Embattled alderman says no legal grounds for suspension

Suspended Ashland alderman Jeff Anderson will go to court Monday to determine whether the city had the authority to suspend him. Anderson faces a Nov. 11 impeachment hearing.

Embattled Ashland alderman Jeff Anderson told KRCG 13 Sunday the city should not have suspended him ahead of an impeachment hearing.

On Monday, Anderson will take the city to court to determine whether the Ashland Board of Aldermen violated state law when it voted to suspend him on September 16. State law dictates how officials in towns like Ashland should go about removing elective officers. The law reads, "The mayor may, with the consent of a majority of all the members elected to the board of aldermen, remove from office, for cause shown, any elective officer of the city, such officer being first given opportunity, together with his witnesses, to be heard before the board of aldermen sitting as a board of impeachment." This passage is incorporated into Ashland's city code.

John Hills, who voted to suspend Anderson at the meeting, said this week that meeting was the first indication he had the city was pursuing any action against Anderson or any other official. He said Mayor Gene Rhorer asked the board to suspend Anderson and everyone who was present determined the case was strong enough to suspend him.

"The mayor brought it to our attention, and based on his assessment, we decided to go ahead and follow through with the impeachment process," he said.

Hills said he could not comment on exactly why Anderson was suspended because the vote happened during a closed meeting. He said none of the aldermen have seen the articles being drawn up against Anderson.

Anderson said a previous engagement prevented him from attending the meeting during which the Board of Aldermen voted to suspend him and the meeting was called on such short notice he was unable to change his plans. He said he had no indication any action was being sought against him and has had virtually no communication with city officials about impeachment proceedings against him since.

"The board will not tell me under what authority they suspended me and for what cause they have done so," Anderson said.

Rhorer had called a special meeting for Friday afternoon to vote to reinstate Anderson until the impeachment hearing. That day, he told KRCG 13 he hoped to avoid incurring any legal fees that would have to be passed on to taxpayers. The meeting was canceled after several aldermen said they could not attend. When contacted for more specifics Friday evening, Rhorer said the city's attorney instructed him not to speak to the media further. KRCG 13 was unable to reach any aldermen for comment on the state statute.