Don Faulds called a press conference at AAA Bail Bonds on Jan. 8 to announce his resignation as City Council President, effective immediately.
The final straw that caused him to make the decision was Monday night’s organizational meeting of City Council. Faulds criticized council members for their decision to rehire Julie Bell as council clerk, which he felt was a decision orchestrated prior to the meeting.
On Monday morning Faulds had fired Bell. During the press conference he cited job performance issues and insubordination as his reasons.
As he was stating this (just minutes into the press conference), Julie Bell and Law Director Thomas Palmer entered the office. As law director, Palmer is also legal counsel for all city officials, including Faulds. He was there to hand Faulds a document.
Meanwhile, Bell handed out copies of the same document to members of the press.
Gina Powell, owner of AAA Bail Bonds, approached Bell and told her to leave. Bell continued handing out the papers, at which point Powell threatened to call the police. Bell tossed the papers and stormed out, with Powell following her to the door.
After the disruption, Powell proceeded to walk around the room and request the documents Bell had handed out. Reporters in attendance refused to oblige her.
The document was a cease-and-desist letter from Daniel H. Klos, an attorney Bell has hired. The letter states in part: “You are advised that any statements made regarding Ms. Bell made to the public or creating publicity about her, even if true, that places her in a false light or unlawfully invades her privacy, will be pursued to fullest legal remediation.”
Faulds continued to make his statement without reviewing the letter. “I take my oath of office very seriously. I also take responsibility for proper expenditure of public funds,” he said. He then mentioned the falsification of payroll records, at which point Paula Durbin, the city treasurer, interjected to advise him to “skip it.”
Faulds was one of the organizers of 2012’s movement to abolish Galion’s Charter. While that group wanted a government that worked for the citizens, Faulds said he was “discouraged with the city government that was put in place” because the effort was “derailed by pure politicians and unqualified officials.”
He further criticized the current administration for a lack of integrity, ethics and accountability. “I cannot and will not compromise my ethics and standards to remain involved. City officials can continue their chaotic free-for-all of corruption, but misuse of public funds will not be tolerated on my watch and I hereby resign as city council president, effective immediately.”
After making his statements, Faulds allowed a few questions from the press. He was first asked if he had proof of the allegations made against Bell.
Faulds responded that he did have proof, but it was being handled by the law director.
There was also a disagreement between the press and Gina Powell in regards to the nature of the press conference. Because Faulds was a public official inviting the media to attend the event, it was considered by the press as public information, and therefore it was shared with the public.
Powell was upset that the public was informed, saying that only the media was originally notified. A few citizens did attend the press conference.
There was also a dispute over whether or not Powell had the right to kick people out of the office. While it was held inside a private business, it was still considered by the press to be a public meeting.