Willoughby Hills Mayor Robert Weger removed six council members from their positions on Wednesday, citing “gross misconduct, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office.”
According to a news release, the mayor removed Council President Nancy Fellows, David Fiebig, Laura Lenz, Janet Majka, Laura Pizmoht and John Plecnik. The release said twelve specific acts, justifying immediate removal, were documented by the mayor.
The only council member who was not removed was Christopher Hallum.
Removed Councilman John Plecnik told News 5 he believes that the Mayor can't legally remove council members, and may even be breaking the law.
"This is completely unfair for all the residents who voted us into office," said Plecnik.
"The Mayor says he and his one friend on council will choose their own council people, so instead of the voters having a say, the Mayor and his buddy will personally chose everyone," he said.
Councilwoman Laura Pizmoht told News 5 the ousted council members plan to fight for their jobs, and will likely take legal action.
"When he impedes the business of the city, that is a crime, this is a felony under our city law, and yes I do think he should be prosecuted for that," Pizmoht said.
Meanwhile Mayor Weger released the following statement regarding the removal:
“This may be a drastic action, but the behavior of these six council members requires I take action in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens and business in Willoughby Hills. In the past year, these council members have adopted at least 11 ordinances which are contrary to law, five of which have been declared void and illegal by a common pleas judge. Two others have been found to be probable violations of the collective bargaining law by the State Employment Relations Board and unfair labor practices against city employees which will cost our taxpayers dearly.”
According to Weger, this past year the council also failed to appoint a new law director and by doing so caused the closure of the mayor’s court and reduced the administrative budget. The budget loss, in turn, resulted in the reduction of nearly 90 percent of the administrative staff, the mayor said.
“It is my duty as mayor to take whatever action necessary to put this city back on track,” Weger said.
The Mayor said he plans to work with the remaining council member to appoint new members to the council.
The removed and locked-out council members said they will show up for the up-coming council meeting on Oct. 11, even if they have to host the meeting in the city hall parking lot.