Willoughby Hills mayor removes six members of city council

WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio -- Willoughby Hills Mayor Robert Weger removed six of the seven city council members for offenses like gross misconduct.

The removed members are president Nancy Fellows, vice president John Plecnik, David Fiebig, Laura Lenz, Janet Majka and Laura Pizmoht.

"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 businesses in Willoughby Hills," Weger said in a news release on Wednesday.

"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."

Mayor Weger said council did not hire a new law director for more than year and that led to the closure of the mayor's court, resulting in a 90 percent loss of administrative staff for day-to-day operations.

"They did things that were illegal and they continued to do those illegal acts, so we had no choice but to release them," said Mayor Weger.

Weger shut down their email accounts, changed the locks and removed their photos from city hall.  He cited the city's charter in firing the council..."The mayor shall remove promptly any such officer or employee for violation of any of the requirements stated in Section 9.2, for gross misconduct, malfeasance of nonfeasance in office…”

"There's no legal power to that document whatsoever…there's no evidence to suggest we've broken any laws," said councilmember Laura Pizmoht

The president and vice-president of the Willoughby Hills city council say as far as they're concerned, they are still on the job.  Wednesday, Mayor Robert Weger sent six of the seven city councilmembers letters, stating that he had removed them from office, effective immediately.

"It's illegal, a mayor cannot get rid of city council members, they are elected officials," said Nancy Fellows, president of the Willoughby Hills city council.

"The president can't fire congress, the governor can't fire the state legislature, the mayor of Cleveland, the mayor of Willoughby Hills can't fire the council, it's un-American, it's illegal and he should be in jail," said council vice president John Plecnik.

The only council member who remains is District 3 Councilman Christopher Hallum, who Weger said voted no to the illegal ordinances.

"These council members really brought this upon themselves, this is a direct result of their failure to uphold their oath of office and represent the citizens of Willoughby Hills," Hallum said.

According to the mayor, it is now up to Hallum to hire an entirely new city council.  The next city council meeting is scheduled for next Thursday.  Council members say they plan to be at city hall, ready to take their places.