Ellisville City Council suspends mayor while charges of misconduct are investigated
By: Diane E. Samson
The Ellisville City Council on Feb. 27 unanimously voted to approve the preliminary resolution concerning the removal of Mayor Adam Paul for up to 45 days while charges against Paul are being investigated.
Councilmember Linda Reel (District 2) was absent and City Manager Kevin Bookout watched the proceedings from the hallway.
During the meeting, Paul expressed the desire to discuss the 10 pages of charges against him, but City Attorney Paul Martin said there would be time for that at the hearing if the resolution passes, which it did.
Prior to the resolution passing, Paul was allowed to speak to the charges that he was drinking alcohol during Council functions and that he suggested Bookout use the city’s message boards to advertise certain private events, one of which was being held at a private business owned by a political supporter.
The resolution, which was made available to the public prior to the Feb. 27 meeting, references three occasions on which Paul is accused of drinking. The first alleges that “on a date unknown, but at a closed meeting in the city hall conference room during the summer of 2012 … the (city) manager smelled alcohol on the mayor’s breath and asked the mayor what he was drinking.” According to the resolution, “the mayor admitted to the city manager that he was drinking vodka.”
The other two occasions included one “on July 18, 2012, during an open meeting in the city hall conference room” where Paul is accused of mixing the contents of two containers – “a blue energy drink and a Thermos-type container with a lid.” The resolution states that Paul kept the Thermos container “on the floor between his feet” and that the mayor “used the energy drink to top off the container that was on the floor and proceeded to drink from that container.”
During the Feb. 27 meeting, Paul said he was pouring his energy drink over ice in his Thermos. He further explained that the message board issue was for the Ronald McDonald House and BackStoppers and was not an order, but a request of a resident. He added that these charges were vague and defaming to his character.
“To say something as ridiculous as I am mixing a mini bar of drinks in a closed session of 60 people that come to these meetings every single week,” said Paul. “It’s the most ridiculous thing in the world.”
The city hall was packed with Ellisville residents supporting Paul, some wearing “AP” stickers, which stood for Adam Paul.
During public comments, Ellisville resident John Ellebrecht said he was appalled at the end of the last meeting when Councilmember Michelle Murray (District 3) made the motion at the last minute for the resolution to be drafted. He said if the Council is going to remove the mayor, it should be done openly, not in backdoor meetings.
“What I saw was a political move … with the public having no clue it was coming,” Ellebrecht said. “If you have valid reasons, then bring it up in a coherent way so the people can see it and not at the last minute at a meeting.”
Ellebrecht said if people in the city really want to remove their mayor, then the Council needs to explain that there’s been this overwhelming cry that the people don’t like the mayor.
Just the opposite has happened.
“I don’t agree with everything Adam has done,” Ellebrecht said. “That’s fine. But he’s my mayor. He represents me. He’s been elected by the people to fulfill that role – and call me crazy, but I’d like him to finish out his term. If people don’t like him at the end of his term, they can vote him out.”
Many in the crowd applauded Ellebrecht’s remarks and others as well.
Paul’s attorney Lynette Petruska, pointed out that “out of 9,000 Ellisville residents, it’s amazing that not one resident came to speak out against Paul.”
Councilmember Matt Pirrello (District 1) said the Council is following the process that is very clearly spelled out in the City charter, which means they are doing the people’s business because the charter was written by and for the people of Ellisville.
“Mayor Paul will get an opportunity to be heard,” Pirrello said.
The next step is a public hearing in which Petruska said they will be able to raise issues of bias and prejudice in the process.
“This is just the beginning, not the end,” Petruska said. “A court will review these actions and the court will get to weigh in at the last moment to determine whether any of these people have behaved appropriately, and my guess is that the court will say they have not.”
Martin said, though he respects the passion of the supporters of the mayor, that evidence in support of the allegations will come out.
“The question is whether the charges are true,” Martin said.
A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m on March 20 at city hall.