Roswellâ€™s mayor is asking a district court judge to remove a city councilor from office for malfeasance after officials discovered the councilor secretly recorded closeddoor meetings.
Mayor Del Jurney and city attorneys filed a petition to remove Councilor Rob McWilliams from his position less than one week after the mayor discovered the recordings existed. McWilliams is less than one year into his first term on the City Council.
The petition alleges that McWilliams recorded closed sessions on four separate occasions in a three- month time span and later released the tapes to news reporters. Jurney called the councilorâ€™s [auth] decision to secretly record closed meetings and private conversations with city officials a â€œterrible breach of confidentiality.â€
â€œThis is a serious situation and we donâ€™t enter into this lightly,â€ he said, referring to the court petition. Jurney declined to say how city staff came into possession of the recordings.
The petition also seeks to bar McWilliams from disclosing any additional confidential information and requests the city be paid reasonable attorney fees. The paperwork was filed late Tuesday afternoon, four days after Jurney approached McWilliams about the recordings and indicated what actions might be taken.
â€œI had a conversation with Councilor McWilliams last Friday morning and talked about the (process) for a councilorâ€™s removal based on malfeasance,â€ said Jurney, adding that he had not heard back from McWilliams about whether he would resign from his position. Jurney said level of confidentiality is needed among city officials when discussing, for example, collective bargaining and pending litigation.
â€œCouncilor McWilliamsâ€™ release of the audio recordings of the closed meeting(s) … is wrongful conduct which affects or interferes with the performance of the official duties of the Roswell City Council,â€ reads the petition. â€œ… Its members can no longer have confidential discussions or receive … confidential information and communications in closed meeting(s).â€
State statute allows a city council or a mayor to request that a district court judge remove an elected official from office. City Manager Larry Fry said he couldnâ€™t recall any time during his tenure with the city, or in recent memory, when officials sought court action to remove an elected official from office. Multiple messages left for McWilliams seeking comment were not returned. He was elected to the two-year term position following the cityâ€™s March municipal election.