Port Richey, a city not known for its political self-restraint, surpassed even its own outrageousness late Tuesday night.
In a display of Draconian overkill, the City Council voted to begin proceedings to oust member William Wilson because he stood accused of interfering with the day-to-day operation of city departments and also had been present at unemployment compensation hearings for the fired city fire chief.
Both charges are ludicrously hypocritical.
In the first place, Port Richey council members make careers out of poking their noses into city departmental business. The chance to snoop around and give orders to hapless city employees is why many of them ran for office. How they can keep straight faces while chastising their fellow council member for the very actions they themselves commit is astounding.
As for Wilson's attendance at the fire chief's unemployment hearings, Wilson says the person who made the accusations, council member Madolyn Salzillo, not only went to the hearings herself, she got up and made statements while there. At least Wilson had the sense to keep his seat.
Port Richey's council would be wise to follow the advice of City Attorney Eloise Taylor and drop these proceedings. The charter may give the members the right to oust a fellow member, but that doesn't make actually doing it right.
Wilson was elected by a majority of voters, not once, but twice. Three council members have no business disenfranchising those voters by their precipitous act. A roomful of boisterous kibitzers does not offset the power of that ballot box. If voters don't want Wilson to complete his term, they can go through the arduous process of recalling him. A hasty council vote should not be all it takes to overturn a duly held election.
Interestingly, Wilson went along with the joke. When the time came, he voted against himself and for his own demise. He later said it was so he could have his day in court.
Thanks a lot. Instead of using precious resources on numerous city needs, Wilson, et al., are forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a dog-and-cat fight in court.
Wilson could have simply challenged his accusers to come up with proof and set a special workshop to present it. Even more sensible would be for the council members to behave like adults and stop the fussing.
Their childish behavior comes at a particularly critical time, when Port Richey soon will be out to recruit a new and potentially influential city manager. What rising young professional, mid-career specialist or seasoned administrator would want to jump into this hornet's nest?
The best course for Port Richey's City Council at this moment is to drop the campaign against Wilson. That done, they should take a good look at the city charter and change it so that similar travesties against the voters cannot take place in the future.