Villa Hills mayor to keep his job

VILLA HILLS, Ky. - The Villa Hills City Council has voted on the fate of its current mayor. The council decided Thursday morningĀ  after an exhausting night of testimony that Mike Martin will continue to serve out his term as mayor.

The six councilmen went into deliberations around midnight and deliberated for an hour and a half before returning the verdict.

"I don't think they were voting for Mike Martin, I think they were voting for the evidence," said Martin.

The vote ends a three-day removal hearing that started Monday. It would have taken a unanimous vote to remove Martin from office.

The proceedings were a result of all six members of the council voting to hold the removal hearing after an investigation into the mayor's ethics found Martin had burned city documents and used retaliatory behavior against city employees.

"I don't believe any of the things that they brought up were enough to have me removed. Many of the things, they never really were able to bring to fruition from an evidence perspective because it wasn't there. The biggest thing right now is for healing to begin in our city," said Martin.

"Would I have made some different decisions? Yeah, you can always add some hindsight, wisdom and whatever else, but there were no documents to my knowledge that were damaged or destroyed illegally."

The prosecution, led by local attorney Phil Taliaferro, was trying to prove willful misconduct on the part of Martin.

Taliaferro told 9 News despite the outcome of the hearing, he was pleased with how council members voted.

"This sends a strong message to this Mayor that he is not going to be able get away with the things they voted on anymore. And I think that's in the best interest of the citizens of Villa Hills," said Taliaferro.

Mayor Martin, who has called the proceedings "embarrassing for the city," said he believed he was entitled to serve out his term because he was elected by the city.

Not everyone agreed with Martin's belief that he should continue leading the people of Villa Hills, though. Much of the testimony heard during the proceedings reinforced those beliefs.

On Monday, Martin denied accusations from the prosecutor that he has acted as if he's above the law during his time as mayor.

When asked if having a city employee print more than 2,000 political documents during working hours violated the Villa Hills ethics ordinance Martin said, "I don't know what the ordinance states, so I don't know."

Martin's attorney claimed the proceedings were a waste of time and money.

"What we have is a circumstance where a mayor came in as a mayor, learned some lessons as he went forward, none of which amounts to anything sufficiently severe to undo the will of the people of Villa Hills that elected him as mayor," said Martin's attorney Todd McMurtry.

People who testified before the decisive vote included Police Chief Daniel Goodenough, who told the prosecutor that he felt threatened by Martin during a meeting in February.

Goodenough also stated that the mayor gave the order to burn city documents. The chief testified that he had found bags of shredded city documents in a city trash bin after a judge had ordered the mayor to stop destroying documents.

Tuesday's removal hearing lasted nearly four hours. Jerry Carlton with the Kentucky Department of Library and Archives, Public Works Director Buck Yelton, Interim City Clerk Sue Bree, and Assistant City Clerk Kim Robbins were called to testify.

Robbins had previously told a Kenton County judge she witnessed Martin shredding city documents, even after the judge told him not to do so.

If the council would have voted to remove Martin at the end of the hearing, the council would have had 30 days to select a person to fill the position as the city's mayor. That person would have finished the rest of Martin's term, which extends through Jan. 1, 2014.

If the council would have been unable to fill the position within the 30-day period, Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear would have had to appoint the mayor, according to Kentucky law.

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