Ashley City Council tables issue regarding councilman expulsion

The vote deciding what to do with an Ashley city councilman accused of misconduct during the previous meeting was tabled.

City attorney Aaron Atkins said during the Ashley board meeting Monday night that in having discussions with the lawyer obtained by Councilman Len Piasecki, the city council agreed to push back any decision to the February meeting.

Atkins said it was discovered that the city of Ashley would need to update its ordinance to reflect state statutes and the current makeup of the council.

Atkins said the current city ordinance states that any councilman or alderman “acting or appearing in a lewd or disgraceful manner or uses opprobrious, obscene or insulting language to or about a member of the council” may be censured or subjected to expulsion by a two-thirds vote of all elected aldermen.

“The problem is coming from the fact that first one, the new state statute, says all alder persons now holding office,” Atkins said. “Our ordinance says elected.”

Since members of the Ashley City Council are not all elected, some had been appointed, Atkins said Piasecki’s lawyer indicated that if the council proceeded with the expulsion as it presently exists, the city would be sued.

According to the Ashley City Council December meeting minutes, Mayor Linda Gammon brought up the issue of harassment, indicating the “continued harassment of city workers by Councilman Len Piasecki,” and how his conduct could expose the city to a potential liability claim.

Gammon said Piasecki was accused of videotaping a city worker while she was in the Ashley park.

Piasecki denied all accusations and reportedly called Gammon a liar. Counclman Ryan Davis requested that the council discuss the potential expulsion of Piasecki during the January meeting.

Atkins said it is his recommendation to amend the city ordinance and then present the case for possible expulsion next month.

“I know it is a very semantical point, but I would really rather not lose it in court,” he said. “I would really rather we would be on firm ground.”

Davis said he is willing to wait to get the language in the statute in order for the main issue to be addressed.

“The intention is not to remove the councilman permanently or at all,” Davis said. “We already censured as a council for misconduct. There has to be a state of discipline here. It says in the state statute for a leave, not permanently. Really all.I would like while we were in session, no matter how you feel about somebody, whether it be true or false, you can’t say stuff that is derogatory or offensive or opprobrious. All that stuff can’t happen when we are in session.”

The vote to table passed, 3-1, with Piasecki casting the lone “no” vote.

While the resolution would have to wait, there were several moments of contention throughout the meeting. Piasecki questioned a couple of closing items that were purchased and awaiting approval in city warrants. He said he believes the items purchased by the city should only be used while conducting city business.

“I guess it is pretty easy to spend somebody else’s money but it’s not right,” he said.

Piasecki also took issue with a raise for city employee Kelly Fulton. The lengthy discussion about duties, responsibilities and what would be fair compensation in the current job market.

Piasecki disagreed with the raise, saying there should be “minimum pay for minimum effort” and called for pay stubs and work sheets from the past. few months before the vote.

“They said one time when I called up here wanting to know where they were, they were at the city park,” Piasecki said. “And I got accused of taking pictures.”

Although the original motion called for a $1 an hour raise, Councilman Fred Johnson amended his motion to include a $2 per hour increase and a $200 clothing allowance.

The vote was approved, 3-1.

Also at the meeting, the council approved the 2021 audit from Krehbiel & Associates, after a presentation from Gary Malawy. The council also approved to revise the contract that includes an increase in fees for the firm for next year, raising it to $8,900.

The next city council meeting will be held on Feb. 21.

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