Folly Beach City Council censures Mayor Pro Tem - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Folly Beach City Council censures Mayor Pro Tem

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Councilman Eddie Ellis after censure vote was taken. Councilman Eddie Ellis after censure vote was taken.
FOLLY BEACH, SC -

The Folly Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to censure Mayor Pro Tempore Eddie Ellis.

According to affidavits and other reports, Council members claim Ellis has threatened their families, made inappropriate gestures and harassed residents of Folly Beach. After the resolution was unanimously agreed upon, Ellis became emotional, hoping people wouldn't judge his character solely on the allegations.

"I hate to think that my life is just a testimony of a stack of a bad stories from to the other and all that I am is just a bad person," Ellis said. 

In response to the resolution, Ellis filed a lawsuit against the city on Friday. The suit names five members of the city council as defendants in that case.

The suit highlights four claims: violation of the state's Freedom of Information Act, violation of Ellis' due process, abuse of process and violation of his first amendment rights.

It stems from an allegation that the council drafted the resolution to censure Ellis without holding a public meeting. Ellis' attorney said that is against the law.

"How did five council members have a resolution without a meeting and they all agreed on the language. How did that happen? I mean is it just an accident?" Thomas Goldstein asked.

During the meeting, Goldstein spoke for ten minutes to the council about the resolution. He said that the council has "made up rules," that allow them to force Ellis out as Mayor Pro Tem, a position that lasts for two years.

Following the statements from Goldstein, an attorney representing Folly Beach spoke saying they aren't taking away Ellis' rights to be a council member. In an interview following the meeting, the city said they are ready to fight the lawsuit.

"It's been an embarrassment and heartbreak for everybody including council and including Mr. Ellis," Sandy Senn said.

Ellis and his attorney both agree that this censure isn't about Ellis' "rude actions" but about political payback after Ellis raised concern when the city administrator retired back in May.

"There are other members who wanted the City Administrator gone, so there was tension," Goldstein said. 

Goldstein is asking the court for an immediate reversal of the censure. If that censure is approved by a judge, Ellis will return to his role as Mayor Pro Tem. Goldstein said that decision is expected to be made no later than August 2.

Council is expected to vote on a new Mayor Pro Tem at their next meeting. Usually, that position goes to the member who has served the longest.

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