A Circuit Court judge denied an injunction request on Friday by Folly Beach councilman Eddie Ellis, who said he wanted a “proper hearing,” before being ousted as mayor pro tem.
Folly Beach council voted Tuesday to remove Ellis from that office during an open council meeting. Ellis’s attorney, Tommy Goldstein, said that it wasn’t a proper hearing, in which Ellis could defend himself with cross examination and testimony.
He also alleges the city violated the state Freedom of Information Act in writing the resolution to remove Ellis and didn’t follow their own laws and procedures when stripping the title from Ellis.
While Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson agreed with Goldstein that Ellis is entitled to a hearing, he said he finds that Ellis got that hearing during the council meeting, in which Ellis was allowed to speak.
Sandy Senn, who is representing the city and council members, said Ellis spoke “ad nauseam” at the meeting and got a fair chance to defend himself.
Nicholson also said that council had cause to remove Ellis under their own governing rules and either way, based on his readings of affidavits from council members, the results would have been the same.
The affidavits included accusations of conversations Ellis had with fellow council members and citizens that city officials deemed inappropriate. Council members allege that Ellis insulted and threatened them and citizens.
Senn has said the outcome would have been the same no matter what procedure council followed, because Ellis’ behavior was spiraling out of control.
Goldstein said even if the results ended up being the same, it was still worth the fight.
“We go by the rule of law, not the rule of men,” Goldstein said after the hearing. “If you don’t follow the rules, then it’s anything goes.”
During Friday’s hearing Senn also said the mayor pro tem position is a ceremonial one. But, Goldstein countered that by saying that despite what it may mean to some, “It means something to Eddie Ellis.”
Ellis said after the hearing that a lot of the accusations made against him are not true and exaggerated.
He contends council is retaliating against him for criticizing them for driving off the former city administrator. Ellis has also filed a suit against the city and its council members that remains pending.
His council term expires in 2016.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.