City Councilor Lucas Lanigan told the York County Coast Star this week that he plans to challenge his removal by Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio from the Council’s advisory subcommittees on the grounds that it violates Sanford’s City Charter.
At the City Council’s meeting on February 2, Councilor Lanigan was removed from his positions on the Solid Waste Subcommittee, the Fire Station Feasibility Committee and the Land Bank Authority, after complaints from residents about a post on his personal Facebook page. The post read “Communities have local budget control over schools. No kids in school! No school budget! #defundteachersunion.” The post was later deleted.
Mr. Lanigan told the Coast Star that his Facebook post was not in reference to Sanford, but was in response to a story in national news media about the Chicago school system. He called the Mayor’s action to remove him from his subcommittee assignments “one of the most divisive actions ever taken by an elected official without due process.”
Sanford’s Charter does not specifically name the Council’s advisory subcommittees, but it does grant the Council as a whole the right to “appoint members of all other City boards, commissions, and committees created by the Council or established by the Charter.” (Section 205.1)
The Council’s Rules and Order of Business, however, grant that right to the Mayor: “City Council Representation on any additional committees and/or boards shall be designated by the Mayor after full discussion by the City Council.” (Section 41)
The latest version of the Rules and Order of Business was adopted by the Council on January 19 by a unanimous vote. The amended rules include the following: “When and if an individual elected official makes any comment on any City-owned social media site (or on his/her personal social media), the elected official should make it clear that the comment is made in his or her personal capacity and not on behalf of the City or City Council. If there is any ambiguity, the elected official should refrain from such comments until he/she has sought guidance from the Mayor or the Council as a whole.” No objection to this amendment was raised by any Councilor.
However, Section 30 reads: “When any member shall be guilty of a breach of any of these Rules, said member may, on motion, be admonished or censured or may be required to make satisfaction therefore by taking such action or refraining from such conduct as may be stated in the motion, and shall not be allowed to vote or speak except by way of apology or excuse, until such satisfaction has been made.” There is no mention of other possible disciplinary action.
Councilor Lanigan’s removal from the subcommittees, and Mayor Mastraccio’s reappointments, will be on the agenda for the Council’s meeting on February 16.