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Judge reinstates 6 Willoughby Hills council members removed by mayor

Posted at 1:14 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 18:06:21-04

A judge granted the city of Willoughby Hills a temporary restraining order against Mayor Robert Weger, effectively giving six council members their jobs back after Weger removed every council member but one from the city's council last week.

RELATEDWilloughby Hills files temporary restraining order against mayor for removing council members

Retired Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge David L. Fuhry, acting as visiting judge, granted the restraining order on Tuesday, saying:

"The Court finds the temporary restraining order should be is hereby granted. Removing the duly elected named council members appears to rely upon a questionable interpretation of the city charter provisions relating to removal of officers, employees and other city personnel. The public is entitled to their elected council membership acting as decision makers absent a clear showing that removal is both justified and within the powers granted to the mayor by law. Improper removal irreparably harms the legislative process and thus is detrimental to the public interest.”

The six ousted council members will get their positions back contingent on the payment of a $250 security bond, according to a press release from the city.

The matter involving the mayor and the council members will be heard no later than 14 days from Tuesday.

According to a news release, the City of Willoughby Hills' official position is that Weger's attempted removal and replacement of the council is illegal, unlawful, null and void.

"Allowing Weger to oust elected officials contrary to law and without due process is fundamentally inconsistent with the democratic process, and designed to create a government run through a dictatorship rather than through the proper legislative, executive and judicial process," the news release states.

Last week, Weger removed six council members from their positions, citing “gross misconduct, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office.”

Weger also had the locks changed on City Hall and locked the clerk out of her office.

On Oct. 3, Weger sent an unauthorized letter on City letterhead saying he removed six of the seven members. He then proceeded to issue press releases and statements to the media, announcing his intent to appoint an unelected council by himself or in cooperation with the one council member left.