follows an effort by some residents to get council members who'd supported the TIF recalled from office. That effort fell flat when a St. Louis County judge ruled that the city's recall provisions were unconstitutional.
If the council votes to adopt the impeachment resolution at Wednesday night's meeting, Paul would be suspended for 45 days, pending the outcome of an investigation.
The move comes just two days after the Ellisville Charter Enforcement Commission unanimously recommended that the impeachment complaint be thrown out.
Ironically, it's Martin who will present the resolution at the March 6th council meeting.
The specifics of the complaint against the mayor haven't been released, but Martin has clashed frequently with other council members over a controversial Walmart TIF that was passed last year. Martin had been elected last spring after campaigning against the TIF.
The mayor's attorney, Chet Pleban, says the impeachment effort will be met with litigation.
Mayor Paul has been at odds with several City Council members over a Walmart TIF project that he had opposed. Discussion over the TIF has led to several contentious council meetings, including the meeting in which Paul had tried to have a disruptive resident removed.
Last night's commission meeting wasn't without it's own drama. At one point, Mayor Paul's attorney, Lynette Petruska was removed from the meeting for allegedly disruptive behavior.
Still, the three-member commission sided with Paul. But it might not end there. The City Council could still vote to pursue the matter at Wednesday's meeting.