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Lanigan Sues Mayor, City Over Removal From Subcommittees

City Councilor Lucas Lanigan has filed suit in York County Superior Court, naming Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio, the Sanford City Council and the City of Sanford as defendants.

The suit stems from Councilor Lanigan’s removal from his Council Subcommittee assignments by Mayor Mastraccio last month, following a controversial post on his personal Facebook page. In the post, which has since been deleted, he wrote “Communities have local budget control over schools. No kids in school! No school budget! #defundteachersunion.” At the February 2 City Council meeting, Mayor Mastraccio stripped him of his assignments to the Solid Waste Committee, the Fire Station Feasibility Group and the Land Bank Authority Commission, after reading letters of complaint from Councilor Ayn Hanselmann and several members of the public. The Mayor said she would revisit the decision in three months.

You can watch the complete meeting video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRgrxTDolHQ.

In the complaint filed with the court, Councilor Lanigan writes that his Facebook post referred to events in Chicago, and had nothing to do with Sanford. He quotes from the City Council’s Code of Conduct and Rules and Order of Business (ROB) to support his assertion that he has the right to post his personal views on Facebook without disclaimer, and asserts that Mayor Mastraccio violated sections of those documents, as well as the City Charter, by her actions.

Among his specific allegations are the following:

  • That appointments to committees may only be made after full discussion by the City Council, and that Mayor       Mastraccio acted unilaterally, without consulting other Councilors.
  • That he was denied the right to add an item to the agenda for the February 16 Council meeting, in violation of the City Charter.
  • That the ROB provides for a penalty for breaking the rules, which is “admonishment or censure” but not removal from any assignments.

While City officials and staff will not comment on pending litigation, Mayor Mastraccio has stated publicly her position that the Subcommittees are not separate committees, but an arm of the City Council itself, and so not subject to the Charter requirements.

Councilor Lanigan is not seeking monetary damages. His Motion for Preliminary Injunction requests an order from the court staying the Mayor’s actions of February 2, and enjoining the Council’s action of February 16, appointing replacements to the Subcommittees. He also requests a public retraction from Mayor Mastraccio.

At this time, the court is awaiting briefings from the parties involved.

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