With news breaking over the weekend of an ugly confrontation between 6th District Alderman Tony Thomas and a female reporter for WTOC-TV, Mayor Eddie DeLoach at a press conference this morning said Council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday to vote on a formal measure censuring Thomas for "conduct unbecoming an alderman."
DeLoach said he had decided to "move on with a clean slate" after Thomas's public intoxication this past St. Patrick's Day, and the alderman's subsequent apology.
But what clearly prompted DeLoach to take action on the latest incident is that apparently no apology was forthcoming this time.
Indeed, Thomas was defiant.
"Tony told me he would make the same comment again if given the chance," Mayor DeLoach said, referring to Thomas's description of the reporter as a "cunt."
"There's no way we can accept this approach to talking to anyone," DeLoach said of what he called "unacceptable sexist and vulgar comments."
The Mayor said, "Sadly this follows a downward spiral for Alderman Thomas."
However, the Mayor was also frank that the move to censure Thomas is very limited in scope.
"In reality not a lot" might come of it, DeLoach admitted. "It depends on how he takes it. There's no teeth to it."
The ability of local governments to censure local elected officials was only passed by the state legislature last year.
Any effort to actually remove Thomas from office, barring his own resignation, would have to either involve a special recall election — which requires signatures from at least 15 percent of the number of district voters who participated in the prior election just to get started — or defeating Thomas when he is up for reelection in 2019.
The initial TV report was prompted by reports of neglected cats at a Southside home which Thomas used to reside in, but is now allegedly in the foreclosure process and vacant.
DeLoach also demurred on the issue of Thomas's residency.
"I don't [know where Thomas is living] and I'm not going to get into any of that," said the Mayor, cautioning reporters to do their research before assuming Thomas doesn't live in the district anymore.
"I don't know any of that for a fact right now, and neither do you," said DeLoach.