With one word, Alderman Bill Boom’s tenure on the Davenport City Council has come to an end.
The 3rd Ward alderman pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to the felony charge of providing false statements to a grand jury before Magistrate Judge Stephen Jackson Jr. in U.S. District Court, Davenport.
Limiting his answers to the judge to no more than three words, Boom stood, hands behind his back with his fingers interlocked, to give his guilty plea.
Boom admitted to making false statements in regards to questions over whether he knew his former housemate, Gage Wenthe, used methamphetamine and if he had ever given money to Joseph Allen Terry, who is awaiting sentencing on federal methamphetamine charges.
Jackson informed Boom, entering his 10th year of service on the City Council, that he is no longer eligible to hold public office per Iowa Code 372.13, meaning his former colleagues must now make a decision on how to fill the vacancy.
“The person convicted of a felony would be ineligible for holding public office and would have to resign or be removed from office,” Kevin Hall, communications director at the Office of Iowa Secretary of State, said. “The city could appoint someone within 40 days of when the vacancy occurs, or they could a call a special election. The council has to give 32 days notice for a special election, unless there’s a primary. Then they need 60 days notice.”
As Boom left the courthouse, he declined to comment.
The charge carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison or up to five years of probation and a fine of up to $250,000. In the plea agreement, however, the government has a recommended probation between one and five years.
Boom will be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 24 by Chief District Judge John Jarvey.
Because of the short notice of Boom’s guilty plea, City Administrator Corri Spiegel said the topic would not be on the agenda for the council's management update meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Mayor Frank Klipsch, however, did mention that he received Boom's resignation in an email before the meeting. Klipsch said Boom would provide a formal letter of resignation to the city soon.
Before Tuesday’s court date, the City Council was unaware of any of the developments.
“That’s shocking news and let the justice system take place,” Alderman Kyle Gripp, at large, said. “We’ll have to discuss what action we have to take. Alderman Boom will have to do some introspection and do what’s best for the city of Davenport to make sure the negative light on him doesn’t get shone on the city.”
Klipsch said that Boom’s guilty plea was unfortunate and that he would feel more comfortable speaking to the council before a general decision is made.
Boom's term is set to expire in January, meaning that if a special election is held, the winner would have to run again in November.
If a special election would take place, City Attorney Tom Warner said it would cost the city about $30,000.
Investigation of business
With Boom’s felony conviction, the ramifications also extend to his place of business.
Boom is a co-owner of the bar Mary’s on 2nd, 832 W. 2nd St., along with Bobby Stansberry.
The two both hold a 50 percent share of the business and have a liquor license that runs until July 31, but Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division Communications Director Robert Bailey said that recent felons are not eligible for a license.
“A convicted felon cannot have a liquor license,” Bailey said. “However, if the felony is beyond five years and the felon has had his or her rights restored, a license may be awarded. Percentage of ownership would not make a difference.”
Bailey said that in general terms, once the division is notified of a felony conviction, it would investigate to verify that the owner was, in fact, a felon, and with Tuesday’s developments, an investigation will ensue.
Stansberry did not respond to a request for comment on whether he would buy Boom’s share or seek another partner.
The division also holds the right to administer a summary suspension during the investigation in the event there is a threat to public safety.
“Summary suspensions are in place until the administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division either has it lifted or the division takes other action toward the license based on results of an investigation,” Bailey said.
Bailey said it is possible that the bar could continue operating after a management transfer and investigation, but each case is treated on its own facts.
“A conviction could possibly affect the current license, but other action could take place, such as an ownership update that would exclude a felon,” Bailey said. “The division would work with the license holder to find a legal solution.”