WESTOVER — Westover City Attorney Tim Stranko said Monday the city’s recent public discourse has been more akin to blood sports than municipal governance.
Moments later, Councilor Ralph Mullins wound up for a figurative knockout, claiming he has documents outlining dozens of charter violations and abuses of power by Westover City Council and Mayor Dave Johnson and calling for an independent investigation into those claims as well as Johnson’s handling of the Aaron Dalton situation.
Dalton is a Westover Police officer who remains on paid administrative leave while a defendant in two federal civil rights lawsuits stemming from a January 2019 incident in which Andre Howton was pulled from his home and beaten.
The incident was caught on Dalton’s body-worn camera. Westover’s internal investigation is ongoing.
Mullins, citing former Westover Police Chief Richard Panico, said Johnson attempted to obstruct justice and protect Dalton from disciplinary action and that Johnson violated WPD chain of command by essentially acting in a supervisory role over the officer.
“All of the documented evidence that I have in my possession will be turned over to any law enforcement agency or independent investigative body that investigates these claims,” Mullins said.
Mullins took exception to the way Stranko presented his concerns during a special meeting last week that ended with Johnson and a member of the public calling one another outside.
Mullins also took exception to claims he wants Johnson’s job.
“I will make a deal with all of council and the mayor right here, here now, that I will resign my position as councilman if the rest of council and mayor agree to do the same, and will never seek again public office in the city of Westover,” he said.
Panico, speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, said “What’s happened is, the city’s lost adult supervision,” before challenging Johnson’s description of him as “contemptible.”
“This is contemptible,” Panico said. “You should resign.”
Another public speaker, Alli Jackson, said he’d like a public vote from council about whether or not to investigate the issues raised by Mullins.
He also said he’s confused why the city has yet to make a decision about Dalton, but continues to pay him.
“How long is the city going to pay Aaron Dalton to sit at home and do nothing,” Jackson said.
In other Westover news, Trick-or-Treat will be held from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Lastly, anyone interested in filling the 2nd Ward vacancy on Westover City Council must have a letter of interest to city hall by noon on Oct. 13.