LANCASTER — An ousted central Kentucky mayor has filed an appeal asking a circuit judge to declare the City Council's decision to remove her null and void.
Brenda Powers was removed as the mayor of Lancaster last month by a unanimous vote of the City Council.
The move came after a public hearing during which city workers testified about a heated argument between Powers and City Clerk Shari Lane that had to be broken up by police. Two utility clerks testified that Powers created a hostile work environment.
Media reports the appeal says the council's action was arbitrary and capricious and that there was no evidence of misconduct.
The appeal, filed Monday, says there must be "written findings and the reasons" for removing the mayor. In addition, Powers said she received notice of the allegations "just 24 hours prior to the hearing," which did not give her and her attorney time to prepare a defense. She also said the action infringes on her right to free speech.
"Mayor Powers has a constitutionally protected right to free speech which may not be suppressed because of the manner in which she exercises that right," the appeal states. "Shouting at an insubordinate employee, while perhaps rude or in bad taste, is not an unlawful act sufficient to support a finding of 'misconduct.'"
Kentucky statutes cited in the appeal state that ". any elected officer, in case of misconduct, incapacity or wilful neglect in the performance of duties" may be removed from office. Although misconduct is not described in the statute, case law has defined it as "unlawful behavior," or "acts which the office holder had no right to perform, acts performed improperly, and failure to act in the face of an affirmative duty to act."
Powers attorney, Brad Guthrie, says "the only evidence presented established heated disagreements between the Mayor and the City Clerk, an admittedly insubordinate employee," which "does not rise to the level of unlawful conduct . "
The Lancaster City Council appointed member Chris Davis to fill the role of mayor after removing Powers.