Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Arnold's Solicitor Casts Doubt on Removal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Arnold's Solicitor Casts Doubt on Removal

Article excerpt

Amid calls for Arnold Mayor Karen Peconi's resignation, the city's solicitor said Wednesday that removing her from office may not be "legally permissible."

Arnold City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday evening to draft a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Senate to request the Democratic mayor's removal from office over what some perceive as a racially insensitive Facebook post targeting protesters of the fatal police shooting last month of Antwon Rose II in East Pittsburgh.

Arnold solicitor David Regoli, who is also a criminal defense lawyer, said he was not notified of council's plans before the vote. If he had been, he said, he may have advised council to pursue other options such as drafting a resolution requesting her resignation.

Mr. Regoli is researching past cases to guide his legal opinion about the effectiveness of seeking Ms. Peconi's removal through the intervention of the governor and Senate. He expects to notify the council Thursday of his opinion and has not ruled out the possibility that a letter will be sent.

Demands for Ms. Peconi's resignation began several weeks ago when she shared a video on her Facebook page showing water cannons being used on protesters elsewhere. The video was accompanied by comments such as "we need one of these" and "bring the hoses," suggesting that the same should be done to protesters in the Pittsburgh area.

Councilman Phillip McKinley made the motion Tuesday for a letter to be sent to Harrisburg.

"I felt that was the direction to go in because she refused to resign," Mr. McKinley said.

Mr. Regoli said "as ugly as her speech was," Ms. Peconi is allowed to voice her thoughts under the First Amendment. As a result, he said, he is unsure if her social media behavior would warrant the state getting involved.

Pennsylvania's constitution allows local elected officials to be removed through impeachment or by the governor and Senate for conviction of "misbehavior in office or of any infamous crime. …

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