Impeachment Proceedings Against Ashland Alderman Dropped

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ASHLAND - Ashland Mayor Gene Rhorer held a news conference Tuesday after the Board of Aldermen voted to drop the impeachment proceedings against Ward 2 alderman Jeff Anderson Monday.

The impeachment discussion was not on the board's agenda. Mayor Gene Rhorer said alderwoman Louise Martin made a motion to cancel the articles of impeachment which was seconded by alderman Tony Taggart. The board also voted to end its contract with impeachment attorney David Bandre.

"We have tried to work, to settle, to negotiate, to discuss and to deliberate. And for her (Louise Martin) just to stand out and say and do that is remarkable," Anderson said.

The aldermen then took at vote, the vote was a 3-3 tie and Rhorer broke the tie in favor of cancelling the articles of impeachment.

Rhorer said there are several reasons for him to do that.

"Number one is that it's [legal fees] been a burden to the community, it's been a burden on the taxpayers. It's always better if the board agrees to work together and do city's business," Rhorer said.

Rhorer said he will have to look into the financial burden of legal fees and find out what the city is liable for. He said one or several of the city's insurance companies may pay part of that cost. Because the special legal counsel was voted to discontinue Monday night, those final bills have not been assessed yet.

The board approved seven articles of impeachment against Anderson in October, 2013, including claims that Anderson exposed the city to possible litigation by interfering in a bid process and overstepped his authority by intervening in an unauthorized investigation of the now-former Ashland police chief. An impeachment hearing had been set for Jan. 31. A motions hearing was set for Jan. 14.

Anderson said he is glad that the articles of impeachment against him have been dropped.

"I haven't been any of those things I was long accused of," he said. "I have always been committed to be open, transparent and truthful with each other and with our community. I will continue to do so. The whole issue has taken a toll on me emotionally, financially and socially. Relationally, it's been a very difficulty experience for me to be wrongly accused, lied about in public. I'm not used to that. It's been quite an experience."

Anderson said it's not over.

"I would like to have my name cleared, perhaps an apology from the city," Anderson said. 

Besides an apology from the city, Anderson said he will charge the city for his legal fees that have occurred due to the impeachment. He said his attorney is working on the invoice, totalling the cost and making a proposal to the city for reimbursement of that cost. That number is estimated around $20,000.

Rhorer said he has read in the newspaper that Anderson plans to charge the city for his legal fees. He said he has received some feedback from the community.

"The community is happy to have the impeachment proceedings behind us, so we can move on as a community," Rhorer said. "I'm glad it's over."

Anderson said he is grateful for what he has been able to get from it. 

"I've learned to be more careful with public trust, how important it is we value each other with dignity and respect, and the importance of truth in public square," He said. "It's a good lesson."

"I have spoke with each board member and all board members are willing to move forward and do the city's business as we should be doing," Rhorer said. "Now we can get done to work and do some of that important businesses that we haven't been able to get to."

Ward 2 alderman John Hills said "that is absolutely inaccurate" that Rhorer has discussed with each alderman.

"He never spoke to any of the alderman about his plan," Hills said. "There is no agreement on how we we're moving forward."

(Editor's note: This article has been changed to include the comments from Hills).