Folly Beach council unanimously ousts mayor pro tem
By Nikki Gaskinsngaskins@abcnews4.com
FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) To say there was tension in the room at Tuesday's Folly Beach City Council meeting is an understatement. In fact, at times things got awkward. Other times, Eddie Ellis became very emotional, speaking through tears.
"I kind of feel like I'm sitting here, and I'm a sheep surrounded by four wolves, and we're getting ready to vote on what's for lunch," said Ellis.
Ellis sat beside Mayor Tim Goodwin, listening carefully as he read aloud a resolution to censure him for misconduct and strip Ellis of the title of Mayor Pro Tem. The council eventually voted unanimously to pass the resolution.
Ellis has served on Folly Beach city council for nearly a decade. On Tuesday, he acknowledged the tension in the meeting.
"I lost you as a friend," Ellis said to the mayor. "I lost Pennell. I lost Tom. Paul used to answer his phone all the time."
Recent affidavits show several council members have accused Ellis of making nasty phone calls, causing ugly confrontations, and making inappropriate comments in public.
"I want to apologize to anybody that I offended. I stick by my tone. I'm not going to apologize for the way I talk," said Ellis during the council meeting. "I would hate to think that that's a testimony of my life is a succession of nothing by bad."
The city's attorney, Sandy Senn, said council did what it felt it had to do Tuesday.
"I think council felt that it would be irresponsible because of the behavior that was exhibited in the meeting and outside of the meeting to actually allow him (Ellis) to be potentially be mayor," said Senn.
Ellis' attorney calls the move made by council "political retaliation" for his client's outspokenness especially over the recent retirement of the city administrator.
"She didn't want to retire. She didn't want to leave," stated Ellis.
Thomas Goldstein, Ellis' lawyer, says city council violated the Freedom of Information Act by drafting the resolution in what appears to be behind closed doors.
"How did fie council members have a resolution without a meeting and they all agreed on the language? How did that happen?" questioned Goldstein during the meeting.
Goldstein calls the accusations against his client absurd and say there's more behind the resolution than punishing him for reported inappropriate behavior.
"It can't be because he's a rude guy. He was reportedly a rude guy in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008," said Goldstein. "They elected him mayor pro tem in 2012."
Ellis and Goldstein hope to have the resolution overturned by next Friday.
"I'm asking the court to vacate this," said Goldstein.
The city's attorney says Folly Beach will defend itself against the lawsuit, but the city won't pick up the tab for doing so. Instead, Senn says the state will.