MUSCATINE, Iowa — Accusations continue to fly at Muscatine’s City Hall. City Attorney Matthew Brick filed a list of official complaints Friday morning that could lead to the permanent ouster of Mayor Diana Broderson.
The document, labeled Charges for Removal, has been filed with the city and could appear on the agenda for the next City Council meeting, which is planned for March 2, unless a special meeting is held.
Council members will decide whether to proceed with a hearing that they will preside over. If they decide to hold a hearing, in which both sides will be given a chance to present arguments, it is required by state and city code to be held at least 10 days after the mayor is notified.
Broderson will continue to preside at council meetings until the hearing is held. The office of mayor in Muscatine does not have voting powers, so Broderson's role is to preside over meetings as council members take action, which in upcoming weeks may include a vote on her fate.
If the council votes to hold a hearing, the council chambers will have the atmosphere of a courtroom, with council members hearing accusations and Broderson's defense and ultimately deciding whether to remove her from office.
After the hearing, written briefs and proposed decisions will be submitted both by Broderson's attorney, Bill Sueppel, and Brick. The council will then make its decision, which city code states must be by a two-thirds majority vote of the council.
Broderson is accused of ignoring Brick's legal advice when he told her that she was stepping outside of the boundaries of her power as mayor, listed in the document as "willful misconduct or maladministration … habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of her office."
State and city code give seven possible reasons to remove an elected official from office:
• For willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of the office.
• For willful misconduct or maladministration in office.
• For corruption.
• For extortion.
• Upon conviction of a felony.
• For intoxication, or upon conviction of being intoxicated.
• Upon conviction of violating the provisions of chapter 68A.
In the document, Broderson is accused of "making baseless complaints” that cost the city as much as $100,000 in legal fees and staff time to investigate, including asking for an investigation into whether she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and requesting investigation into actions of the city that were later determined to be unfounded.
Also outlined is an alleged breach of fiduciary duties, failure to comply with city code, defamation and/or false allegations and misuse of power and/or abuse of discretion.
Broderson said Friday afternoon that she and her attorney have not been served with the charges.
"We have not received the charges yet, and any comment before we’ve seen them would be premature," she said.
Ann Brumback, an organizer of a petition currently being circulated in Muscatine for the removal of all members of the city council said the charges will not affect her and other organizers' decision to collect signatures.
"The charges were not the reason for the petition; they were nothing more than the straw that broke the camel’s back," she said.
She said the petition has about 1,500 Muscatine residents' signatures.
City Council Members Michael Rehwaldt and Bob Bynum said they were unable to comment, and other council members and the city attorney did not return phone calls Friday. City Administrator Gregg Mandsager also declined to comment.