Update: GI Council Files Misconduct Charges Against Vavricek
The Grand Island City Council has officially filed misconduct charges against Mayor Jay Vavricek seeking his removal from office.
Councilman Mike Paulick submitted the paperwork to city hall on Friday morning.
The "charge of misconduct" will be placed on next Tuesday's city council meeting.
Paulick wrote, "The specific charge constituting misconduct is driving under the influence of alcohol, which endangered lives of others as well as the life of Mr. Vavricek."
As a mom of a high school senior, Mary Luton says Vavricek needs to go, saying his arrest was out of line for a public official.
"You're trying to raise a teenager in this day and age and here a person in authority is doing something like that and is getting away with it," she said.
City council members apparently agree, judging from the call to remove Vavricek from office.
Council President Bob Niemann says the process to remove Vavricek from office is outlined in the city code.
City Code 2-24 is titled, "Removal of Elected Official for Misconduct." It says any elected official can be removed for "misconduct or malfeasance."
Niemann said, "It's a legislative trial, so to speak. It's similar in reference to the way they try to impeach a president."
Niemann made that comment a few weeks ago. He's under orders not to talk now, because of that impending hearing where the city council will serve as judge and jury.
During the hearing, Vavricek would have the right to an attorney, and would be able to question witnesses and make arguments to the council.
City Attorney Bob Sivick would act as the prosecutor, and could question witnesses and make arguments as well.
It would take a three-fourths vote of the council to find Vavricek unfit to hold office.
But Niemann cautioned they do not consider such a possibility lightly.
"That's going to be messy and is it good for the city? I don't know," the council president said.
Vavricek said such a procedure would leave the city in "peril."
"Could leave a path of negativity with scars that would be very long," the mayor said.
Council members say they have tired of the negative attention.
Niemann said, "It's not good PR for the city."
Vavricek and the council have been at odds over the past two years, on a range of issues. Vavricek was also the subject of a failed recall attempt, citing poor leadership for his decision to keep City Administrator Mary Lou Brown after earlier asking for her resignation.
Council members also censured Vavricek, issuing a public reprimand.
The turmoil seemed to have eased somewhat, when Vavricek was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving last month. He later agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge.
After Vavricek's arrest and conviction, Niemann said, "In many ways I feel sorry for the mayor. I think he's a good man who's trying to do the best job he can and got caught in a whirlwind."
Vavricek's attorney Bill Kelly arrived at city hall just as reporters did, to get the formal charges filed against the mayor. Kelly said he was withholding comment until Tuesday's city council meeting, and as he walked away, said "it's unbelievable".
Vavricek previously said the city needs to avoid the negative path and move forward.
But community members like Mary Luton say they can't see that happening as long as Vavricek is in office.
"No. Be gone," she said.
Mary was among three dozen concerned citizens who attended a meeting with their city council members Thursday night.
The council will vote Tuesday on whether or not to move forward with the process.