Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Call for immediate discussion on Charleston City Council member's residency violation fails

'Six of 11 is not enough'

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 11:40 AM

click to enlarge DUSTIN WATERS FILE
  • Dustin Waters file
Charleston City Council was two hours into Tuesday night’s meeting when Councilman Marvin Wagner finally addressed the elephant in the room — a call for a possible hearing regarding fellow council member Dean Riegel living outside of his own district.

As first reported by the Post and Courier, Riegel appears to have violated city laws requiring council members to reside in their own districts when he sold his West Ashley home and rented a residence in Summerville. In August, members of City Council discussed holding a hearing regarding Reigel’s violation, at which time Reigel claimed to have recently leased a new residence within his district. But Tuesday night, Wagner raised doubts about Reigel’s return to West Ashley.

“Can I go back in time about a month, back to an original discussion we had on what looks like Aug. 15. It was titled at that time a discussion on our forfeiture of office should we move from the district. I want to go back there if it’s all right, have a quick stay on it, and see if we want to have this required public hearing,” Wagner said, claiming that he’s continued to receive plenty of public feedback regarding Reigel’s residency status. “I’m saying that for several reasons. They’re blowing up my phone. They’re blowing up the emails. They’re blowing up a whole bunch of stuff over in that area of town.”

Wagner’s statement was cut short by Mayor John Tecklenburg, who said that council would need to vote to amend the evening’s agenda to formally discuss a hearing. Wagner then introduced a motion to amend the agenda and take up discussion of the matter. Scrolling through his phone, Councilman Bill Moody seconded Wagner’s motion. Councilman Mike Seekings then joined the conversation, saying that no vote was required to place a call for a hearing on a later agenda.

“I think that’s something he can do in the regular course of business and has to be put on an agenda somewhere down the road,” said Seekings. “Amending an agenda to have a discussion about something that may be on an agenda somewhere down the road, I think, will take us down a path we don’t need to go.”

The next regularly scheduled meeting of City Council is set to take place after the November election. Reigel is one of four sitting members of City Council up for re-election. He faces opponents Summer Masey and Harry Joseph Griffin in the race for District 10.

With a final vote to amend Tuesday’s agenda requiring two-thirds support from City Council, Wagner’s motion failed to gain the majority needed to force an immediate discussion. Council members Wagner, Moody, William Dudley Gregorie, Gary White, Kathleen Wilson, and Robert Mitchell voted in favor of resurrecting the discussion of residency requirements for city officials.

“Six of 11 is not enough, so I’ll hush,” said Wagner, who argued that the discussion of a hearing in August was not conclusive. “I would request that it comes on the agenda next meeting.”

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