Maitland vice mayor stripped of title, resigns from Chamber of Commerce board



MAITLAND, Fla. - Maitland Vice Mayor Phil Bonus was stripped of his title and has also verbally resigned from the Chamber of Commerce board, but WFTV learned he still holds a City Council seat.

Bonus' name was recently uncovered on a client list of an Orange County brothel. He was also arrested last year on DUI charges.

On Tuesday, the executive director of the Maitland Chamber of Commerce told WFTV Bonus had verbally resigned from the board, though he had not received a formal letter from Bonus. He was serving as president-elect.
This comes after City Council members voted 4-0 Monday night to strip Bonus of his title as the city's vice mayor, making him a councilman.

City leaders wanted to remove Bonus from office, but legally, all they could do was to take away his title. The council named Bev Reponen vice mayor.
But Bonus still hasn't resigned from the Maitland City Council, a job that pays $300 a month. City officials said they can't force him out because he hasn't been charged with a felony.

WFTV talked to the mayor of Maitland who said Bonus needs to give up the council seat altogether.

"If you were in his shoes, at one point would you have stepped aside and resigned?" asked WFTV's Daralene Jones.

"I would've already done it," said Mayor Howard Schieferdecker. "It would make it much easier for all of us, for his family and for the city if he resigns."

"It's about the city healing. Like I said before, I'm here to help the Bonus family. If he resigns, I will do everything I can in my power to help him recover and the city obviously recovers," said Schieferdecker.
Bonus has been under pressure to resign since last week when WFTV discovered his name on a client list of a suspected brothel operating out of an Orange County home.
WFTV started digging more and found out he was also arrested last December after he refused a breath test and lost his balance repeatedly during a traffic stop in Tampa.

Police said he nearly hit two officers in a construction zone. Bonus still has his driver's license, and prosecutors said it looks like the case will go to trial.

"You can't get any worse than trying to kill innocent people. That's possibly the worse, not to have a conscious, not to come forward and talk to the council and say, 'I've made a mistake,'" said Maitland resident Roger Pickar.

Bonus has not returned phone calls or text messages from WFTV.
Bonus was not present at the council meeting when the decision was made to strip his title.

The City Council also gave the go-ahead to allow the city attorney and a committee to draft new standards for the city charter, so leaders can take action if future politicians are involved in moral or unethical incidents.

Bonus would be grandfathered in if those changes happen.

WFTV also found the names of state Rep. Mike Horner, local doctors, an amateur boxer and a pro golfer on the alleged brothel client list. Bonus allegedly visited the brothel at least four times in 2012.

Horner recently pulled out of his re-election bid, but he has not resigned from office. Republican officials named a replacement, but Horner's name will still appear on next month's ballot because it was too late to take it off.