Leaving Removal Up to St. C Voters
Members of St. Clairsville City Council can be removed for a variety of reasons. Incurring the dislike of other council members is not on the list.
Councilman Perry Basile has been under fire for more than a month because he shared a social media post critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. He apologized, saying he had intended to share a statistical graph and was unaware that posting included the disparaging comment.
During a meeting this week, Councilwoman Linda Jordan moved to remove Basile from office. Councilman Frank Sabatino seconded the motion.
There was no vote, because city Law Director Elizabeth Glick pointed out council cannot remove one of its members because of the situation involving Basile.
She is correct. The city charter provides various grounds for removal. Included are conflicts of interest, changed residence, crimes and long-term military service. But removing a council member because someone is upset about what he or she says — in person, in print or online — can be accomplished only by a recall movement.
That would require one-fourth of the registered voters in Basile’s First Ward to sign a recall petition.
If his actions have offended a substantial number of his constituents, they indeed should consider a recall petition. But those who enacted the municipal charter were right to deny the power of removal to other members of council who disagree with a person’s opinions.