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Judge reverses Willoughby Hills City Council again

September 20, 2018

Judge reverses Willoughby Hills City Council again

WILLOUGBY HILLS, Ohio – The endless war in Willoughby Hills continued this week with a visiting judge ruling in favor of the city’s mayor and against city council members.

Mayor Robert Weger sued council in a dispute about who should represent the city in collective-bargaining negotiations. Earlier this year, a judge ruled in his favor in a suit covering that and more broadly, about when and why council can remove the mayor.

Both cases are before Judge David Fuhry, retired from Geauga County Common Pleas Court.

Randy Klammer, the mayor’s lawyer, called council’s actions a power grab.

In the first case, Fuhry voided four ordinances created by council, calling them “illegal, unenforceable and null and void.”

But the judge’s May decision affirmed council’s right to reject the mayor’s appointments.

Klammer said in an email Tuesday night that “Mayor Weger is so very patient and mindful of everyone’s opinions, the residents deserve a council that behaves the same.

“This is the second time that two lawyers on council have approved of these absurd legal tactics,” he said.

The results of the first suit are awaiting review by the 11th District Ohio Court of Appeals.

John Plecnik, one of the council members with a law degree, said that the latest decision has resulted only in an injunction.

Laura Pizmoht, the other lawyer on council, said by phone Wednesday said the injunction can be challenged in a state trial court, but she said she did not know whether the mayor’s opponents would take that action.

Klammer said an injunction is granted on the merits of the case, meaning the likelihood that the party seeking the injunction would prevail in trial. Without a verdict, though, the injunction by itself cannot be appealed.

The legislation in controversy at this time would give council the right to make its president the acting mayor to negotiate union contracts.

Fuhry wrote in his Sept. 17 decision that this case and the previous one “are almost identical.” He called the latest legislation “the usurpation of executive authority by the council majority without good cause.”

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