Legal wrangling may impede the process by which Fayetteville City Councilman Tyrone Williams is removed from office. Williams’ lawyer and city attorney Karen McDonald disagree on some of the steps city council is taking. As a courtesy, McDonald provided attorney Kris Poppean opportunity to offer feedback on procedures she developed to conduct what’s known as an amotion.
McDonald agreed to some of his ideas but rejected others. Poppe contends Williams should not have been denied his right to vote on issues he’s accused of being involved in. McDonald insists the excusal protects the validity of the process.City council adopted McDonald’s recommendations following an hourlong discussion at a dinner meeting. Williams did not vote.
North Carolina state law provides for the removal of public officials, but the process is general. McDonald stressed her rules and procedures are intended to make certain the District 2 councilman receives a fair and impartial hearing. Until now, the city had no written policy on amotion. It’s the only time official efforts have been made to remove a member from office. McDonald told council she followed her interpretation of state law because “we don’t know where the process will take us.”
The first significant step is Williams being served with a petition for removal. It will culminate in a quasi judicial public hearing. By law, council’s amotion decision must be based only on evidence received during the hearing.
Williams is a first-term council member elected this past November. He took office the following month and is alleged soon thereafter to have asked Jordan Jones, the project manager of Hay Street development projects, for $15,000 to remedy an issue with the deed to the former Prince Charles Hotel building. Jones’ company is renovating the eight-story building. Jones recorded the meeting with Williams and turned the recording over to the FBI.
In March, Williams told council he had a financial interest in Prince Charles Holdings, which Jones denied, and asked to be recused from voting on all downtown development projects because of a possible conflict of interest. Later, Williams reversed himself, saying that he had been improperly advised by McDonald to recuse himself from voting. McDonald vehemently denied that, and council voted unanimously to excuse him from voting on anything related to downtown economic developments, including the minor league baseball stadium now under construction.
The FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including public corruption at all levels of government. Corruption includes bribery, which is offering to do something for someone for the expressed purpose of receiving something in exchange. It also includes extortion by a public official, defined as the oppressive use of his or her position to obtain a fee. This is known as acting under the color of office.
PHOTO: Tyrone Williams