Chaos and confusion ensued in a suburban Philadelphia borough under county investigation, as the borough’s embattled leader spent the night holed up in the borough hall – doing business through a cracked window – to protect what she claims are crucial documents.
“I had to protect the records here, I had to protect the finances,” Colwyn Borough manager Paula Brown told NBC10 investigative reporter Harry Hairston.
Brown’s barricade came after four members of the town’s seven-member council voted to remove both Brown and council president Paul Meuser -- after Meuser adjourned Thursday night’s meeting, which featured screaming matches and arguments between council members and residents over money.
Brown claims the vote to oust her was illegal. She responded by remaining in the Delaware County, Pennsylvania borough hall overnight.
“Why don’t you shut her up!” “no, no, no!” and a slew of profanities could be heard as Meuser adjourned Thursday’s meeting.
“I’m council president,” said Meuser after the meeting. “We made a motion to adjourn and what they did is illegal.”
Fred Lesher, a former Brown and Meuser ally, begged to differ and declared himself new leader of council. After the meeting, Brown could be seen screaming at Lesher until Brown stormed off.
“We actually got rid of a factional council that was causing lots of trouble,” said Lesher.
"I'm gonna tell you right now that there are people right here in the street that are going to vote you the heck out, including myself," said Lesher during the meeting.
Lesher, who serves a finance chair, suggested the elimination of the borough manager position -- instead replacing it with separate treasurer and office administrator positions.
Not every council member agreed with Lesher’s opinion of Brown.
Borough public safety chair Jesse Brundage could be seen handing McDonald’s breakfast to Brown through a borough hall window Thursday. “Did you get me a straw?” Brown joked.
Speaking through the window, Brown said she had work to do.
“I am boxing up files for the District Attorney and then I’m going to pay some bills because the council did vote to pass the bills last night.”
Brown remained in the hall throughout the day. She said the borough hall would be open if any residents had business to do Friday.
It wasn’t clear if the vote to remove Brown was legal or not. County investigators came to the borough Friday to remove boxes of documents – presumably the ones Brown swore to protect.
Brown said she would only stop running the borough if a judge said so. She eventually left the locked building shortly before 6 p.m. Friday.
Brown said she needed a shower so she decided to leave. She also said she still plans to show up to work Monday.
For years, the NBC10 Investigators have covered political unrest in Colwyn including allegations of “back room” funding deals and even Brown saying her tires were slashed after she spoke out against the fire department.