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Port Richey council ousts one of its own

The City Council voted Tuesday night to oust one of its members, William Wilson, because of misconduct allegations.

Council member Madolyn Salzillo made the motion, saying Wilson had interfered in the day-to-day operation of city departments by giving employees direct orders. Salzillo also accused Wilson of appearing at unemployment hearings for former fire Chief Dennis Smith without council approval.

Wilson offered no defense and even cast a vote to force himself from office. In an interview a few minutes after the vote, Wilson said he did not think the charter gave the council the power to oust him.

"They're not going to be able to do it," he said. "I categorically deny everything she's said."

Wilson said he plans to keep his seat and said he voted to oust himself because "I don't think I should deny a fellow council person a motion to investigate me. I welcome an investigation."

At the next council meeting, he said, "I'll be in this chair."

City Attorney Eloise Taylor told the council the charter language dealing with the ouster of council members was "vague at best," and that expulsion was an "extraordinary penalty."

Expelling any member whom the rest of the council disliked, Taylor said, would be setting "in my opinion, a very dangerous precedent." Taylor asked for the council to wait while she researched the issue and sought an opinion from Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

But the council proceeded to vote 4-1 to oust Wilson, with Mayor Roger Naused casting the only vote to keep him.

The council's vote means it will notify Wilson in writing of its intent to force him to forfeit his seat. Wilson has seven days in which to request a hearing at which he can present rebutting evidence. The council then will vote on the issue again.

_ Editor Bill Stevens contributed to this report.