Shakeup over Harrisburg city attorney - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Shakeup over Harrisburg city attorney

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HARRISBURG (WSIL) --The new city council met for the first time Thursday night, and members made a motion to remove Todd Bittle as City Attorney. 

Board members seeked to appoint former mayoral candidate Robert C. Wilson, who ran against McPeek this April, and Kolby Smithpeters. 

Bittle, who has held the position for more than a decade, says the move was unexpected, "I wasn't quite as prepared as I would have liked to have been to have something like that kind of a curve ball."

As far as Bittle knows, the motion is illegal according to state and city code. "For 105 years in the city of Harrisburg, the mayor has had the right to appoint the attorney that he chooses," he remarks. 

He says the city code does not give the city council the authority to appoint a city attorney. The code only allows council member to give their consent to the mayor's appointment. 

The battle between McPeek and Bittle versus the city council is all over the word 'may' in the Illinois Municipal code. The state code reads 'The mayor, with the advice and consent of city council, may appoint an attorney.'

Wilson argues the 'may' gives the the city council the right to appoint him and Smithpeters.

"As I understand 'may' is permissive. Doesn't say shall, it's not exclusive. The city council just voted. Four people on the city council who are required to approve who is appointed attorney for city council," Wilson told McPeek and board members during Thursday's meeting. 

At this point, Bittle is concerned Wilson and Smithpeters will start doing city business without the proper authority.

"If they are going try to adopt any ordinances, at the next thing [city council meeting. We'll know if I did it or if somebody else did it," Bittle explains. 

Bittle adds that voters put their trust in Mayor McPeek and the city council is trying to improperly override his powers, "I think the citizens should be very upset about that."

News 3 did reach out to Wilson but did not hear back. 

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