Zack Reed stripped of Cleveland City Council committees after DUI arrest, will …
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of drunken driving, will maintain his seat for the remainder of his term but has been stripped of his council committee assignments.
Council President Martin J. Sweeney said in an interview Monday that council will not vote on whether to evict Reed from office, based on an opinion issued last week by the city Law Department that the group lacks the authority to do so.
In a memo dated March 12, Richard Horvath, chief corporate counsel for the city, said that a council member can only be punished or expelled for misconduct that is witnessed by his or her colleagues at a council meeting. Council has no authority to punish one of its members for behavior outside of official proceedings, Horvath wrote.
Sweeney said he asked city lawyers for advice on applying a council rule and city charter provision, allowing members to oust a colleague with a two-thirds majority vote.
The rule lacks specificity on the circumstances that might warrant expulsion, stating only that a member faces dismissal for "disorderly conduct or violation of [council's] rules."
Many members assumed that language empowered them to determine the fate of Reed's political career in the aftermath of his March 5 arrest.
Horvath's opinion draws upon case law from throughout the state, interpreting the section of the Ohio Revised Code that mirrors the council rule and charter provision on dismissal. One court ruled that the expulsion is effective only while the disorderly conduct is occurring. Another determined that council members cannot cast out a fellow member for bad behavior displayed at an earlier meeting.
But the underlying message is clear, Horvath wrote. Council has no power to evict Reed.
Sweeney, however, said Reed no longer will serve on the Legislation; Health and Human Services; and Public Parks, Recreation and Properties committees.
Sweeney, who controls committee assignments as president, said he wanted to give Reed space to handle his pending legal case.