Petition requests councilman be removed from city office

October 15, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A man who said he is fed up with the actions of Martinsburg City Councilman Frank Idoni volunteered Thursday night to take up a collection to buy Idoni a one-way ticket back to Texas.

Idoni, who has been the source of several complaints from city residents and was charged Wednesday with spitting on and punching a teenager during a fight, moved to Martinsburg from Texas about two years ago.

During the City Council meeting Thursday, city resident Paul Hutzler presented a petition to Martinsburg City Council members asking that Idoni be removed from office.


Mayor George Karos accepted the petition, which Hutzler said contained about 175 signatures, on behalf of the city.

City Recorder Sharon Flick will review the petition and make sure those who signed it are city residents and are registered to vote, Karos said.

From there, the city's involvement will end. The petition will be given to the chief circuit judge for this area, who will forward it to the state Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices will appoint a panel of judges to oversee the matter and decide what action, if any, to take, said Claudia Bentley, the city's attorney.

Idoni's wife, Rene Idoni, defended her husband's actions, saying he is trying to make his neighborhood a better place to live and increase property values for all city residents.

"I want my neighborhood to look nice," she said, adding that some properties can be considered eyesores. "I care about my property and I like Martinsburg."

Rene Idoni said she was speaking as a resident, not necessarily as Idoni's wife.

Four people who live in or own property in Idoni's ward, Ward 5, also spoke to council members.

Vincent Crowell, who owns a convenience store on Queen Street, was the person who volunteered to collect money to pay for Idoni's trip back to Texas.

Idoni, 47, sat quietly through the discussion. Reached after the meeting, he said he did not wish to comment.

Crowell, who has been operating the store for 75 years, said that Idoni has frequently visited the store with an argumentative attitude.

"He criticized me for this. He criticized me for that," Crowell said.

Among the complaints Idoni made were about signs Crowell put up, including advertisements for beer, cigarettes and ice cream, Crowell said.

"I think he's incompetent," Crowell said. "I don't think he knows what the job consists of."

Before Crowell stepped away from the podium he asked that a folded piece of paper be given to Idoni. Crowell later said the paper contained a request that Idoni no longer come to the store.

Bruce Whitman said he lives in Hedgesville, W.Va., but owns the property at 633 N. Queen St. He said he once parked a commercial vehicle down an alley in a way that did not block the alley.

Whitman said that Idoni approached him, "threw his weight around" and demanded he move the vehicle.

"He acts like he's the president of something," Whitman said.

Another man, who also owns property on Queen Street, told Council members that Idoni harassed him about the condition of his building.

"He has a very abrasive and threatening demeanor," said the man, who would not give his name after the meeting.

During his campaign for the Ward 5 seat, Idoni pledged to try to clean up his neighborhood.

"Our neighborhood doesn't seem to be getting any better," Idoni said in June. "We could have a really nice neighborhood if the city would enforce the codes, clean it up."

Idoni defeated 14-year Councilman Glenville Twigg by four votes. He was elected June 8 to serve a four-year term.

After the meeting, Council members met in a closed door executive session to discuss legal and/or personnel matters.

Martinsburg Police Department Sgt. John Sherman charged Idoni with a misdemeanor count of battery Wednesday, stemming from a fight that happened Friday, Oct. 8.

According to court records, Idoni approached 19-year-old Travis Lee Lowery, whom he felt was driving too fast. Witnesses gave differing accounts of the fight, but Idoni admitted that he spit on Lowery and "defended himself," according to court records.

Idoni said he defended himself only after Lowery kicked him in the tailbone when he tried to walk away.

The Herald-Mail Articles