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Government, Politics & Issues

Adam Paul reinstated as Ellisville mayor while he continues his court fight

Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 10, 2013: A St. Louis County circuit judge has temporarily reinstated Adam Paul as mayor of Ellisville, ruling Monday that the City Council followed incorrect procedures in removing Paul from office in April.

“He’s back in the saddle,’’ said Paul’s jubilant lawyer, Chet Pleban. Paul will preside at the next council meeting, Pleban added.

A special council meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday night for business unrelated to the fight over Paul, who now is expected to be in charge.

The judge's order also means Ellisville's plans to hold a special election this November to elect a new mayor are now on hold, said Councilman Matt Pirrello, the city's mayor pro tem.

Judge David Lee Vincent III stated in his order that Paul was removed from office too soon after a council resolution had been amended to change some of the allegations against him.

The result, the judge said, was that the council failed to give Paul the 15-day minimum required under the city charter to prepare his defense. The council had rejected the request of Paul’s lawyer, Chet Pleban, for a delay in its hearing schedule after the resolution had been changed.

Vincent ruled that Paul was to be reinstated as mayor “pending the final disposition’’ of his court fight. Pleban said the court proceedings will take months.

Paul, council divided over reasons for ouster

The Ellisville City Council had voted 5-1 to oust Paul on April 8 -- roughly a year after he took office -- amid allegations of his misuse of power in dealing with city employees, such as asking the police chief if the mayor gets a badge and a gun.

Opponents also objected to Paul's actions to order police to remove two residents from a council meeting. One of them, Katie James, then filed a complaint that set the impeachment in motion.

Paul has denied any wrongdoing. He and his allies have maintained that the impeachment was prompted by his opposition to tax breaks for a new Wal-Mart, which some council members – including Pirrello, a former mayor – support.

Paul had won election in April 2012, in part, by touting his opposition to the use of tax incentives to entice development.

Pleban said it was "a no-brainer'' that Paul had been improperly removed and that the allegations against him had been trumped up.

The April municipal election had seen a switch in some of the council members, making the board more evenly split. However, the new council members -- who took office after Paul's removal --  were blocked in an attempt in May to reinstate him.

Matt Pirrello
Credit Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2013
Matt Pirrello

Pirrello has been the city's mayor pro tem since Paul’s ouster.

Pirrello said Monday that he was surprised by the judge's order but that he will abide by it. "I am not going to second-guess the court's opinion,'' Pirello said.

He emphasized, however, that the judge has simply reinstated Paul temporarily -- until the legal fight is resolved.

Meanwhile, Paul lawyer Pleban contended that the real victims in the court battle are the residents of Ellisville. "All of these people in Ellisville, what they've been subjected to, is beyond belief,'' Pleban said. Among other things, he and others have cited the legal bills that will largely be borne by the community.

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