PORTSMOUTH, Va. - At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Mayor Holley toldreporters he would not resign. Council voted 6-1, asking him toretire.
"With appreciation for his commitment to our progress butmindful of our obligations to carry this city forward Irespectfully move that the mayor announce and council accept hisretirement from service to the city effective immediately," ViceMayor Bill Moody, Jr. read from a written statement.
Holley was the only member of the elected body to vote againstthe motion. The majority vote is not enough to remove the mayor.Moody said it is a "strong statement."
The Mayor told WAVY.com before the meeting that one councilmember asked him to resign during a closed door executivesession.
Mayor Holley started the meeting saying the session is just likeevery other. He thanked everyone for being present and he said hewanted to take a few minutes to address the "distraction."
He told those present that the public elected him as mayor andif he leaves it is because his voters want him out. He added thereare procedures that need to be followed in order for him to beremoved from office, but, he said, "I'm telling you that you put mehere, and when I leave from here, you will take me from here. Andit will not be from a resignation."
Later in his speech he said it was "probably a bad, bad decisionthat I made. But I've been forgiven before so, I look forward toyour forgiveness again."
During the meeting, the mayor never mentioned hisassistant or tasks he asked her to perform.
Earlier on Tuesday, Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas was the firstcouncil member to come forward and publicly state that she believesit is time for Portsmouth Mayor James Holley to resign fromoffice.
Psimas told WAVY.com, "It's just time. There are an awfullot of folks who would like to see him resign."
She said the 82-year-old mayor "has given so much good serviceto this community and I hate to see him go out in this way, but Isure don't want to see this city go through a recall. That is aterrible drama, terrible black eye on the city and I would hate tosee that happen, again."
Mayor Holley has been recalled from office before. In1987, he became the first mayor in the commonwealth to beremoved from office after he was said to take part in a hate mailcampaign.
The Mayor faces a formal reprimand and $2,500.00 fine from citycouncil for allegedly forcing his secretary to handle all of hispersonal chores and being "verbally abusive" to her if shefailed.
"You really can't behave this way, this is 2009," said Psimas."You don't ask administrative assistants to do these kinds of tasksand you certainly don't treat people this way."
Some citizens agree with Councilwoman Psimas and are nowcirculating a petition asking for Holley to step down. It isnot a formal recall petition, therefore it carries no legal power.It is instead a polite request to the mayor to willingly leaveoffice.
The secretary, Lorraine Stokes, who filed a formal complaintlast week claims Mayor Holley regularly required her to handle hispersonal chores, like ordering his cologne, cancelling his Playboysubscription and looking online for a Taser gun to deal with thegeese in his backyard. The secretary says the mayor was oftendemeaning to her when she failed to finish his chores, calling hera "nobody" and threatening to have her fired.
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