Three City Council members in Sebastian are facing Sunshine Law violations after holding an illegal meeting inside the chambers at City Hall.
“It was clear that the three council members were having a meeting without any other city official or the Mayor present,” Sebastian Police Lt. Timothy Wood told Sebastian Daily.
Wood said there were three civilians in the chambers as well.
Council Members Charles Mauti, Damien Gilliams, and Pamela Parris called their meeting to order.
First, the three of them voted to fire City Manager Paul Carlisle, City Attorney Manny Anon and City Clerk Jeanette Williams.
Then they appointed Gilliams mayor, replacing Ed Dodd, in a move some residents say was an attempt to take over the city.
Also in the chambers were two directors from the Sebastian Property Owners Association (SPOA), who were trying to make the meeting legitimate by recording it. Gilliams is president of the SPOA.
“There was an attempt to have an illegal council meeting and I stumbled onto it,” Dodd told Sebastian Daily.
Dodd said he notified the Sebastian Police Department and they escorted everyone out of the chambers.
Earlier in the day, at approximately 2:30 p.m., City Manager Paul Carlisle canceled the City Council meeting for Wednesday, April 22nd.
“Based on the consensus of the City Council and the authority granted by the Declaration of Local State of Emergency, I am directing that the meeting of April 22, 2020 be postponed and all items carried forward to the next regularly scheduled meeting,” Paul Carlisle said.
The notice was posted everywhere, including the City of Sebastian website, City of Sebastian Facebook, Sebastian Police Facebook page, and an email to all council members.
However, the three council members still had a meeting without any other city official. Mauti unlocked the chamber doors just before 6:00 p.m. and invited visitors to enter, according to witnesses.
Mayor Ed Dodd showed up after someone informed him that a meeting was going on inside the chambers at City Hall. When he reached for the door, it was locked. Dodd banged on the doors to the chambers until someone unlocked it.
Finally, when entering, Dodd was told by Gilliams that they were already having the meeting and making decisions without him.
Mauti stood up and charged towards Dodd, yelling, and asked him who canceled the meeting, according to sources.
According to emails obtained by Sebastian Daily, all three council members wrote to Carlisle and said their constituents asked for the meeting to be canceled.
In addition, because it is a State of Emergency, Carlisle had the authority to cancel the meeting.
A witness said that while Gilliams was escorted out, he looked at Dodd and said: “You’re no longer the Mayor.”
Mauti, Gilliams, and Parris now face potential Sunshine Law violations and an ethics violation for having the meeting.
Sebastian Daily will have more information tomorrow.
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