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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wildwood City Council Isn’t Laughing

WILDWOOD, Mo. (CN) - The City Council voted 15-0 to draft charges to remove Wildwood's chairman of the Board of Adjustment after a joke aimed at an outgoing council member went too far. Alan Mawhinney told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the joke, involving a mannequin and a tie with an obscene message on it, was just his way of ribbing council member Tony Salvatore.

But just 13 months after a deadly shooting at a city council meeting in nearby Kirkwood, council members didn't laugh.

During a council meeting earlier this week, Mawhinney approached the council with a package wrapped in a plastic bag. When Mawhinney, a former council member and one of Wildwood's founders, took the bag off he revealed a mannequin in a pressed white shirt and tie. The tie was imprinted with Salvatore's image and had a message that was obscene when pronounced phonetically. Mawhinney then gave a speech blasting Salvatore's two years in office, criticizing Salvatore's run-in with St. Louis County Police last year. Salvatore has been charged with three misdemeanors from the incident and maintains his innocence. He is not running for re-election.

Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther told the Post-Dispatch that only once in the city's history has a member of a city board been removed, but couldn't recall the circumstances of the removal that occurred more than five years ago on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.

Woerther said the city council has broad authority to charge members of the city's boards, but didn't know what these particular charges would include. The Board of Adjustment, of which Mawhinney is the chairman, hears appeals to the city's zoning code and its members also serve on the Board of Administrative Review, which makes the final decision on whether a person or business can appeal a decision from the city council or other board or commission.

Wildwood is 30 miles west of St. Louis and just 20 miles west of Kirkwood, where an armed gunman stormed a city council meeting in February 2008. The gunman killed six before police shot him to death.

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